Learning my AFL Reconditioning Philosophy (1)CategoriesFooty Tips

Unlocking the Power of Reconditioning in AFL: A Comprehensive Guide to Athlete Return to Performance


In the high-impact world of Australian Football League (AFL), the significance of reconditioning cannot be overstated. Reconditioning in AFL encompasses a broad spectrum of strategies aimed at ensuring athletes recover efficiently, maintain peak physical condition, and return from injuries stronger and more resilient. This comprehensive guide aims to unlock the power of reconditioning, offering insights into the athlete-centered approach that integrates the latest in sports science. As we gear up for an upcoming live Zoom presentation on AFL reconditioning, we invite you to explore the pivotal role of reconditioning in enhancing athlete recovery and performance.

The Rehab Journey: An Athlete-Centered Approach

Reconditioning in AFL is not a one-size-fits-all process. It’s a personalized journey that begins with an in-depth individual assessment, tailoring the recovery plan to meet each athlete’s unique needs. The key pillars of this journey include:

  • Individual Assessment and Customization: Understanding the specific needs and challenges of each athlete to develop a bespoke recovery plan.
  • Mental Health and Resilience: Recognizing the mental and emotional aspects of recovery, fostering resilience, and supporting athletes through their rehab journey.
  • Nutrition and Recovery: Highlighting the critical role of nutrition in accelerating recovery and optimizing performance.

Communication among athletes, coaches, and medical teams is paramount, ensuring that everyone is aligned in the recovery and reconditioning goals.

Reconditioning Philosophy: Keeping the Big Picture in Mind

The philosophy behind AFL reconditioning is holistic, focusing not just on immediate recovery but on the athlete’s long-term health and career longevity. This involves:

  • Periodization: Implementing a phased approach that includes off-season preparation, in-season maintenance, and post-season recovery.
  • Long-Term Development: Keeping the athlete’s long-term development and career progression in view, beyond the immediate competition season.

Applying the Science: Objectivity and Integration

Sport science plays a critical role in AFL reconditioning, providing objective data to guide decision-making. Key components include:

  • Objective Measurement and Monitoring: Utilizing technologies such as GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring to gather real-time data on athlete performance and recovery.
  • Case Studies and Best Practices: Learning from successful reconditioning strategies through case studies.
  • Techniques for Flexibility and Injury Reduction: Implementing stretching and support strategies to enhance flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries.

Integrating Reconditioning Principles

The ultimate goal is to seamlessly integrate reconditioning principles into daily training and competition schedules, tailoring plans to the individual needs and goals of each athlete. This requires continuous evaluation and adjustment, ensuring that the reconditioning strategies evolve in line with the athlete’s progress and the demands of the sport.

A comprehensive approach to reconditioning in AFL is vital for optimizing athlete recovery, performance, and longevity. As we conclude, we underscore the importance of embracing an athlete-centered approach, informed by sport science, to achieve these goals. We invite you to join our live Zoom presentation for deeper insights and interactive discussions on applying these principles to your practice or team.

Interested in seeing the above information being presented by our founder Jack Mclean? sign up to our academy for free via this link:

Coaches Monthly


Hughes L, Rosenblatt B, Haddad F, Gissane C, McCarthy D, Clarke T, Ferris G, Dawes J, Paton B, Patterson SD. Comparing the Effectiveness of Blood Flow Restriction and Traditional Heavy Load Resistance Training in the Post-Surgery Rehabilitation of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Patients: A UK National Health Service Randomised Controlled Trial. Sports Med. 2019 Nov;49(11):1787-1805. doi: 10.1007/s40279-019-01137-2. PMID: 31301034.

  • Sandford GN, Laursen PB, Buchheit M. Anaerobic Speed/Power Reserve and Sport Performance: Scientific Basis, Current Applications and Future Directions. Sports Med. 2021 Oct;51(10):2017-2028. doi: 10.1007/s40279-021-01523-9. Epub 2021 Aug 16. PMID: 34398445.
  • Flatt AA, Allen JR, Keith CM, Martinez MW, Esco MR. Season-Long Heart-Rate Variability Tracking Reveals Autonomic Imbalance in American College Football Players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2021 Dec 1;16(12):1834-1843. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2020-0801. Epub 2021 May 26. PMID: 34039770.
  • Malone et a. 2016 Malone, S, Roe, M, Doran, DA, Gabbett, TJ and Collins, K (2016) High chronic training loads and exposure to bouts of maximal velocity running reduce injury risk in elite Gaelic football. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.
  • Taberner M, Allen T, Cohen DD. Progressing rehabilitation after injury: consider the ‘control-chaos continuum’. Br J Sports Med. 2019 Sep;53(18):1132-1136. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-100157. Epub 2019 Feb 8. PMID: 30737202; PMCID: PMC6818668.
Five essential agility drills to improve lateral speed for athletes.CategoriesFooty Tips

Elevate Your Game: Power Tips for Aspiring AFL Footballers to Dodge Opponents

Aspiring AFL footballers, listen up! If you’re aiming to weave through your opponents with the grace of a gazelle, you’re in the right place. We’re about to dive into some game-changing advice that will not only help you dodge your opponents but also leave them in awe of your agility. With insights derived from the latest research, this post will serve as your roadmap to becoming a more elusive and effective player on the field. So, are you ready to take your AFL game up a notch? Let’s get the ball rolling!

Harnessing the Power of Small-Sided Games

First up, let’s talk about small-sided games. These aren’t just fun; they’re a goldmine for improving your agility. According to Young & Rogers (2014), small-sided games significantly boost your ability to make quicker decisions on the field. It’s not about how fast you move, but how quickly you decide to make that move. Imagine being able to out-think your opponent and be one step ahead, literally. That’s the edge small-sided games can give you, making them a crucial part of your training arsenal.

Rethinking Change-of-Direction Training

Change-of-direction training might seem like a no-brainer for agility, right? However, the same research by Young & Rogers (2014) suggests that its benefits might not be as pronounced as we thought, especially for developing the kind of reactive agility that makes a difference in real-game scenarios. This doesn’t mean you should ditch these drills entirely, but rather, integrate them with other training forms for a well-rounded agility workout.

AFL Draft Combine
AFL Draft Combine

The Neuromuscular Training Advantage

Zouhal et al. (2019) bring neuromuscular training into the spotlight, highlighting its significant impact on agility performance in elite soccer players. Given the similarities in agility demands between soccer and AFL, incorporating neuromuscular training into your routine could be a game-changer. This type of training focuses on improving your muscle response times and coordination, essential for executing quick turns and evasive maneuvers.

Sharpening Your Perceptual Skills

Perceptual skill, or the ability to quickly process and react to your surroundings, is another critical component of agility. Young & Willey (2010) emphasize the importance of integrating perceptual training into your agility drills. It’s not just about how fast you are but how fast you can perceive a gap or an opponent’s move and react accordingly. This skill can often be the difference between a successful evasion and a missed opportunity.

Speed, Agility, and Quickness (SAQ) Training

Lastly, Milanović et al. (2013) shed light on the effectiveness of SAQ training in enhancing agility. This approach, which combines speed, agility, and quickness exercises, has been shown to improve performance significantly, even when the ball is in play. For AFL players, this means being more adaptable and agile, with or without the ball, enhancing your ability to evade opponents and create opportunities.

Incorporating These Insights into Your Training

How do you put all this into practice? Start by integrating small-sided games into your training sessions to enhance your decision-making speed. Complement these with neuromuscular training exercises to improve your physical response times and coordination. Don’t overlook the importance of perceptual training; consider drills that mimic real-game scenarios to sharpen your reactive agility. Lastly, incorporate SAQ training to round out your agility development, ensuring you’re quick, nimble, and ready to outmaneuver your opponents.

Improving your ability to evade opponents in AFL requires a multifaceted approach, as research vividly illustrates. By focusing on small-sided games, neuromuscular, and SAQ training, while also honing your perceptual skills, you’re setting yourself up for success on the field. Remember, agility is not just physical; it’s a mental game, too. So, lace up, stay sharp, and get ready to leave your opponents wondering where you went.

Eager to elevate your AFL game further? Dive into more insights and tips on our blog and join a community of footballers who, just like you, are on their way to greatness. Let’s turn these insights into action and transform your agility on the field!

Try our program for FREE via this link alternatively, book a 15-minute call with Jack to discover the best program for you!

Check out our favourite change of direction strength drills with the below videos:

Young, W., & Rogers, N. F. R. (2014). Effects of small-sided game and change-of-direction training on reactive agility and change-of-direction speed. *Journal of Sports Sciences, 32*, 307-314. [https://consensus.app/papers/effects-smallsided-game-changeofdirection-training-young/07ed8e840b3a53c8b9318df2fc659bff/(https://consensus.app/papers/effects-smallsided-game-changeofdirection-training-young/07ed8e840b3a53c8b9318df2fc659bff/

Zouhal, H., Abderrahman, A. B., Dupont, G., Truptin, P., Le Bris, R., Le Postec, E., Sghaeir, Z., Brughelli, M., Granacher, U., & Bideau, B. (2019). Effects of Neuromuscular Training on Agility Performance in Elite Soccer Players. *Frontiers in Physiology, 10*. [https://consensus.app/papers/effects-training-agility-performance-elite-soccer-zouhal/95ea735b2fea57b78cab183208273266/ (https://consensus.app/papers/effects-training-agility-performance-elite-soccer-zouhal/95ea735b2fea57b78cab183208273266/

Young, W., & Willey, B. (2010). Analysis of a reactive agility field test. *Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 13 3*, 376-378. [https://consensus.app/papers/analysis-agility-field-test-young/01fec2786ef755b790d6db6db9637e75/ (https://consensus.app/papers/analysis-agility-field-test-young/01fec2786ef755b790d6db6db9637e75/

Milanović, Z., Sporiš, G., Trajković, N., James, N., & Šamija, K. (2013). Effects of a 12 Week SAQ Training Programme on Agility with and without the Ball among Young Soccer Players. *Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 12 1*, 97-103. [https://consensus.app/papers/effects-week-training-programme-agility-without-ball-milanović/967e40951a76536ea35fb260223e6752/(https://consensus.app/papers/effects-week-training-programme-agility-without-ball-milanović/967e40951a76536ea35fb260223e6752/

My favourite ways to improve footballers speed & accelerationCategoriesFooty Tips

Boost Your AFL Game: Master the Art of Acceleration in Just Three Steps

Hey there, AFL enthusiasts! Ready to leave your opponents in the dust? It’s all about nailing those first three steps of acceleration. This blog post is your ultimate playbook, packed with the nitty-gritty on accelerating like a pro in AFL. We’re talking top-notch drills, insider strategies, and a deep dive into the science behind swift moves. Let’s get you up to speed and turn heads on the field!

Understanding Acceleration in AFL:

In the heart-pounding world of AFL, speed is your best friend. And not just any speed – we’re zeroing in on acceleration. It’s about blasting off the starting line, seizing control of the ball, and sidestepping the competition when it matters most. Mastering acceleration means you’re not just playing the game; you’re dominating it.

The Science Behind Acceleration:

Ever wonder what makes you zip across the field like a bolt of lightning? It’s all in the mechanics and muscle. We’re talking about explosive leg power, perfecting your body’s angles, and training those fast-twitch muscle fibers to react in a flash. Get this formula right, and you’re on your way to becoming an acceleration maestro.

Key Drills and Exercises:

It’s showtime! Transform theory into action with drills designed for AFL champs. Picture yourself nailing wall drills, powering through sled sprints, and leaping into plyometrics. And that’s just for starters. We’ve got a whole lineup of game-changing routines to skyrocket your acceleration.

Speed vs. Acceleration:

Let’s set the record straight – speed and acceleration are two sides of the same coin, but they play different games. Speed’s about the long haul, but acceleration? What’s your secret weapon for those make-or-break moments in AFL? Fine-tune your acceleration, and watch the game bend to your rhythm.

Tailored Training for Every Position:

No two AFL players are the same, and neither is their approach to acceleration. Whether you’re a midfielder needing quick bursts, a forward eyeing the goal, or a defender on the prowl, we’ve got bespoke tips to amp up your acceleration game.

Staying on Track:

Consistency is key, and tracking your progress is your roadmap to success. We’re dishing out pro tips on training smart, recovering right, and using tech to keep your acceleration gains on a steady climb.

To learn these strategies in greater detail watch the below YouTube Video where Jack Mclean discusses this topic on his podcast:

Strength training can enhance acceleration and performance in various sports. Research shows:

1. Resisted sprint (RS) training improves acceleration and leg power, similar to nonresistant sprint (NRS) training, without adversely affecting acceleration kinematics or gait [(Spinks et al., 2007)](https://consensus.app/papers/effects-resisted-sprint-training-acceleration-spinks/f38d54c9f4ef5b9ebab8039e17cc9ee0/

2. Heavy strength training leads to significant improvements in strength and power-related measurements, though its combination with plyometric training does not significantly enhance performance in professional soccer players compared to strength training alone [(Rønnestad et al., 2008)](https://consensus.app/papers/shortterm-effects-strength-plyometric-training-sprint-rønnestad/329b4634b11b5fa7a32919ff24522806/

3. Strength training with heavy versus light load on weighted sled towing significantly improves sprint acceleration ability without negative effects on sprint performance [(Kawamori et al., 2014)](https://consensus.app/papers/effects-weighted-towing-with-heavy-versus-light-load-kawamori/b2f73c3bc43855709a26fcc7fd262e59/


Wrapping Up:

You’ve got the power tips, the drills, and the insider strategies. Now, it’s your move. Take these insights, hit the field, and start your journey to AFL greatness. Remember, every champion’s journey starts with mastering those first three steps of acceleration. Ready, set, go!

Ready to make those acceleration gains?

Check out our favourite acceleration drills with the below videos:

Football's Acceleration & Top Speed SecretsCategoriesHigh Performance Podcast Strength & Conditioning Coaches Tips

#246 – Speed Demons: Unleashing Football’s Acceleration & Top Speed Secrets

Introducing “Football’s Acceleration & Top Speed Secrets”! Gerard takes you on a thrilling journey into the world of football speed training, offering practical insights and strategies that can be applied by players, coaches, and enthusiasts alike. As an accomplished coach and educator, Gerard draws from his extensive experience working with athletes at all levels, providing you with proven techniques and training methods to enhance your game. Uncover the hidden secrets of accelerating like a pro and reaching top speeds on the field with this invaluable resource. Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting, “Football’s Acceleration & Top Speed Secrets” is your key to unlocking your full potential on the pitch.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Key components for acceleration in team sport athletes
  • Training methods and drills he uses to improve top speed, allowing players to reach their maximum velocity on the field
  • Common misconceptions in acceleration training
  • What does a top-speed training session look like
  • Exercises for improving acceleration and power

People mentioned:

  • JB Morin
  • Dan Pfaff
  • Jonas Twiah Dodoo
  • Stu Mcmillan
  • Dan Moore
  • Ken Clarke

Unlocking Acceleration and Top Speed in Team Sport Athletes: Insights from Gerard O’Donnell


Acceleration and top speed are crucial elements in team sports, enabling athletes to gain an edge over their opponents. To delve deeper into this topic, we turn to Gerard O’Donnell, the Coach Education Manager at Athletics Ireland. With his expertise in athlete development, O’Donnell sheds light on key components and training strategies for unlocking acceleration and top speed in team sport athletes. In this blog post, we will explore O’Donnell’s insights and recommendations, providing valuable information for coaches, trainers, and athletes seeking to enhance their performance on the field.

The Skill of Acceleration

When it comes to acceleration, O’Donnell emphasizes that it is not merely a physical attribute but a skill that can be honed. Rather than pushing athletes to exhaustion, he focuses on teaching proper technique and body positioning. O’Donnell stresses the importance of maintaining a straight line from the ankle through the hip to the shoulder, which optimizes force generation and minimizes energy leakage. By helping athletes develop a solid foundation of posture and body awareness, he sets the stage for effective acceleration.

Debunking Misconceptions

O’Donnell addresses common misconceptions surrounding acceleration and top-speed development. One such misconception is the belief that high volume is necessary for improvement. Instead, O’Donnell suggests breaking down the skill into its components and gradually increasing intensity. He advocates for targeted drills that focus on specific aspects, such as posture, effective ground interaction, and foot placement. By emphasizing quality over quantity, athletes can make significant strides in their acceleration capabilities.

Building Acceleration and Top-Speed Training Programs

O’Donnell provides insights into structuring training programs to enhance acceleration and top speed in team sport athletes. He recommends starting with a concentrated focus on acceleration, allowing athletes to develop proper technique and movement patterns. O’Donnell suggests dedicating a few weeks to solidifying acceleration before gradually introducing top-speed training.

During acceleration sessions, O’Donnell advises coaches to allocate sufficient time for warm-up, skill breakdown, and drilling. Adequate rest periods are crucial to ensure athletes can perform at their best and optimize learning. As athletes become more comfortable with acceleration, O’Donnell incorporates elements of top-speed training, focusing on refining technique and increasing intensity.

O’Donnell emphasizes the importance of strength and power training for acceleration and top-speed development. General strength exercises, such as hip-dominant lifts, contribute to overall body robustness and stability. He also recommends including power exercises like Olympic lifts, resisted jumps, plyometrics, and medicine ball work to enhance explosive power and transfer it to on-field performance.

Practical Application and Case Studies

To further illustrate his approach, O’Donnell shares practical examples and case studies. He discusses specific drills and exercises designed to improve acceleration and top speed, including variations of resisted sprints, agility ladder drills, and change of direction exercises. O’Donnell emphasizes the importance of consistent practice and technique refinement to ensure athletes maximize their potential in team sports.


Gerard O’Donnell’s insights provide valuable guidance for coaches, trainers, and athletes aiming to unlock acceleration and top speed in team sport athletes. By recognizing acceleration as a skill and focusing on proper technique, athletes can achieve optimal performance on the field. Breaking down the skill into its components and gradually increasing intensity allows for targeted training and improvements in efficiency.

O’Donnell’s emphasis on strength and power training underscores the importance of developing a robust body capable of withstanding the demands of acceleration and top speed.

By incorporating a variety of exercises, coaches can enhance explosive power and contribute to athletes’ overall performance.

Incorporating O’Donnell’s recommendations and tailoring them to individual athletes and team sports can lead to notable improvements in acceleration and top speed, ultimately enhancing team performance and success.

Listen: iTunes | Spotify

Football player developmentCategoriesHigh Performance Podcast Strength & Conditioning Coaches Tips

#242 – Multi-faceted approach to performance and player development in football

Unveiling the Unique Performance Approach of Feyenoord Rotterdam


“Feyenoord Rotterdam, one of the most esteemed football clubs in the world, has built a reputation for its unique approach to football player development and player performance. In this blog post, we will delve into the key aspects that make Feyenoord stand out among its peers in the realm of football player development. From their multi-faceted strategies to their emphasis on team culture and cutting-edge analysis techniques, Feyenoord’s commitment to excellence in nurturing and honing talent is truly remarkable.

One time, the club’s dedication to individual player growth and overall team success set them apart from others in the industry. Their holistic and forward-thinking approach ensures the development of not only skilled players but also well-rounded individuals.

Another crucial factor that contributes to Feyenoord’s success in player development is its strong focus on youth academies. Through these academies, the club identifies and nurtures young talents, providing them with the necessary resources, coaching, and support to flourish in their football careers. This emphasis on youth development has consistently produced a stream of talented players, making Feyenoord a force to be reckoned with in the world of football player development.”

Highlights from the episode:

  • Feyenoord Rotterdam’s multi-faceted approach to performance
  • How a breakfast club accelerates a successful player development
  • Benefits of coordinated-based movement training
  • How he uses movement analysis and aerobic capacity to measure movement efficiency
  • The software he uses for movement analysis

People mentioned:

  • John Pryor
  • Bec Pryor
  • Frans Bosch
  • Eddie Jones
  • Ruben Peeters

A Multi-Faceted Approach to Performance

At Feyenoord, performance is not limited to just one aspect of the game. Instead, it encompasses a comprehensive set of pillars, including movement literacy and quality, lifestyle, periodization and planning, and DNA. By addressing each of these pillars, the club ensures a holistic development process for its players.

Movement Literacy and Quality

Feyenoord places great importance on players’ movement skills and quality. They recognize that mastering fundamental movements and techniques is crucial for optimal performance. By focusing on movement literacy, players are equipped with a solid foundation, allowing them to excel in various game situations. Moreover, the emphasis on movement quality ensures that players perform actions efficiently and with precision.


Understanding that performance is not solely determined by training sessions and matches, Feyenoord pays close attention to players’ lifestyles. This pillar encompasses a wide range of factors, such as nutrition, sleep, recovery, and overall well-being. By promoting a healthy and balanced lifestyle, the club maximizes players’ potential both on and off the field.

Periodization and Planning

Effective periodization and planning are crucial for long-term player development. Feyenoord employs meticulous planning to ensure that players reach their peak performance during key moments of the season. By strategically managing training loads, recovery periods, and match schedules, the club optimizes performance and reduces the risk of injuries.


Every club has its own identity and style of play, and Feyenoord is no exception. The club’s DNA represents its core principles, values, and playing philosophy. By instilling a strong sense of identity, Feyenoord fosters a cohesive and harmonious team dynamic, which ultimately translates into improved performance on the field.

The Power of Team Environment and Culture

Feyenoord understands the significance of a positive and supportive team environment. While it is not mandatory for success, it serves as a catalyst for growth and development. One notable example is the implementation of a “breakfast club” inspired by the documentary “The Last Dance” featuring basketball legend Michael Jordan. This early morning training program, initially designed for players who needed extra attention, not only improved their physical fitness but also created a strong sense of camaraderie within the group.

Coordinated-Based Movement Training

Feyenoord incorporates coordinated-based movement training influenced by the work of Frans Bosch, a renowned movement specialist. This approach focuses on improving players’ coordination, body awareness, and movement efficiency. Unlike traditional training methods, the emphasis is not on physical exhaustion but on the refinement of movement patterns. Although it may take several weeks to see tangible results, the long-term benefits in terms of enhanced sharpness and performance are remarkable.

Balancing Efficiency of Movement and Traditional Conditioning

When it comes to player development, Feyenoord recognizes the need for a case-by-case approach. For players with deeply ingrained movement habits, a more extended period may be required to achieve significant changes. In such cases, traditional strength and conditioning methods may be preferred. On the other hand, for younger players or those with limited training history, coordinated-based movement training can bring about noticeable improvements within a shorter timeframe. The club values a flexible and adaptable approach tailored to individual needs.

Cutting-Edge Movement Analysis Techniques

Feyenoord utilizes modern technology and movement analysis to enhance player performance. By recording training sessions and matches, the club’s performance analysts provide valuable feedback and insights. The use of smartphones and video conferencing platforms like Zoom allows for real-time remote analysis, ensuring that no detail goes unnoticed. This analysis helps identify areas of improvement and fine-tune players’ techniques, ultimately leading to enhanced on-field performance.


Feyenoord Rotterdam’s commitment to a multi-faceted approach, team culture, coordinated-based movement training, and cutting-edge analysis techniques has set them apart in the world of football. By prioritizing players’ movement literacy, quality, and lifestyle, and adhering to a well-structured plan, the club consistently nurtures talented athletes who excel both individually and collectively. As Feyenoord continues to pave the way for player development and performance enhancement, their methodologies serve as a source of inspiration for clubs worldwide.

Listen: iTunes | Spotify