How to build an AFL body 1CategoriesFooty Program Footy Tips

Jack Mclean: How to Develop an Elite AFL Physique

  1. Meet Jack Mclean: Your Expert Guide to AFL Conditioning

Jack Mclean is not your average coach. He’s a seasoned professional when it comes to preparing athletes for the grueling demands of the AFL season. With years of experience under his belt, he’s well-versed in the intricacies of getting athletes in peak condition. In this blog post, Jack will share his top insights into how to develop the ideal AFL body.

  1. Unveiling the Secrets of Building an AFL Body

Jack Mclean knows that building an AFL body is not just about pumping iron in the gym. It’s a holistic approach that involves diet, recovery, and focused training. In this post, he’ll reveal the key elements that go into crafting the perfect physique for Australian Rules Football.

  1. The Core Components of Your Training Week

A week in the life of an AFL athlete is far from ordinary. Jack takes you through a typical week in his training regime, breaking down the essential components, including conditioning, strength work, and skill development. If you’ve ever wondered how the pros structure their training, this section has all the answers.

  1. Battling Injuries and Staying Motivated

Injuries are an unfortunate part of any sport, and AFL is no exception. Jack shares his insights on dealing with injuries and offers valuable advice on how to stay motivated throughout the season. It’s not just about physical resilience but mental strength as well.

  1. The Muscles Behind the Game

AFL is a game that demands a lot from your body. Jack delves into the specific muscle groups that come into play during the game, highlighting their significance in the sport:

🏋️ Hips: These are crucial for stability and balance, which are vital for runners. Uncovering how imbalances can lead to injury and how to address them. 💪 Shoulders: The open, unstable joint of the shoulder needs strength for injury prevention and player safety. 🦵 Knees: A hotspot for injuries, especially the dreaded ACL tear, and how strengthening the knee area can prevent them.

  1. The Role of Size in AFL

While AFL players come in diverse shapes and sizes, certain physical attributes do provide advantages. Jack explains how height, arm length, and body fat percentages play a role in an athlete’s performance on the field.

  1. Piling on the Pounds: Gaining Weight the Right Way

AFL players need to be mindful of their diets, especially around training times. Discover how eating to complement your workouts can help optimize your gains and keep you fuller for longer.

  1. The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is a critical component of recovery and peak performance. Jack discusses how professional athletes need 8-10 hours of sleep each night and why getting enough rest is vital for every player.

  1. Crafting a Diet for Weight Loss

For those looking to shed some kilos, the right diet is essential. Jack touches on the pre-fueling aspect of training, explaining the energy and nutrition needs of athletes during training sessions and games.

  1. Pro Tips to Start Taking Action

Get ready to put these tips into action. Jack provides a sneak peek of some of the key takeaways and the next steps to kickstart your AFL journey.

 

 

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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

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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

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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.

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

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Jack Mclean: Unleashing Football Potential: A Comprehensive Review of Enhanced Football

Unleashing Football Potential: The Incredible Value of Enhanced Football

In the world of football, athletes constantly strive to push their limits and elevate their performance. Finding the right resources and guidance is paramount. In 2022, I stumbled upon an exceptional business that truly lives up to its name: Enhanced Football. Today, I want to share my positive experience with this platform and highlight the incredible value it brings to football enthusiasts.

A Hub of Knowledge and Expertise

Enhanced Football serves as an invaluable hub of knowledge and expertise, catering to athletes, coaches, and fans alike. From its comprehensive training programs to its insightful articles and resources, the website offers a treasure trove of information to help individuals unleash their football potential.

Training Programs: Igniting Success, Step by Step

One of the standout features of Enhanced Football is its meticulously crafted training programs. These programs target specific areas of improvement, enhancing kicking accuracy, distance, and overall football performance. With a user-friendly interface and step-by-step instructions, athletes can easily follow the programs and track their progress. The attention to detail and video demonstrations facilitate effective technique implementation.

Expert Advice: Ben Stanley and AFLW Star Belle Dawes

Ben Stanley and AFLW star Belle Dawes go above and beyond with their athletes, ensuring each session propels footballers toward improvement. Their wealth of wisdom empowers developing players to gain a deeper understanding of the game and learn from those who have achieved greatness.

Community Engagement and Support: A Vibrant Network

What sets Enhanced Football apart is its vibrant and supportive community. The website features forums, discussion boards, and interactive elements that encourage users to connect, share experiences, and seek guidance. The sense of camaraderie and the opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals foster an environment of growth and learning.

User-Friendly Interface: Navigating with Ease

Navigating through Enhanced Football is a breeze, thanks to its user-friendly interface. The website is thoughtfully organized, making it easy to find desired content quickly. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, the intuitive design ensures a seamless browsing experience, allowing you to focus on absorbing knowledge and improving your skills.

Elevating Understanding and Passion

Enhanced Football has undoubtedly exceeded my expectations as a comprehensive resource for football enthusiasts. Its training programs, expert advice, and interactive community foster an environment that inspires growth, improvement, and success. Whether you’re an aspiring athlete looking to enhance your performance or a football fan seeking valuable insights, this website will undoubtedly elevate your understanding and passion for the game.

Visit: Enhanced Football today and unlock your true football potential. Prepare to be inspired, motivated, and equipped with the knowledge and tools to take your game to the next level!

Watch the founder of Prepare Like a Pro interviewing Ben Stanley founder of Enhanced Football:

 

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Dan Baker: How to use velocity base training with team-based athletes. | Prepare Like a Pro


  1. What is velocity-based training (VBT), and how does it differ from traditional strength training methods?

 A – I don’t like the actual term VBT, I do not recommend basing everything on velocity alone. But the term is pretty much out there, so I use it. But basically, it means using velocity scores to help inform about resistance training…about the correct resistance to use, about fatigue, etc. So coupled with the coach’s eye, set RPE/RIR, % est. 1RM, it adds more objective data upon which informed decisions can be made.

 

  1. How can VBT be effectively utilized with team-based athletes to enhance their strength and power development?

A – By getting a resistance/velocity profile for CERTAIN KEY different strength and power exercises for each player, we can see any changes in the velocity score for any given resistance, relative to a certain smallest worthwhile change, indicating a change in strength or power. It is that simple.

And by knowing that your 1RM or max effort velocity before failure is the same. The 1RM velocity, the 5th rep of a 5RM, 10th rep of a 10RM, it is the same velocity. By knowing this velocity, I then know how close each set was to failure/complete fatigue. Therefore I can better control training, get closer to failure when I want, or steer a bit further away from it when I want.

 

  1. What are the key advantages or benefits of incorporating velocity-based training into the training protocols of team-based athletes?

 

A- As above, without having to test, we can see on a regular basis if strength/power is maintained, improving, or temporarily suppressed due to fatigue from games or training or perhaps due to some niggle or injury. And the great thing is we know the exact amount or are pretty close to it.

For every 0.05 m/s change in velocity, the equivalent change in strength is ~2-2.5% 1RM.

Eg. From my above answer, the athlete comes into training, we use a last warmup set of say 60-65%1RM x 1-2 reps for a squat. Their score is 0.1 m/s down on the usual score they get with that weight. Say it is 100kg and the athlete’s most recent 1RM was 150kg. This means their strength is suppressed on that day by around 5%. So, if their training program for this session was to do 70% x 5, 75% x 5, and 80% x 5, meaning 105, 112.5, and 120kg, we may need to adjust those resistances. Instead of using those resistances, we lower them by ~5%. So, the first set is 100kg (but we do it for 5-reps now, not the 1-2 as per when it was last warmup), then 107.5 kg, and then 112.5 kg. Simple.

But if during any of those sets, the scores tend to shift back to normal, well we would increase the resistance for the following set and take it that the athlete was starting to feel better (this happens sometimes, they “warm up” better into the session).

The other way is to do a CMJ 1-2 per week, at the end of warmup, to monitor leg “freshness/readiness to train” in relation to loads, on an ongoing basis.

 

  1. How do you determine the appropriate velocity ranges or thresholds for different exercises when implementing VBT with team-based athletes?

 

A – The threshold is a 0.05 m/s change for all strength exercises (average velocity) for the BEST rep in a set and 3% change in peak power for a power exercise. Do not act on anything less.

And that is just a ~ 2.5% change as well. So, for some exercises, it may mean no change in weight (eg. female athlete with 50kg 1RM bench press, the minimum weight change of 2.5 kg means 5%…so do we change the weight 5% if their score may be 0.05 m/s or ~ 2.5% 1RM down on a given day?) I probably would not…or I would consider other factors besides just the velocity score before deciding (I always do anyway, consider other factors).

Get to know Dan Baker on our Podcast:

  1. Could you provide examples of specific exercises or movements that are commonly used in VBT for team-based athletes?

 

A – Your KEY movements that relate to success in the sport or that relate to physical tasks in the sport (sprinting, jumping, CoD, tackling, etc). Squat, pull-ups, bench press and bench pull, rows, deadlift, OH pressing, deadlifting, jump squats, power cleans, med ball throws, jumps, etc. We don’t bother using it for isolation exercises or minor things.

  1. What role does technology play in monitoring and assessing velocity-based training in a team setting, and which devices or tools do you find most effective?

 

A- Test what is important. Collect data on what is important. Technology allows us to do that.

Right now, OUTPUT is what I use and recommend. Push was what I used for years, but they got bought out by Whoop and shut down. I have used GymAware and Tendo and they are great as well.  And the PlyometricPower system and a jump matt back in the 1990s.

Most of the devices now that have been around 2 years or more are pretty good and have been validated in university studies. I will leave it to the individual to decide, there are clearly budgetary considerations.

I have been using Velocity devices for 30+ years now. VBT is not new at all.

Just new to some peoples’ minds and the price and size of devices have made them more available to everybody.

OUTPUT is great, same technology but it also measures angle for ROM testing and stability testing. So, this one device, OUTPUT, wow, it tests all our gym stuff. You can also put it on the foot during acceleration and get foot contact/flight time ratios. So, it is pretty cool.

In the gym, if we are measuring, objectively, velocity, ROM, stability, and left v right differences in those things, that is pretty good.

 

  1. How do you ensure that the use of velocity-based training does not compromise the technical skills or sport-specific movements required by team-based athletes?

 

A- How would it be? The idea of using velocity scores is to better manage the training and overload.

 

  1. Are there any specific considerations or adjustments you make when implementing velocity-based training with different team sports (e.g., AFL, basketball, rugby)?

 

A- No. Adjustments are in the program already. Velocity scores just help inform training decisions about loading, motivate the athlete, and hold everybody accountable (S&C Coach and athlete).

 

  1. How do you individualize velocity-based training for team-based athletes who may have varying strength and power profiles or specific positional demands?

 

A – Just do the load-velocity profile for the KEY exercises. Simple.

Your program need not change, you are just supplementing it with a knowledge of velocity scores.

Eg. If we are doing trap bar jumps, what resistance are you using? How do you know if the athlete is trying as hard as possible?

If I program we are doing trap bar jumps with the highest load that allows us to attain 1.2 m/s average velocity, then the athletes and I know what the weight is going to be for their first set (based on data from their load-velocity profile) – this does not matter if it is 35%1RM for one athlete and 50% 1RM for the other, it is the resistance where they get 1.2 m/s on their best rep. Individually determined.

 

Were you over that score by 0.05 m/s average velocity or 3% peak velocity?

If so, add 2.5% to the bar for the next set. Over by 0.1 m/s (ie getting 1.3 m/s), then add 5% for the next set.”

And vice versa if the scores are lower. Simple.

 

Knowledge of velocity scores DRIVES the athlete on power exercises. Drives competition.

 

  1. In your experience, what are the key factors or strategies that contribute to successful implementation and integration of velocity-based training within team-based sports environments?

 

A – Need to develop the load-velocity profile for the Key exercises. It takes about 15 minutes in a test situation. Or it can be done during usual training and does not need a designated test day. Or just gather the info over a few weeks.

For strength exercises, 4-5 resistances, being the last warmup weight (60-65%), about 70% or a 12RM weight, 80% or 8RM, 90% or 3-4RM, all done for just 1-2 reps. Not fatiguing. Take the best rep average velocity score for each resistance.

Then do either a 1RM OR do a full max-out set with about a 6RM (a resistance halfway between the 8RM and 3-4RM). The last rep before failure is your 1RM or max effort velocity. That is the velocity you will fail at, no matter how many reps you do in a set. Ie. Your max effort velocity.

Any other resistance is linear in the velocity relationship. So, what is 75%1RM, I did not test it. The velocity score for 75% will be halfway between what you got for the 70% and 80%% resistances. No need to test every single weight, simple extrapolation does it for us.

 

CategoriesFooty Program Footy Tips

Kelvin Giles | An Athlete Development Model | Prepare Like a Pro

I know I seem to just be meddling again but with the new UKA Coaching Development Strategy underway it is important that everyone keeps on trying to make a contribution as each new step is taken. The words contained in the strategy are being driven to their destination by Mark Munro and Jackie Newton (I am guessing that there are many others behind the scenes as well). I applaud much of what is contained in the document but also know the difficulties that will surround just about every step forward. Some of these difficulties will be physical, some financial others human but most will require a deal of patience, adaptability, and open-mindedness. Transforming words into action must always go through a process of ‘interpretation’ and so it is vital that everyone who is interested make enough contribution to ensuring that the ‘interpretation’ is appropriate. I have already sent these thoughts through to the decision-makers.

The strategy mentions, “Define and publish an Athlete Development Framework with clear coaching roles mapped.” This is of particular interest to me and many others who see the clear link between ‘what has gone before and ‘what is yet to come in terms of the progression of an athlete along their chosen pathway.

It is a very big step to consider trying to create a model that satisfies the demands of the 21st century and the demands of a fledgling coaching strategy. We have all seen hundreds of these in the past and it makes me think that if you are going to create a major change in things then maybe there are some questions to ponder before any decisions are made.

Maybe it is appropriate to consider more than just another flowchart. Don’t get me wrong there is much to be gained by all coaches by offering them some type of diagram that makes things easier to understand. No doubt that without such an overview it is likely that coaches will continue to ‘race to the right’ as they succumb to fast-tracking, quick-fixing, and ‘winning at all ages’.

My point is that we have seen these diagrams since the mid-1990 and yet we are still facing all the limitations that the use and understanding of these diagrams were meant to eradicate. It begs the question ‘are there some smarter things to consider?

Do we need to flesh out the flowchart with initiatives that can make a difference? Do we need to see the journey in a different way? The following diagram was created to form the context of all those elements that form the journey of each athlete. I have always used this chart to act as a template for the courses and workshops I have delivered. Letting this template guide me reduced the chance of me presenting information out of context. It also helped me get things in the right order so that the athlete’s journey was always one of progression and ‘earning the right.

·        I use this diagram to ensure that whatever courses, lectures, and workshops are created, they are in a progressive context. Try to see each box as being the foundation around which the courses are being created.

·        The vertical columns indicate the pillars that support the detail. The General to Related to Specific modules illustrate the ever-changing structure of training as the athlete progresses toward HP. The boxes illustrate some of the content detail.

·        The right-hand side deals with the sports-specific technical journey while the left-hand side deals with the physical journey. This is not to say they are treated as silos, far from it. Coaches will be taught how activities can be chosen and integrated into a valuable prescription.

·        Obviously, the early stages that appear in the top half of the page are those that are applicable to the Children and Youth stages. As each athlete and coach navigate down the page so the content becomes more relevant to Talent and HP – but don’t forget the ever-cycling General to Related to Specific system.

·        You will notice that there is no mention of chronological steps. While all the previous Athlete Development (LTAD) models link quite strongly to chronological age groups (and can offer a semblance of guidance to inexperienced coaches) such reference has done harm in interpretation at times. The Children and Youth sectors are dependent upon maturation/adaptation rates and not on chronological age.

·        When considering the move towards a modular approach to the Coach Education / Development strategy I would suggest that enough time is spent on ensuring that before a coach can make the choice of which journey they wish to undertake they have completed the required introductory courses. “Get them to know what they don’t know”.

·        My first recommendation is to deliver a course that outlines the full fabric of what the coach is about to experience. I call this the Toolbox Course where things like the Maturation Journey, Physical Journey, Skill Journey, Learning Journey, and Behavioural Journey are outlined and experienced by the coaches. Added to these components are things like Planning. All in all, they should leave this introductory course with the tools to conduct at least part of a training session.

·        Obviously, this first step into the world of coaching needs to be immediately backed up when they leave the course. The development of handheld multi-media resources that they can turn to in their first-ever session would be an advantage. Housing appropriate resources (human and physical) at their Club will also be vital so that their first coaching steps are fully supported.

·        Further support should be available locally by the national roll-out of supporting mini-workshops at the Club level all coordinated by the future Club Coaching Directors. These are particularly important in the Physical and Technical components. One can envisage these workshops (30min to 120min) fleshing out the details of the activities designed for each sector. Consider rolling these out via handheld resources, online, and via intra-Club mechanisms.

·        Here it is important for me to make some comments about what you see on the right-hand side and left-hand side of the two journeys (Physical and Technical – two of the building blocks of all journeys)

a.    There is a continuous linking of both sides of this learning continuum.

b.    The ability to integrate elements from both sides into a coherent, progressive training session is vital.

c.    This is where the ‘workshop’ curriculum plays its part.

·        I have a list of tried and tested modules in the form of courses, lectures, and workshops that might be of value for you to scrutinise. If there is any value in them they can be examined by your experts to see if they fit into what you intend to have as the modular structure.

·        I think it safe to say that some of the principles contained in these thoughts are applicable to the Talent and HP pathways also. The content may be different but the continuous link between the Physical and Technical must prevail and is a proven element of Talent Development and HP. The ‘Competition and Arena Skills Journey’ forms the backbone of the transition from Talent Development through to HP and this pillar will require the best minds to assemble the content.

·        This link between the Physical and Technical journey will be a vital component for the Director of Performance to facilitate when the methodology of High Performance in the Tournament setting is examined. However, if the athlete and coach development model (Children – Youth – Talent) is created effectively then the HP pathway should naturally be enhanced.

Happy to share all this with everyone. I hope it stimulates much discussion and that more people add their thoughts so that your decision-making is enhanced. The Coaching Forums that service the Event Group Advisory Panels will be a source of valued information for all coaches.

 

How to build an AFL body 1CategoriesFooty Program Footy Tips

Jack Mclean: How to Develop an AFL Body | Prepare Like a Pro

1. Jack Mclean is a professional AFL strength & conditioning coach who knows a thing or two about preparing athletes for the rigours of the season
2. In this blog post, he shares his top tips on how to develop an AFL body
3. He explains that it’s not just about going to the gym and lifting weights – diet and recovery are just as important
4. He outlines a typical week in his training regime, including conditioning, strength, and skills work
5. Finally, he offers some advice on dealing with injuries and staying motivated throughout the season

  1. What muscles do you use in the AFL? 

Hips: 

The pelvic area is an important component in the AFL due to the high demands of running. High degrees of stability reduce muscle imbalances and improve biomechanics, reducing injury rates for football players who typically kick with only one leg over time.
As you build up your own imbalance from kicking as all the stress goes onto its opposite side through muscular strength alone – thus putting greater force onto this area–you’ll develop pain in what would otherwise be perfectly healthy tissue.

Shoulders: 

The shoulder is an open, unstable joint that requires strength to keep it strong and safe. In many cases where athletes have been injured or unable to perform at their full potential due to injury their shoulders were not able enough stability so they ended up getting hurt more than once even if everything else seemed fine with them! This leads us to why you need delt exercises like rear and lateral raises which will provide support for this important muscle group as well help protect against further injuries from happening.

Knees: 

Knee injuries are a very common occurrence in football, especially when changing direction or looking to give off the ball. The most severe of these is the “ACL” (Anterior Cruciate Ligament). It can be injured by direct contact with another player during twisting motions such as stopping suddenly and then changing direction.

Strengthening muscles around your foot and hip complex in conjunction with efficient running and jumping techniques develop stability and reduce the load on an athlete’s knees.

Check our injury mitigation exercises here:

  1. Does size matter in the AFL? While some successful AFL players come in all shapes and sizes, there are a few physical attributes that seem to be important. For instance height gives an advantage when trying reach for the ball or jump higher than your opponent because it takes less energy for you do so with greater altitude; arm length can affect balance since longer arms mean more time spent balancing on one foot before running back into position. Due to the large running demands of the game it helps to be around 10 – 15% body fat and as it’s a heavy contact sport having enough critical muscle mass around the torso to protect the internal organs and assist in contested ball performance is key. Overall each player will have their preffered optimal weight and this will largely depend on their role for the team and their individual strengths.

  2. How do AFL players gain weight?                                        You should eat around your training times to optimise gains. You’ll be fuller for longer, so don’t worry about trying too hard with food or not being able eat in between meals; just focus on getting some good nutrients into each one! A great way of doing this while still following the rest of our guide is by adding extra scoopfuls into whatever you’re eating at that moment – whether it oatmeal during breakfast time slotting right before workouts…or a protein shake after weights session has ended. You can also improve the nutritional content of your workout by adding further nutrients to the food you already eat. For example, if training early in the morning then try eating breakfast before going to the gym floor so that it contains enough energy for intense workouts and adds a rich sources of necessary vitamins such as Vitamin B12 which is only found naturally occurring within bodily fluids (such as sweat).

  3. How much sleep should I get each night?Professional athletes typically need more than most—it’s recommended that they get 8-10 hours every night.Individual sport athletes are reported to sleep on average 6.5 hours per night while team players get 7 hrs, according to an article from The Conversation. It was also revealed that individual sportspeople were more prone than groups who played together for long periods of time at any given moment due in part by their unwavering commitment towards regular sleeping routines, high quality mattresses and pillows as well most importantly naps during the day which helps them stay fresh before returning back into competition later on throughout tournaments or seasons respectively. Everyone needs sleep in order to feel restored and function their best the next day. Other physical benefits include:
    Allowing your heart rate or breathing patterns, which are controlled during waking hours by thoughts and emotions; these change back as you fall asleep so that they may be re-established on an even keel throughout slumber’s restorative cycles. This helps promote cardiovascular health by stabilizing blood pressure levels at night similar to what occurs when we lie down after being upright for awhile

  4. What type of diet does an AFL footballer need to lose weight? 

The pre-fueling for a training session or a game is a time when athletes must think about their energy needs, carbohydrate intake, and protein consumption. In addition, fruit vegetables provide important micronutrients which assist the immune system with high-stress levels prevalent in this phase of training.
The more you put into it, the better your results will be. It’s important that during training days eat foods like protein-based meals or snacks with wholegrain carbohydrates because this helps ensure adequate recovery from workouts so athletes can back up training sessions with energy and focus!

 

I elaborate more on tips you can start actioning here:

 

 

dean benton 003 300x300 1CategoriesFooty Program Footy Tips

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

Dean Benton

  1. Who has influenced your coaching philosophy the most?

I have always tried to maintain a balance between developing my experience-based knowledge and knowledge-based experience. With the former being practical and the latter theoretical. Although, far from being world-class, having a background as a track athlete gave me a great sense and perception of what speed, power, and strength training aimed at enhancing running should feel like. I have benefited from some amazing mentors over the years who have been more than generous with their time and knowledge. Vern Gambetta’s GAIN faculty has had a big influence on how I think and what I do. These professionals include Frans Bosch, Gary Winckler, Jimmy Radcliffe, Bill Knowles, John Pryor, Kelvin Giles, and Vern himself of course. Others include Bill Sweetenham, Frank Dick, and Esa Peltola. One professional I would have loved to have met was the late Charlie Francis.

 

  1. What are some key considerations for sprint running for football codes?

Track athletes aim to have perfect mechanics in a predictable, ‘closed-skill’, and stable environment. Sprint running in field sports creates the best mechanical outcome in a highly unstable, ‘open-skill’, and unpredictable environment. Coaching and programming based on this philosophy is something John Pryor does better than anyone I know.

 

There needs to be a balance in how acceleration and max speed is addressed depending on the sport and position played. Whilst acceleration development must be principle-based, field sport athletes typically accelerate from an upright posture. As such, training/teaching acceleration must orientate around creating pre-tension and hip projection from standing and rolling starts. Sometimes max speed requirements in field sports are underestimated. However, how it is trained and coached is certainly different to track sprinters. A footballer needs to obtain max speed or a high % of max speed over shorter distances, whereas a track athlete is intentionally delaying the attainment of max speed as long as possible. Practically speaking, I believe we should aim to develop max speed in field sport athletes from a stride frequency standpoint rather than a stride length standpoint. Noting that, a field sport athlete can develop a substantial max speed based on stride frequency rather than prioritizing the development og a long stride length. This approach will transfer best to a field-sport environment, as a field-based athlete must have one foot on the ground to change direction, accelerate/decelerate, resist and break contact.

 

Running must be approached as a skill that can be taught and enhanced. As we know, running in field sports doesn’t occur in isolation; handballs, catching, passing, and kicking all need to be executed at speed. As such, when appropriate running and sports skills should be trained concurrently. This requires upper/lower body independence when executing ball skills at speed.

 

I elaborate more on field sports here: https://www.hmmrmedia.com/2021/10/rethinking-speed-development-for-team-sports/

 

  1. Can you explain your approach to holistic preparation?

To improve speed we must create appropriate and adequate training stimuli. Only providing field sport athletes with 1-2 brief speed-based warmups is an inadequate stimulus. There are many indirect methods of speed development that are often overlooked, including flexibility, leg power, and removing counterproductive modalities.

 

Flexibility – often our single greatest limitation to speed. You can become faster simply by getting more flexible. Furthermore, a lack of hip extension is one of the greatest predictors of injury.

 

Leg power – unless you can produce it vertically then you don’t have it to apply horizontally. Acceleration is the easiest speed quality to improve, as it is most affected by strength qualities. Having a good countermovement jump usually enables an athlete to accelerate well over 10m. In short, unless you have leg power you will not be able to develop an athlete’s speed potential

 

Often an opportunity that isn’t taken advantage of is in a return-to-play set. Medium to long-term injuries can be utilized to improve a player technically and athletically.

 

Removing counterproductive modalities – the disproportional use of cycling is one sure way of dulling speed development. Remove ‘junk’ running from all aspects of the program. In particular, jogging has no application as an endurance mode for any field game. Jogging reinforces poor running mechanics, and poor posture and tires athletes in between high-quality running efforts. Jogging should be seen in the same light as walking, in that, it should not be prescribed or coached. Faster, high-quality running training develops all the endurance required for all aspects of sub-maximum locomotion.

 

  1. What would you recommend as areas of focus for developing coaches hoping to improve their application of sprint running for pro sport?

Develop an understanding of how to TRAIN and TEACH speed. Training is below the shoulders and teaching is above the shoulders. Developing athletes are often told how ‘fast’, how ‘far’, and which ‘direction’, but not ‘how’ to run. Real coaching requires knowledge of running and the skill of seeing and teaching athletes how to execute technical elements of training.  The attention to detail and coaching skill required to develop sprint running at an elite level puts some coaches off, especially those coaching at the youth level. Consequently, mediocrity is routinely accepted with many young athletes adopting a poor running technique. These poor habits can be carried through their careers.

 

  1. What would you recommend as areas of focus for developing athletes?

I believe there are five primary areas of functional and technical capability that must be addressed in conjunction with the appropriate progression of athletic qualities. These five critical areas will be apparent in various degrees across ages, gender, sports, and individuals. Importantly, these five areas are not mutually exclusive and are very much interdependent.

  1. Running technique
  2. Strength training technique
  3. Flexibility
  4. Postural strength
  5. Force reduction ability

 

Other key growth and development considerations:

  • Develop key physical capabilities before puberty to minimize the loss of coordination during puberty. Place an emphasis on moving body weight at a young age to prepare for changes due to puberty and continue to reinforce this throughout puberty
  • Children grow up and then grow out; we must take into account the strength-to-length relationship. Get them strong before they grow long
  • Establish pristine movement patterns through full ranges of motion and through all planes from the youngest age groups on
  • Understand the difference between developmental age and chronological age

 

  1. What are common challenges performance practitioners can make in developing speed?

Under the training and not challenging athletes. As an example, I see so much programming of jumps and plyometrics for developed elite athletes that would be applicable to 14-year-old kids. Furthermore, athletes can often ‘sleepwalk’ through sessions, not being challenged. Research shows us that unless we have an error rate of 15-20% then we aren’t challenging our athletes. Unless we have ‘success or failure’ consequences built into our sessions then learning will be very limited.

 

  1. How do you measure speed development in team training?

The obvious one is GPS. I discuss this in detail at: https://www.hmmrmedia.com/2021/10/rethinking-speed-development-for-team-sports/

Coaching observation is a dying art. I do feel that current technology is ahead of coaches’ capability to apply it. However, hardware/software platforms are becoming a lot more accessible and easier to use. To measure speed properly we must isolate it as a quality. I have always assessed speed formally with timing gates and assessed specific leg strength qualities with jump mats and via the speed bound index. Ultimately a coaching eye, experience, and judgment are still required to interpret video/data 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 speed without the use of technology.

  1. What is the relationship between general running capacity and speed?

This relationship is very important. It is often not well understood and often overlooked. Some considerations:

  • It makes sense to profile players that are either ‘fit-not fast’ or ‘fast-not fit’. General running capacity is not a difficult quality to attain or maintain. Speed, however, takes longer due to the higher degree of motor skill involved. As such, ‘fit-not-fast’ players should have speed training and complimentary strength programs as their primary training direction, whereas ‘Fast-not fit’ players should continue to be allowed to run fast for maintenance.
  • Maximal aerobic speed (MAS) training does not have to be distance dependent. Field sport athletes do not have the ability to maintain good running form at a constant speed for any longer than 3-4 seconds. Therefore, setting long intermittent distances at 100m or greater develops and reinforces poor running mechanics, which in turn, develops poor running economy
  • Running drills were originally designed to specifically strengthen the muscles in postures and actions that are like those that occur during the sprint action. It is through strengthening in the specific positions that technique is improved. Running drills promote good posture, specific lumbopelvic strength, and functional flexibility drills. These drills can also be used very effectively as a local lumbopelvic conditioner and general conditioning modality

 

  1. What does a typical speed session look like?

Probably an oversight I see a lot of younger coaches is proper planning going into a session. By that I mean, clear objectives and consideration of appropriate methods. Good-detailed planning should take just as long as the session takes to coach – often twice as long. If coaching a larger group of players implicit methods are essential. Implicit coaching is infinitely more effective, but session preparation requires much more foresight. Implicit, or outcome methods are where the exercises and drills are the coaches. This increases effectiveness and task-intrinsic-based learning, which is more permanent and effective. Consideration in terms of the type of feedback is also important. Whether this is extrinsic, intrinsic, or a mix of both.

The structure and sequence of the session require thought. John Pryor’s motor racing analogy is brilliant and a great way for young coaches to conceptualize the planning of a session:

 

  • Where will you pump up the tyres? – a warm-up can be utilised for more than it implies. It takes about 10mins before an athlete is ready to undertake speed and leg power development. Therefore, this period can be utilised for specific mobility and functional development via specific drilling that develops calf and lumbopelvic integrity. If done well, there is a seamless blending of mobility and drilling that escalates to more dynamic movement. We all accept athletes can’t sprint in the part of the session, but they should be under challenge either
  • Where will you build the motor? Elastic and reactive leg strength developed through jumps and plyometrics not only underpins speed qualities, it is also a great way to prepare the nervous system for speed development. We must not forget too: if you want to get faster you must run fast. Having an appropriate and adequate speed of volume is essential but requires judgment
  • Where will they learn to drive the car? Running is a skill and drills don’t equate to skill. If you want to improve your running skill you must teach it directly whilst running. The primary benefit of running drills is to specifically strengthen athletes in postures and actions similar to those that occur during the sprint action
  • Where will they race the car? The best way to facilitate training intensity is competition. Matching players of similar ability to race against each other creates a great atmosphere and energy