Promotional graphic for a Q&A session featuring Dean Benton on maximizing athletic performance with VUEmotion.CategoriesBlog Promo other business

Using Vuemotion to maximise on field athletic performance

Dean Benton

The Era of Rapid Insights with AI Gait Analysis

Can you explain why video analysis is used to assess various aspects of running mechanics?

Primarily to assess the qualitative aspects of all forms of running, which could be acceleration, deceleration, max speed, and change of direction (COD). Film as a means of visual feedback has been around for a long time. Although, it took a long time for coaches 50 years ago to access it. However, compared to 30 years ago, it is simply more available – instantly available of course. iPads and iPhones are a compelling form of feedback when working with athletes in very small groups. I would argue that it is too relied upon by younger coaches. It is important to develop observation skills in real-time. Ultimately, a well-trained coaching eye, experience, and judgment are still required to interpret video and apply it to the practical environment. What can be heard, seen, or sensed, still largely cannot be measured. In many ways, it is better initially to learn how to coach without the use of technology. Although, used judiciously video is a very powerful tool.

Now with Vuemotion’s AI gait analysis, we can have video analysed in 24 hours. It was only 20-25 years ago this information took biomechanists about a week to get the same information back to athletics coaches. Although, we now have a situation presently where we are drowning in information, but devoid of wisdom in how to apply it – particularly in a team sport setting. Mainly because it is so easy and seductive to collect this information. However, how is it interpreted? Used in programming and ultimately coached?

Decoding Metrics for Speed and Acceleration

ALTIS Kinogram Method and Beyond

When evaluating max velocity and acceleration what specific metrics or patterns do you look for in the data?

I think the ALTIS Kinogram method is excellent. It can have some relevance to field sports. Although, it is only descriptive in nature and stops short of detailing the ‘reason’ and ‘correction’ for errors. The Kinogram method is valuable for describing linear max speed, but we know it doesn’t reference acceleration and deceleration, which form a significant part of field sport running.

The VueMotion 20m fly and 20m acceleration offer excellent insights into the direct descriptors such as time, speed, stride length, stride frequency, and contact/flight time. The 2-D kinematic analysis also provides a valuable understanding of how a player runs. Acceleration is about what you do on the ground, so I look at how a player does this. Max speed is about what you do in the air, so considering how someone repositions limbs preparing for the ground, is very insightful.

 

Athletics has been assessing gait for years. This provides a good guide for us. However, field sport athletes do run differently and are often heavier than track athletes. This does influence stride length, stride frequency, and contact/flight time parameters, but the art is knowing how to interpret these differences.

 

Optimizing On-Field Performance with Video Feedback

How do you tailor running gait analysis to address rehab needs for injured players? What role does technology play in the process?

Depending on the injury, rehab is where significant performance gains can made. If gait analysis is made part of the return-to-run process it can offer tremendous improvements in objective decision-making when a player is ready to return to team training. We must remember that gait is the foundation of function. We can only infer an athlete’s capabilities from 1-dimensional force plates and Nord boards etc. If we revert to the well-established max speed and COD deterministic models by Dr. Warren Young, they underline the importance of reactive leg strength. With the Prepared to Play Triple Hop Test, we can now measure reactive strength in a much more applied way that takes into vertical, anterior-posterior, and mediolateral forces. Therefore, asymmetries, dysfunction, and lack of coordination with hopping are also observed in running-based tests. Namely through differences in stride length, stride frequency, contact times, and of course, kinematics. Having a focus on the process of ‘how’ a player regains running function is more important than a player’s result. Look after the process the product looks after itself.

 

Collaborating for Comprehensive Training Plans

 

In terms of performance enhancement, how do you leverage video feedback to fine-tune running mechanics and optimize players’ on-field speed, acceleration, and deceleration?

I would only use video feedback in a very small group – when I had time. Deceleration is getting a lot of attention of late. In my opinion, it is being complicated and looked at in a reductionist fashion. A discrete deceleration rarely happens in sports in isolation. However, acceleration and a quick transition to reacceleration are much more common. This should greatly influence how we train, teach, and test deceleration. If we simply look at deceleration as a mirror opposite to acceleration, then it is easy to see what are appropriate techniques for both qualities.

 

With the data obtained from video analysis, how do you collaborate with other professionals like physiotherapists and strength coaches to design comprehensive training plans?

Your average professional knows how to fix problems (retrospectively). The very smart professional prevents problems before they occur. Research and experience show a clear connection between running techniques and common injuries. Frans Bosch wrote an outstanding article on the relationship of injury and running technique in 2015. We can now measure these parameters very easily in our own training environment. As such, using gait analysis to 1. assess injury risk; 2. enhance running performance directly; 3. guide rehabilitation; and, 4. influence how running can be enhanced directly via allied programming.

Integrating Vuemotion for Australian Rules Football

What advice would you give to fellow coaches and practitioners looking to integrate Vuemotion analysis into their approach for enhancing player performance in Australian Rules football?

Not to trivialize the severity of contact in AFL, which can be as severe as any football-rugby code at times. However, it doesn’t have the same amount of contact as the rugby codes. Therefore, this should then influence strength training to be slightly less orthodox and be more about enhancing running performance. Depending on the position played, AFL demands all forms of running (acceleration, deceleration, max speed, and COD). If we accept this, what influences these forms of running? How can they be enhanced? In particular, within the limited time made available. Opportunities to enhance running performance ‘directly’ with players in full training are limited. However, there are numerous opportunities and methods to enhance running performance ‘in-directly’. Some are flexibility and gym-based exercises – namely specific plyometrics, reflex strength training, and functional hip exercises.

We know max speed occurs in training and matches, but not always in absolute terms in relation to a player’s max speed PB. However, depending on the position played, AFL players do spend meaningful time at very high and high-speed running where mechanical efficiency is a huge advantage. So, if we see improving mechanical efficiency as advantageous how do we go about it?

We can’t escape that running speed is determined by stride length and stride frequency. Measuring a player’s leg length will tell us what their stride length should be theoretically. This will inform if they are within, or outside norms associated with speed targets you desire them to attain. For example, some players might have a disproportionally low stride frequency, which is often associated with overstriding. Conversely, some players might be overly dependent on stride frequency (human sewing machines) and not apply enough effective force to attain a desired speed or accelerate to speed. As such, judiciously knowing what plyometrics, what flexibility, and what running drills can correct these outliers can make a big difference in a short period of time – both in terms of performance and risk mitigation.

 

Bosch, F., & IJzerman, J. (2015). Running mechanics in injury prevention and performance. In Sports Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation (pp. 106-120). Routledge.

 

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Dean Benton: Sprint running for football codes | Prepare Like a Pro

A headshot of Peta Carige, a sports dietitian.CategoriesBlog Promo other business

From Endurance to Explosiveness: Customizing Energy Periodization for Diverse Athlete Needs with Peta Carige

Peta Carige Sports Dietitian

1. Can you explain what periodization is and how it relates to nutrition for athletes?

Periodisation is when the nutrient requirements of an athlete are optimised or altered to match the type of training they are doing. The nutrient requirements can relate to their supplementation or simply their macronutrient profile or focus. You can periodise nutrition against a ‘macro cycle’ so a block of training or you might do ‘micro periodisation’ and alter the daily intake of an athlete or even what they eat around different training sessions across the week.

2. How do you determine the specific energy needs of different sports and athletes?

This is difficult to explain. The gold standard is by measuring it using RMR and calculations of their energy expenditure, but in practice, it is often firstly by ensuring you have a thorough understanding of their energy expenditure in training across all modalities and sessions. Then you will take into consideration their training age, their goals, and their history. For example, if they are trying to gain muscle mass and have a nine-year training age, then they will require considerably more energy than a second-year athlete who is just looking for body composition optimisation.

3. What are some common mistakes athletes make when it comes to their nutrition, and how can they avoid them?

The most common mistake is a lack of preparation with their nutrition snacks for around training. This can be due to a lack of knowledge or a lack of shopping. My number one tip is to always have emergency snacks, that don’t go off such as canned fish, muesli bars, popcorn, ‘fava beans’, etc in every training bag you have. Also, I strongly encourage athletes to schedule two shopping trips per week, as they often run out of snacks and fresh fruit at the back end of the week.

4. How do you ensure athletes are properly fuelled for training and competition?

The cool thing about this is that we often have data these days to show if the athlete’s training is consistently at a high standard. The way I educate the athlete to identify this is by asking if the quality of their training is the same on a Monday as a Friday. Also, how they recover and back up from back-to-back training is often a good indicator of whether they are nailing their fuelling and recovery around training from food.

 

 5. How do you approach nutrition for athletes with specific dietary restrictions or preferences?

You have to work with all restrictions and preferences. Luckily in team sports, I feel like the rate of allergies is quite low. Those with specific food preferences are often well educated about nutrition and they have to be committed to allocating time to food preparation as they require a lot more time in the kitchen.

6. What are some of the best recovery foods and supplements for athletes?

HIT THE SHOPS! There are so many great snacks and portable foods for athletes these days. I recommend allocating a solid hour to browsing the shops thoroughly. Start in the tinned fish section, where there are amazing fish and rice, fish and bean cans that are portable and super high in fibre and protein, and carbohydrates, so ideal for recovery. There are amazing yogurts these days, high protein muesli bars, flavoured chickpeas, and even pre-made bliss balls. My all-time favourite food for training though is fruit, it contains the carbohydrate you need for energy, but also the vitamins and minerals you need to keep you healthy, so always start in the fresh fruit section.

7. How do you help athletes adjust their nutrition plan during competition season versus off-season?

There is a big difference as athletes change to in-season. The overall change is number of sessions often reduces so they need to be educated on how to change their daily nutrition based on more days and time off. This is their micro periodisation plan. They also need to ensure that they are confident when it comes to their game-day nutrition and recovery plans. In a very simplified example, often their carbohydrate intake reduces, and a focus on protein intake and its distribution increases. Leading up to games it changes again and is a combination of what works for the athlete as an individual and optimising fuelling for each game. Post-game the 24-48 hours post-game is vital to optimise recovery and in an ideal world, every athlete should have their own recovery plan as well that sets them target carbohydrate, fluid, and protein targets for the 24 hours post-game.

To get in contact with Peta check out her website:

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Episode 234 – How to periodize for different energy needs depending on the sport and athletes

Effective Strength Training TechniquesCategoriesCoaches High Performance PLP Podcast

#262 – The Importance of Education and Mentorship for Strength & Conditioning Coaches

Mastering Effective Strength Training: Techniques for Optimal Results

John Mitchell is a seasoned professional with a passion for transforming coaches and driving professional growth. With an impressive background in strength and conditioning, John has honed his expertise in developing innovative strategies, including Effective Strength Training Techniques, that deliver outstanding results.

Effective strength training techniques are the cornerstone of a successful fitness journey. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting on your path to better health, understanding and applying the right methods can make a world of difference. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the strategies that can help you master the art of strength training, ensuring that you achieve the optimal results you desire.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Tips and advice for coaches looking to work with a mentor
  • Certificates and conferences he recommends for networking
  • How to simplify your feedback process
  • How to bring energy to your coaching sessions
  • The importance of being clear on your coaching philosophy

People mentioned:

  • Dan Baker
  • Kelvin Giles
  • Sean Mcrae
  • Ben Serpel
  • David Marsh
  • Charles Poliquin

Why Effective Strength Training Matters

Strength training forms the foundation of any well-rounded fitness routine. It not only helps you build muscle mass but also improves bone density, metabolism, and overall functional fitness. However, the key lies in doing it right. Without proper techniques, you might end up frustrated with limited progress or, worse, risk injuries. That’s why mastering effective strength training techniques is crucial.

The Principles of Effective Strength Training

Before delving into specific techniques, it’s important to understand the principles that govern effective strength training. These principles provide the framework upon which your workouts should be built. They include progressive overload, which involves gradually increasing resistance, and specificity, which focuses on targeting specific muscle groups with appropriate exercises.

Techniques for Optimal Strength Gains

  1. Compound Movements: Compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. They maximize efficiency and result in significant overall strength gains.
  2. Isolation Exercises: Isolation exercises target individual muscles and are essential for achieving balanced muscle development. Examples include bicep curls and tricep extensions.
  3. Proper Form and Technique: Maintaining proper form throughout your exercises is paramount. It not only prevents injuries but also ensures that you’re effectively targeting the intended muscles.
  4. Varied Repetitions and Sets: Incorporating a mix of rep ranges and sets keeps your muscles challenged and promotes both strength and muscle growth.
  5. Rest and Recovery: Giving your muscles adequate time to recover is as important as the workout itself. Overtraining can lead to burnout and hinder progress.
  6. Nutrition and Hydration: Fueling your body with the right nutrients and staying hydrated supports muscle recovery and growth, enhancing the effectiveness of your training.

Creating Your Effective Strength Training Plan

Tailoring a strength training plan to your individual goals is essential. Whether you’re aiming for muscle hypertrophy, increased strength, or improved athletic performance, your routine should reflect your objectives. Consulting a fitness professional can provide valuable insights and guidance in structuring an effective plan.

Staying Consistent for Lasting Success

Consistency is the key to unlocking the full potential of effective strength training techniques. Results won’t happen overnight, but with dedication and adherence to your plan, you’ll start noticing positive changes in your strength and overall fitness. Remember that every person’s journey is unique, so be patient with yourself and celebrate every milestone along the way.

Conclusion

Mastering effective strength training techniques empowers you to take charge of your fitness journey and achieve remarkable results. By understanding the principles, incorporating proper techniques, and designing a personalized plan, you set the stage for optimal strength gains and improved overall well-being. Commitment, consistency, and a passion for growth will propel you toward success, making your fitness goals not just achievable, but sustainable in the long run.

Listen: iTunes | Spotify

A man in a GC SUNS cap and sports attire speaking during an interview.CategoriesBlog Promo other business

Elevating Performance with Gold Coast Suns’ Expert Performance Dietitian, Ben Parker

Get ready to elevate your knowledge of elite sports nutrition with Ben Parker, Sports Dietitian of the Gold Coast Suns. Join us on December 14th at 8 pm AEST for this exclusive masterclass. Limited spots are available, so click the button below to claim your spot and unlock the secrets to peak performance!

Unleashing Football Potential: The Incredible Value of Performance Nutrition!

In the realm of elite sports, every minute detail contributes to the edge that separates champions from the rest. One such integral element is nutrition – the fuel that powers athletes to push beyond their limits and attain peak performance. At the forefront of this nutritional revolution stands Ben Parker, a seasoned Dietitian and professional Chef, who has ingeniously merged his culinary expertise with nutritional science to transform the Gold Coast Suns into an athletic powerhouse. With a captivating background and a wealth of experience, Ben Parker has taken the reins as the head of nutrition at the Gold Coast football club, spearheading the creation of a holistic nutrition program that is redefining the very concept of high-performance eating habits.
 

A Master of the Culinary Craft:

Ben is both a Dietitian and professional Chef, this unique combination empowers him to weave together the science of nutrition and the art of cooking, offering athletes not only meals that nourish but also tantalize the taste buds. He crafts nutrition solutions that transcend the mundane, turning each dish into a delectable masterpiece. Ben’s culinary prowess elevates the Gold Coast Suns’ nutrition program from mere sustenance to an experience that athletes eagerly anticipate. Central to Ben’s role as head of nutrition is the comprehensive nutrition program he’s architecting for the Gold Coast football club. His ingenuity shines through in the meticulous planning of meals and snacks around critical training sessions. These meals aren’t just nourishing; they’re meticulously designed to exemplify high-performance eating habits, providing athletes with the energy and nutrients required to excel on the field.

Empowerment through Knowledge:

One glance at Ben’s profile and it’s evident that he’s not just a chef or a dietitian – he’s an educator. The nutrition program extends beyond the plate, encompassing group and individual nutrition education sessions. Ben empowers athletes with the knowledge, teaching them the significance of each nutrient, the impact of their choices, and the science behind their meals. This transformational approach fosters a sense of ownership over their dietary habits, amplifying the program’s impact on and off the field. Ben Parker’s influence transcends traditional boundaries. His nutrition program doesn’t just end with education and meals; it’s a holistic journey. The ongoing nutrition counseling he provides ensures athletes have a steady support system to navigate their dietary choices. Cooking classes impart practical skills that extend beyond their sporting careers, shaping their lifelong relationship with food. The game-day nutrition and supplement support guarantee that each athlete steps onto the field with an optimal nutritional advantage. Elite Habits, On and Off the Field: The philosophy Ben Parker has etched into the Gold Coast Suns’ nutrition program isn’t just about in-game success – it’s about nurturing elite habits in every facet of life. By merging his culinary flair, nutritional science, and educational prowess, he’s sculpting a new generation of athletes who understand that their bodies are temples deserving of the finest nourishment. A Legacy that Extends Beyond: Beyond his pivotal role with the Gold Coast Suns, Ben Parker continues to leave his mark on the world of elite sports. His involvement with elite athletes during training camps and competitive campaigns showcases his unwavering commitment to elevating performance through nutrition. This legacy is a testament to his enduring passion for helping athletes reach their full potential. In conclusion, Ben Parker isn’t just a Performance Dietitian; he’s a visionary who’s revolutionizing the way athletes perceive nutrition. With his culinary creativity, scientific acumen, and educational zeal, he’s transforming meals into moments of empowerment and fueling the Gold Coast Suns’ journey to athletic excellence.

Visit: Ben Parker today and unlock your true football potential. Prepare to be inspired, motivated, and equipped with AFL recipes and tools to take your game to the next level!

Watch the founder of Prepare Like a Pro interviewing Ben Parker:

Episode 32- Ben Parker
Effective Strength and PowerCategoriesCoaches Medical PLP Podcast

#260 – How to Design a Strength & Power Program for your Sport

In the realm of athletic prowess, the pursuit of excellence knows no bounds. Every stride, every leap, and every tackle is a testament to the unrelenting dedication that drives athletes to reach their peak performance. In this journey, one cornerstone stands tall: effective strength and power training. This dynamic duo forms the bedrock upon which champions are built, allowing athletes to unleash their full potential on the field.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Key fundamentals of Strength & Power training that every athlete should be aware of
  • How he uses movement screens to individualize his strength and power programs
  • His advice for athletes when it comes to setting achievable goals in their Strength & Power training
  • How does he address the psychological aspect of training athletes to help them perform at their best
  • Top three pieces of advice for athletes who want to optimize their Strength & Power training

Effective Strength and Power: A Pathway to Athletic Supremacy

When it comes to designing programs that propel field-based team athletes, such as rugby and football players, toward their zenith, the key lies in the meticulous orchestration of their strength and power regimens. Brentan Parsons, a seasoned Strength & Power Coach at Gold Coast Titans, unveils the underlying philosophy that drives his approach.

At the heart of Parsons’ methodology lies a profound emphasis on establishing structural fundamentals. These fundamentals encompass an array of fundamental movements, including the likes of push-pull motions, overhead presses, squats, lunges, hip hinges, and the art of controlled landing. Each of these elements forms the building blocks upon which an athlete’s strength and power are harnessed and honed.

The Blueprint: Strategic Screening and Assessment

Parsons’ approach isn’t merely a shot in the dark; it’s a meticulously crafted symphony. To tailor his training protocols to the unique needs of each athlete, he employs a comprehensive screening process. This involves a battery of tests, evaluating factors such as hamstring flexibility, piriformis function, hip flexor health, shoulder rotation capacity, and the robustness of the shoulder cuff. These insights offer a roadmap for designing a program that addresses an athlete’s individual strengths and weaknesses, ensuring a solid foundation for future growth.

Setting the Course: Goal Setting for Optimal Gains

Goal setting is the compass that guides an athlete’s journey to success. Parsons sheds light on this crucial aspect, advocating for a multifaceted approach. The nature of goals, he explains, depends on an athlete’s phase, whether in the throes of competition or basking in the off-season’s respite. However, the crux of effective goal setting, according to Parsons, lies in identifying and prioritizing immediate needs. This hierarchy ensures that athletes focus their energies on what’s truly essential for their development.

Mastering the Mental Game: Navigating the Emotional Terrain

The realm of sports is a rollercoaster of emotions, and effective coaching extends beyond the physical domain. Parsons delves into the often-overlooked psychological and mental aspects of coaching. Drawing parallels between the stages of grieving and the stages of rehab, he elucidates the importance of maintaining emotional equilibrium. Striking a balance between highs and lows is essential for an athlete’s overall well-being and sustained success.

In a world where results are paramount, athletes sometimes find themselves succumbing to the allure of shortcuts. Parsons addresses this common pitfall with a seasoned perspective. He advises athletes to resist the urge to hasten progress by pursuing excessive supplementary sessions. Instead, he champions a steadfast faith in the training process, coupled with open communication with strength coaches. It’s a reminder that the road to excellence is paved with patience and diligence.

In Conclusion: A Holistic Approach to Athletic Eminence

As the sun sets on this exploration of effective strength and power training, a profound understanding emerges. Brentan Parsons’ philosophy is not merely a guide to building physical prowess; it’s a blueprint for nurturing the holistic growth of an athlete. By focusing on foundational movements, tailored assessments, strategic goal setting, and emotional resilience, athletes can chart a course toward unparalleled excellence. This journey, rooted in dedication and guided by wisdom, is the true hallmark of champions on and off the field.

Listen: iTunes | Spotify

Injury Mitigation MythsCategoriesCoaches Medical PLP Podcast

#258 – The Resilient Athlete: Enda King’s Insights into Developing Strength and Mitigating Injuries

Key topic: The Resilient Athlete: Enda King’s Insights into Developing Strength and Mitigating Injuries 

Enda King is a highly accomplished and sought-after sports physiotherapist, researcher, and educator, specializing in Injury Mitigation Myths. With a wealth of experience in sports medicine and athlete performance, Enda has become a prominent figure in the field.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Common misconceptions for injury mitigation
  • Tips and advice for increasing player availability in field-based sports
  • Things he considers when adjusting the training load in his sessions
  • Exercises for athletes returning from a groin injury
  • Practical tips parents can apply to mitigate injuries

People mentioned:

  • Frans Bosch
  • Ian Jeffrey
  • Nick Winkelman
  • Chris Rictor

Introduction

When it comes to injury mitigation, there’s no shortage of well-meaning advice and popular beliefs. From the idea that exercise alone is a shield against injuries to the pursuit of a magical solution that guarantees injury prevention, these misconceptions can lead athletes and coaches down the wrong path. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unpack these myths and reveal the science-backed truths that can help athletes build robust bodies and enhance their performance sustainably.

The Silver Bullet Fallacy

One of the most pervasive myths in the realm of injury mitigation is the notion of a “silver bullet” solution. This belief suggests that there’s a single approach or technique that can prevent injuries across the board. While it’s tempting to hope for a quick fix, the reality is far more nuanced. Every athlete’s body is unique, and their individual needs and vulnerabilities must be considered.

Individualization: Anatomy and Sport Demands

Enda King, Head of High Performance and Development at Aspetar, emphasizes the importance of individualization in injury mitigation. According to King, the focus should not solely be on exercise or a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it’s crucial to consider an athlete’s anatomy and the demands of their sport. Each sport places specific stresses on the body, and tailoring training regimens to these demands can contribute significantly to injury prevention.

Performance-Oriented Approach

Rather than fixating solely on injury prevention, a performance-oriented approach can yield more effective results. King advises athletes to focus on what they need to achieve in terms of performance and conditioning. By setting performance-related goals, athletes can work towards building their bodies to withstand the demands of their sport. This perspective shift can lead to more comprehensive and sustainable injury mitigation strategies.

Beyond Exercise: Mechanics and Explosive Strength

To truly dispel injury mitigation myths, it’s important to expand the focus beyond exercise alone. Mechanics and explosive strength play critical roles in an athlete’s ability to prevent injuries and perform optimally. Running mechanics, for instance, can impact an athlete’s susceptibility to certain injuries. Additionally, focusing on explosive strength can enhance an athlete’s overall resilience and ability to recover from intense physical demands.

Balancing Training Loads

One of the challenges in injury mitigation lies in finding the right balance between pushing an athlete’s limits and avoiding overexertion. King suggests that coaches and athletes need to strike a delicate balance between pushing and pulling back during training sessions. While having a structured training plan is essential, it’s equally important to listen to the body’s signals and adjust training loads based on an athlete’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall condition.

Rehabilitation and Bridging the Gap

In the realm of injury rehabilitation, misconceptions can also cloud the path to recovery. King specifically addresses the rehabilitation of groin injuries, which often require careful attention and a strategic approach. He highlights the importance of targeting specific muscle groups to bridge the gap between gym exercises and on-field activities. Strengthening the muscle groups relevant to an athlete’s sport can prevent re-injury and ensure a smoother transition back to full performance.

Practical Tips for Athletes and Coaches

While professionals like Enda King provide invaluable guidance, not all athletes have access to a dedicated support team. For developing athletes or those without access to specialized coaches, practical tips can make a significant difference. Prioritizing rest and recovery, listening to the body, and avoiding the urge to overextend are key takeaways. By being mindful of their bodies and implementing consistent training routines, athletes can pave the way for long and successful careers.

Conclusion

In the journey toward injury mitigation, it’s essential to debunk the myths that often lead athletes astray. The truth lies in individualization, performance-oriented approaches, and a comprehensive understanding of an athlete’s body mechanics and strengths. By dispelling misconceptions and embracing well-informed strategies, athletes and coaches can work together to build resilient bodies that are primed for peak performance and long-lasting health. Remember, there’s no magic solution, but with knowledge and dedication, the path to injury mitigation becomes clearer than ever before.

Listen: iTunes | Spotify

elite human performance leadershipCategoriesCoaches High Performance PLP Podcast

#256 – The Hidden Determinants Behind Human Performance

The Hidden Determinants Behind Human Performance

Greg, highly trained in leadership and elite human performance leadership, works globally, offering diverse skills to clients. He is the Managing Director of Lead the Pack, a consultancy for Leadership and Elite Human Performance leadership.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Common determinants from champions that contribute to athletic excellence
  • Effective ways to open up the mindset of athletes
  • Key principles to be an effective leader
  • How to develop resilient athletes
  • The significance of trusting your instinct

Building Athletic Resilience: Key Strategies for Success

Introduction

Athletic excellence requires more than physical prowess. Success in sports depends on factors beyond talent and hard work. Building athletic resilience is crucial for triumph. In this post, we explore determinants of athletic success, maturing, raising consciousness, and effective strategies for resilience in athletes. We also discuss the power of intuition for better decision-making.

The Hidden Determinants of Athletic Success

Greg Muller, Managing Director at Lead the Pack, researched elite athletes to identify critical success determinants. Maturing and raising consciousness, or building athletic resilience, play a significant role in facing challenges and pressure.

The Power of Maturing and Raising Consciousness

Building athletic resilience involves growth beyond physical skills. Athletes learn, study, seek mentorship, and become well-rounded individuals. This approach enhances performance and nurtures future leaders.

Developing Resilience in Athletes

Resilience is bouncing back from adversity and maintaining mental robustness. Coaches focus on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects to instill resilience in athletes.

The Role of Intuition in Athletic Decision-making

Experience and time sharpen intuition in sports. Elite coaches make critical decisions effectively, even in uncertainty, thanks to finely tuned intuition.

Conclusion

Building athletic resilience involves continuous learning, maturing, and developing well-rounded individuals. Success requires mental strength, emotional fortitude, and spiritual growth. Embracing resilience and intuition leads to extraordinary accomplishments. Nurturing these aspects creates exceptional athletes excelling on and off the field.

Listen: iTunes | Spotify

High-Performance EnvironmentCategoriesCoaches High Performance PLP Podcast

#254 – Creating a Culture of Excellence Strategies for High-Performance

Key topic:  Creating a Culture of Excellence Strategies for High-Performance

Simon Thomas, armed with years of experience and a relentless pursuit of greatness, uncovers the key strategies and principles that underpin high-performance environments. 

From fostering a winning mindset to implementing effective training techniques, Simon leaves no stone unturned in his quest to help you unlock your true potential.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Elements to create a high-performance environment and a culture of excellence
  • Effective Communication that drives high-performance
  • Importance of leadership in maintaining a high-performance environment
  • Strategies for managing setbacks, overcoming obstacles, and bouncing back stronger in the face of adversity
  • Practical tips to build awareness and foster personal growth

Building a Winning Culture: Key Insights from Simon Thomas, Head of High-Performance at Western Force

Introduction

Simon Thomas, the Head of High-Performance at Western Force, shares valuable insights on how to cultivate a winning culture in different contexts. In this blog post, we will explore his thoughts on defining excellence for each group, the significance of effective communication, the diverse forms of leadership, and the importance of building resilience and optimism to achieve success.

Defining Excellence: A Tailored Approach

Simon Thomas emphasizes the importance of customizing the concept of excellence based on the specific group, considering factors like history, resources, and cohesion. By setting realistic and attainable goals, teams can foster motivation and create a culture of achievement that suits their unique circumstances.

Effective Communication: The Key to Unity

In any high-performance setting, communication is the glue that holds the team together. Simon Thomas underscores the significance of effective communication among staff members, players, and coaches. One common pitfall is overwhelming players with an abundance of information. To address this, Thomas advocates for clear and concise messaging, ensuring alignment within the organization. By streamlining communication channels, teams can eliminate confusion and ensure that every individual is on the same page, working towards the same objectives.

Leadership: Beyond Experience

Leadership is the backbone of any successful high-performance environment. Simon Thomas challenges the conventional notion that leadership is solely based on experience or seniority. Some individuals excel at leading by example, inspiring others through their actions and work ethic. Others possess exceptional narrative skills, captivating their peers with their vision and storytelling abilities. Embracing various leadership styles allows teams to tap into the strengths of different individuals and foster a collaborative and dynamic culture.

Building Resilience: Embracing Setbacks

Resilience is a vital quality for navigating the ups and downs of any high-performance journey. Simon Thomas highlights the inevitability of setbacks and challenges and the importance of learning from these experiences. To cultivate resilience, teams can invest in mindset coaching and optimism-focused courses. These resources equip individuals with the tools to remain focused, positive, and solution-oriented even in the face of adversity.

Conclusion

Creating a high-performance environment is a continuous and multifaceted process. Simon Thomas, the Head of High-Performance at Western Force, offers valuable insights into cultivating success in different contexts. By defining excellence tailored to each group’s circumstances, emphasizing effective communication, embracing diverse forms of leadership, and building resilience through optimism, teams can foster a winning culture that drives them toward greatness.

Incorporating these key principles into their approach, teams can set themselves apart in their respective domains and achieve sustained success. Let us take inspiration from these insights and embark on a journey of growth and excellence.

Listen: iTunes | Spotify

AFL W Injury crisisCategoriesBlog Training Program

From Risk to Resilience: Dean Benton’s Approach to mitigate ACL Injuries

Dean Benton

What is the true magnitude of the ACL injury problem in sports today?

It is a significant global issue. The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup has really illuminated this, with a host of big names that won’t feature in the tournament due to ACL injury. Also, ACL injuries in the English Women’s Super League and the US NCAA football have never been more prevalent.

However, Australia is leading the world with ACL injuries. Based on estimations, the annual number of ACL injuries in Australia is expected to more than double by 2030-2031 compared to 2017-2018 levels, with a projected cost being estimated at a staggering AU$300M. Sadly, our AFLW competition statistically leads the world when compared to other team sports. The ACL injury rate in the AFLW competition is 3–7 times higher when compared to other female team sports and 10–19 times higher when compared to male team sports, such as European handball and football (soccer).

How can we shift the focus from curing ACL injuries to preventing them in the first place?

Sometimes we have significant barriers to interventions with serious and complex medical conditions. In these situations, there is understandably extensive research required, ethics committees, financial resourcing, trials, etc. When it comes to ACL prevention, there are no real barriers to intervention. The only apparent barriers are knowledge (coaching), compliance, and allocation of time. At times many leading experts around the world have suggested there exists a culture of acceptance of ACL injury as being something that ‘happens’ to women.

In contrast to anatomic risk factors, power, strength, and neuromuscular coordination deficits can be addressed with proven interventional strategies. These interventional strategies do not require expensive equipment and/or facilities. A lot can be said for good quality coaching, the appropriate time to implement, and the time for the athlete to adapt.

 

Which sports have successfully addressed and reduced the disparity between male and female ACL injury rates?

There are many examples of other sports around the world, such as skiing, dancing, and some women’s rugby programs that have put in place proven methods to significantly mitigate ACLs. World renown expert, Bill Knowles originally built a reputation over 20 years ago when he was at the Burke Mountain Ski Academy. Bill reduced ACL injuries with mogul skiers from approximately 30+ per year down to 2-3 per year. The Australian Women’s Rugby 7s program has an excellent track record with ACL injury over the past 7 years with only 2 ACLs (1 contact & 1 non-contact). The program was led by respective S&C coaches Craig Twentyman in the Rio Olympics and Tom Carter in Tokyo Olympics. Both these coaches did a superb job providing these athletes with advanced, but appropriate leg power development and coordination training modalities. There are other examples of physical development programs in the US that have resulted in an 88% drop in ACL injuries. This should be the rule – not the exception. We all accept the ‘non-modifiable’ factors associated with female ACL injury. However, infinitely more can be done with modifiable factors such as total body coordination and strength.

 

What are the contributing factors that make AFLW (Australian Football League Women’s) rates of ACL injuries particularly high?

The issues facing the AFLW athlete are not unique. The same issues will be faced by NRLW athletes this year and are also being reported by field and court sports in Europe and North America. There has been an explosion of female athlete participation in our field sports in particular, which is great. However, for various reasons, our female athletes have not had the background, or been afforded the same opportunities as our male athletes. The covid lockdown period has and will have implications for us. Our children are not as physically active as they used to be. Furthermore, early specialisation with single sports is depriving our developing athletes of the broader movement vocabulary they require. Particularly, body awareness and control with locomotive skills, which field and court sports demand such as running, jumping and landing, etc. These generic skills are the foundation for being able to express sports skills.

 

If a sport does have a distorted number of ACL injuries, then it is obvious these athletes are not adequately prepared for the demands of the game. As such, preparation is either inadequate or inappropriate. The question is how?

 

The subject of the quality and quantity of coaching and support staff for female field and court sports is something that is discussed globally. The argument of financial resources is typically raised, but conversely so is the duty of care. Some would suggest it becomes false economy to take shortcuts here. Particularly when you take into account the cost of surgery and rehabilitation (~AU$15K per athlete) and replacing players. Also factorising, of course, the long-term issues of not regaining pre-injury levels of performance and early onset of osteoarthritis. However, there are many fine examples around the world of women’s programs being resourced appropriately.

 

How does the Prepare to Play (P2P) Triple Hop Test help in assessing ACL injury risk?

Prepare to Play has partnered with VueMotion in designing the P2P Triple Hop Test, which has been specifically designed to assess both locomotive performance and related coordination; the lack of which, is correlated to ACL injuries. In comparison to expensive and time-consuming laboratory-based testing methods, it offers a much more functional, economical, and readily available method for field or court sports at all levels. The test utilises AI technology that analyses an athlete’s movements. This approach offers an unprecedented, prospective, and preventive approach to field or court sports preparation. The test can be completed with minimal equipment and on any firm and level surface, ideally in an athlete’s own training environment. An analysis is made available as an individual athlete and a group report within 24 hours. From there, interpretation and recommendations can be made available, which provides valuable insights for practitioners and coaches from a coaching and programming standpoint. The uniqueness of the test is that it is able to assess performance and injury risk synonymously.

 

The test also offers a paradigm shift, in that, we no longer need to be ‘chained’ to one-dimensional movement analysis via in-situ laboratory-based testing equipment such as force plates or jump mats. We can now seamlessly analyse training modalities organically but with lab conditions.

 

The test is also advantageous for those athletes wanting to rehabilitate from injury, as effectively as possible. Given that bounding and hopping are respectively exaggerated and unilateral forms of running, the triple hop test shows a clear relationship to gait analysis. Given ACLs are predominantly a running-based mechanism, we must relate the restoration of function to running.

 

The test has also been validated by Australian Catholic University (ACU) against the Vicon camera-based motion system in a laboratory setting, showing a 95% accuracy. It is not the intention to try and compete with systems like Vicon. The P2P Triple Hop Test is a coaching tool. The intention is to make it readily available to more people – more often.

 

There has been a good deal of interest and uptake from Australian clubs and national bodies. Namely, A-League teams, Queensland Rugby League, NRL, Melbourne Storm, and a leading football club from the Netherlands.

 

What are the key gaps or limitations in the current research on ACL injury prevention?

We should never stop researching or looking for gaps within our research. However, we have a plethora of research. In fact, there is now 6 times the research relating to ACLs in comparison to 20 years ago. A quick search on PubMed will reveal this. A lack of research isn’t our issue, but simply the utilisation of it. The narrative and statistics regarding ACLs haven’t changed in 30 years – in fact, it’s getting worse as we know. We must remember that the transfer of sports science/medical research into practice must require a coach. The whole point of sports science is to challenge, change and improve coaching practice – not research for the sake of it. Although, at times there can be a reductionist approach to the research, in there is an exclusive focus on the stance leg and in particular the knee in isolation. It requires strength and coordination of the entire body to ensure forces are absorbed in other parts of the body rather than the knee per se.

 

Many of the answers are staring at us in plain sight. Go and watch any world-class coach of vertical and horizontal jump events. The techniques and methods these coaches teach axiomatically offer substantial insights into preventive measures for ACLs associated with high-speed stepping.

 

In what ways can coaching practices be improved to better address ACL injury prevention?

Quite often we have a false dichotomy of injury prevention and performance enhancement. These two important aspects of athlete preparation are absolutely synonymous.  What is required athletically and technically for ‘stepping’ and ‘stopping’ in terms of performance enhancement also has a protective benefit. Research clearly shows it is eccentric rate of force (RFD) development that distinguishes elite v sub-elite athletes in the speed and power events. Eccentric RFD also separates Men and Women as the effect of gravity takes effect. However, eccentric RFD is the most important quality for the prevention of impact injuries – particularly in women.

 

The primary training modality to improve this quality is plyometrics, which as we know, develops the important quality of reactive strength. Often there is an unfounded perception that plyometrics as a modality causes injury; conversely, it prevents injuries. This perception has resulted in quite a lot of conservatism with the programming and coaching of this training modality – particularly with the female athlete. It could be suggested that the fear that plyometrics can cause injury may well result in many field and court sport athletes being undertrained in terms of preparing them for their respective sports. We must remember that when we change direction, we must tolerate forces up ≥4.5 times body weight. Or, depending on how fast we run at speed, up to >6 times body weight. As such, we need to apply the training principle of progressive overload to ensure our athletes can tolerate and negotiate these forces. Ask an experienced S&C coach how many injuries have resulted from when they have coached plyometrics as a modality over the years. I think you will find you will draw a blank.

 

Importantly, we shouldn’t just think that the development of reactive strength is only relevant to the lower body; it is a total body quality. Mainly as the trunk/core has a significant role to play in force reception and production. This is not to suggest that traditional strength training doesn’t have a role with field and court sport athletes – it does. Although, as Vern Gambetta has always said, “if the only thing you do is weightlifting, then all you end up with is weightlifters”.

 

There are some differences between female and male athletes, which require consideration when designing strength training programs. Essentially females should undertake the same strength training methods as males. However, we need to consider the following generalisations with the female athlete:

  1. Compared to males, females are approximately 50% and 30% weaker in upper body and lower body strength respectively
  2. Females lose strength and muscle tone faster than males

 

Due to these challenges, as well as structural and hormonal considerations, strength training is even more important for female athletes than male athletes. As such, some training variables and training principles require consideration:

  • More frequent exposure to strength within a training week
  • For strength training to be periodised through all phases of the training year. This is a requirement for the female athlete – not an option

 

It is worth noting that, the female athlete is typically ready to commence formal strength training at a younger age in comparison to the male. If we consider the years when the female athlete is most vulnerable to ACL injury (late teens-early 20s), then it makes sense to commence training interventions post-puberty with females from age 13-16 years. These are the critical years to formally commence coordination with jumping, landing, and foundational strength.

What role does strength and conditioning training play in ACL injury prevention?

I suggest it’s critical our S&C coaches have a well-developed coaching skill set and knowledge in developing running, jumping, and landing skills. Also, to consider a move away from the mindset of just having quantitative performance measures and shift to physical mastery with our younger field and court sport athletes. For example, not having a sole emphasis on how much can be lifted; or how fast can they run. Namely, a more qualitative approach to how the athlete runs, lifts, jumps, and lands. Importantly, mastery of these skills. Quantitative performance can then be appropriately pursued at the elite level.

 

Dean Benton: Sprint running for football codes | Prepare Like a Pro

High Performance Athlete TrainingCategoriesCoaches High Performance PLP Podcast

#252 – Strategies for High-Performance AFL Athletes

Key topic: Building Champions: Strategies for High-Performance AFL Athletes

In this episode, we explore high-performance AFL athletes with Daniel Zaknich, Senior Physical Performance Coach at GWS Giants. Discover the science behind AFL excellence, mental resilience, and the strategies that create successful players. Join us for an exciting look into the world of high-performance athlete training.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Big rocks when preparing athletes to perform at a high level
  • Practical tips on strength training and recovery for young athletes
  • Deficiencies he notices in NAB athletes that prevent them from transitioning to AFL athletes
  • Future trends in intervention in AFL performance
  • How he gets coaches on board when he’s starting on a new club

People mentioned:

  • Jason Weber
  • Matthew Inness
  • Andrew Horabin
  • Robin Thorpe

High-Performance Athlete Training: Key Strategies for Success

Aspiring athletes dream of reaching the pinnacle of success in their respective sports. Whether it’s on the field, court, or track, the journey to becoming a high-performance athlete requires dedication, hard work, and the right training strategies. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the essential elements that contribute to achieving peak performance in sports. From routine optimization to effective recovery techniques, every step counts in the pursuit of excellence.

1. The Importance of Team Alignment

At the core of any successful high-performance training program lies a cohesive and aligned team. Teamwork isn’t just essential on the field; it’s equally critical behind the scenes. Coaches, physical performance experts, and support staff must work together with a shared philosophy to ensure athletes receive the best training possible. The key phrase, “high-performance athlete training,” emphasizes the centrality of this concept, where collaboration among team members enhances an athlete’s potential.

2. Prioritizing Routine Elements

One of the most overlooked aspects of high-performance athlete training is establishing and prioritizing routines. For young athletes just starting, routine elements like sleep cycles, nutrition, and weight management play a crucial role in their overall development. These building blocks set the foundation for more intense training later on and can significantly impact an athlete’s performance trajectory.

3. Moving Beyond Specificity

While honing specific skills is essential in sports, young athletes must also focus on developing movement variability. Overemphasizing specificity at an early stage can limit an athlete’s ability to adapt and grow. Encouraging diverse movements and exercises can foster better athleticism and prepare athletes for a more well-rounded performance on the field.

4. Future Trends in High Performance

The world of high-performance athlete training is ever-evolving, and staying ahead of the curve is vital for success. As technology and sports science progress, athletes and coaches can expect advances in recovery modalities and training interventions. Understanding the effectiveness of these new approaches and measuring their impact will be crucial in optimizing athlete performance.

5. Fostering Coach-Athlete Relationships

For a training program to reach its full potential, fostering strong coach-athlete relationships is paramount. Coaches need to engage in open and honest conversations with their athletes, seeking their input and feedback on training methods. Involving coaches in specific training scenarios and exercises can create a sense of ownership and alignment with the overall training strategy.

Conclusion

Becoming a high-performance athlete is a journey that requires dedication, discipline, and a comprehensive training approach. From building a cohesive team with a shared philosophy to prioritizing routines and embracing movement variability, every aspect plays a crucial role in unlocking an athlete’s true potential. As the landscape of high-performance athlete training continues to evolve, staying informed about future trends and optimizing coach-athlete relationships will be essential for achieving success on and off the field. So, aspiring athletes, embrace these key strategies, and set yourself on the path to becoming a high-performance athlete.

Listen: iTunes | Spotify