Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Off-Season Part 4 - Full Pre Xmas Block

I've touched on my off-season training a couple of months back here, here and here but I'll lay everything out in this 1 post right now so I'll be doubling up a little bit.

My number 1 goal is speed development.

Speed is driven by plenty of different mechanisms, of which I trained directly during this block, that I categorized as:

1 - Running Function/Form

2 - Max Strength

3 - Fast Twitch Muscle Fibre Repeated Speed Ability

4 - Isometric Exercises Specific to Sprinting

5 - Sprint Training


For this I focused on 4 aspects of speed:

  • Big Toe Mobility
  • Perfecting the Hip Lock Position
  • Optimising Ankle Rocker
  • Pure Stiffness of the Ankle/Foot Complex

After my activation drills, my warm up consisted of 1 exercise for each of the 4 sections and did 2, 3, then 4 circuits of this before swapping the exercises out and starting again.


The off-season is the best time to put on your gym work because you have more time and energy resources to put into training, with little competition from anywhere else, compared to footy season where games and training take priority.

As usual at this time of the year I follow the TriphasIc method from Cal Dietz where I did 5 sessions of each of these mini-blocks:

  • Eccentric focus @ 70 - 775
  • Isometric focus @ 77 - 85%
After those 10 sessions I moved to a power phase with accommodating resistance in the form of elastic bands for another 5 sessions @ 70 - 50% (a decrease in load each session).

After that my final phase was a peaking-velocity phase with timed sets @ 40 - 25% for another 5 sessions that took me to Xmas.

I did 1 exercise for lower body (Weck Deadlift) x 2/week and 4 for upper body(Seated Military Press, Weighted Chin Up, Bench Press, Chest Supported Row) exercises, again 2/week, on separate days.


99% of the time when someone trains repeated speed, they are actually training repeated sub-maximal speed but this method actually trains fast twitch muscle fibres specifically, another doozie from Cal Dietz.

It has 2 blocks:
  • Capacity
  • Hypertrophy
Capacity is your base/foundational work to prepare the fibres for more the hypertrophy block which is the more intensive/explosive work, to come.

Within the hypertrophy block, the lower body max strength exercise was performed within a circuit for the hypertrophy block.

I did 4 capacity sessions followed by 10 hypertrophy followed by another 4 capacity sessions taking me right up to Xmas again, doing them 2/week.

Isometric Exercises Specific to Sprinting

Alex Natera is the now brand new strength coach for the GWS Giants and these isometric exercises came from his work with track athletes.

There are 4 mini blocks for this part of the program:

  • Iso Hold
  • Iso Push
  • Iso Switch
  • Iso Catch
I did 5 sessions for each section as my assistance work for the lower body 2/week after the strength and fast fibre repeat speed work.


I matched my sprint training up with the strength phase I was in:
  • High Force/Low Velocity (Max Strength)
  • Moderate Force/Moderate Velocity (Power) 
  • Low Force/High Velocity (Speed)
So for sprinting I did this:
  • Sled Sprints @ 48 - 52% of Bodyweight 20m Speed Time
  • Sled Sprints@ 72 - 77% of Bodyweight 20m Speed Time
  • Bodyweight Sprints Introducing Velocity Specific Distances and Speeds
This week being the in between Xmas and new years week I'll retest my force-velocity profile and compare to my pre-Xmas training results and next week starts my post-Xmas phase where I'll b starting my endurance based training.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


The first 4 weeks are down for footy clubs around the nation and you've made some solid in-roads in preparation for season 2018 so now is not the time to drink and eat them all away, essentially making this training a waste of time when you need to start again in 3 or so weeks time.

Most players will have some time off so it's probably handy to provide them with some training to do in the down time from team training.

If you're going back in the second week of Jan then 6 sessions should be enough to maintain what players have built, and 8 - 9 homework sessions if going back in the 3rd week of Jan.

In order of priority I'd have players focus on the following:


I place the speed component right after the main warm up for my teams as we want it to be performed in a totally non-fatigued state. During pre-Xmas training I would have had them start from various prone (face down) positions with some more upright starting positions in the final week if time permitted. During this time I would mix prone and upright starting positions so players are ready for standing versions in Jan. If you haven't done any speed work at all then prone position only it is for you until Jan. I'd also move some distances out from 10 to 15m as well. I already have some times from pre Xmas training so I'd let them know that I will be timing sped once again in Jan and also that nothing deteriorates faster then speed if it's not trained weekly, so it WILL BE NOTICEABLE if they haven't done anything. 2 sessions a week for this is what we're after.


I already would have had players perform some max aerobic speed runs based off their time trials results so I would continue with the 4 session program I like completed during the pre-Xmas/Xmas break time. The runs aren't super hard by any stretch and only need to be done 1 - 2/week but they are ultra efficient and won't chew up too much holiday time. For players without a time trial, they should take this out and stick with linear and change of direction runs. Again let all players know that there will be a time trial once training starts back up and improvement is the minimum requirement.


I would have already performed both linear and change of direction runs during the pre-Xmas training phase and I would continue with them as they are exceptional to teach running mechanics efficiency and they can also serve as an active recovery session while also adding total volume to your training week with minimal impact on your joints. 1/week for this is enough but you could easily pop in another session no probs.


If you haven't done any training at all then this is where you should start. You're looking at 20 - 30mins of LOW intensity/LOW speed training at an effort level no higher then 6/10 on the old personal effort scale. If you can't talk normally during it then you're going too hard. Don't try and play catch up here and do an interval session - you'll only build fatigue - and you're gonna be behind anyway as you've done nothing to this point so you might as well be a a touch behind without injury or fatigue build up that will lead to an injury. Look at slow jogs on the beach or grass or a mix of bike rise and tempo runs (ride to grass, do tempo runs, ride back home).

Sunday, December 17, 2017


This will ruffle all sorts of feathers but here goes.

We've discussed speed and endurance a fair bit of late so piggy backing off that I want to give you a look at the high low system which was actually developed by sprint coach Charlie Francis.

It refers to splitting training days of high and low intensity training methods.

High intensity training methods include:

- Max Effort Sprinting @ 90% of your top speed
- Max Effort Lower Body Gym Lifts @ 80%+
- Intensive Plyometrics
- Max Effort Agility/Change of Direction
- Any Activity Performed with High Arousal (games)
- Power Endurance Work (for the most part)

Low Intensity training methods include:

- Aerobic Work @ 65% or less of your max aerobic speed
- Dynamic Warm Ups
- Recovery Circuits
- Extensive Plyometrics

High intensity activity is fueled by how strong your central nervous system is and how long it can be powerful for but it is crucial that you stress it just enough to get an adaptation to what you're doing, and then let it rest.

Once your nervous system gets fatigued then it's all down hill from there as sped will drop, strength will drop, reaction time will drop, skill level will drop, decision making will drop - it's gets quite messy but unlike metabolic stress from a hard running session, it takes longer to recover and if you train again before that recovery has taken place, then you're headed to a bad place.

This level of fatigue is hard for most local/amateur players to reach as we don't heavy, hard or long enough consistent enough to reach this point - plus you'll probably get sick prior to then forcing you to take a rest to get that recovery (there's no fooling the body).

Low intensity training methods don't even register to the central nervous system, it's like the puppy dog playing with the adult dog trying to bite it's leg off and the big dog not even waking up.

Why is this important and what about "the middle' you speak of I hear you say?

The middle is all where all submaximal activity is performed which is needed for footy no doubt but is overdone like your drinking on a footy trip.

There are 2 main issues with submaximal training:

1 - The speed of the activity is not fast enough to gain any speed benefits from


2 - The aerobic activity is too intensive to gain any aerobic benefits from

Do you see the problems here?

You're not getting faster and you're not getting fitter so what's happening?

Well a whole lot of fatigue in fact.

One of the coaches I'm doing pre-season fitness programming for sent me yesterday "so I know myself and the squad are normally expecting to get smashed with cardio" which is the thought process of every L/A associated player and coach in the world.

Hard running drills such as those expected from the comment above exist only in "the middle" so they aren't all they are cracked up to be.

Look at it this way.

You have a drill of 20 x 50m sprints every 30secs and without any other training under your belt you head out to do them and what benefits do you get?

Did you get any speed benefits? Not really because you aren't even fast yet plus the fatigue of 20 sets of sprints slowed your speed down so much the last 5 sets could no way be classed as sprints, but sub maximal sprints.

Did you get any aerobic benefits? Again no because you trained way above your anaerobic threshold and once you exceed it in training, you cease training to improve it and build it higher.

You've essentially gone for a drive in a car with no engine and the petrol light on.

What you've also done is built up a shitload of fatigue which might feel great and that you've done a whole heap of good training but when you look at it deeper it's no so grand.

The fatigue induced from those types of running sessions is the kind where you're still hurting from 2 nights ago and trying to train again but if you're still feeling it then you can't b fully recovered can you.

So if you're not fully recovered and you throw another bout of hard running into the mix what will happen?

Stress Overload.

Fatigue Overload.

Injury Overload.

And for what?

So when should I train in the middle I hear you say?

The middle isn't the bad twin you hide in the attic like the Simpsons did, but you do need to know when to bring it out for it to have it's greatest benefit.

Most, if not all skill drills are performed smack bang in the middle which accounts for all the middle action we need right up until 4 - 6 sessions before your first practice game.

Yep, you don't need to get hard running until late Feb depending on your practice match and training schedule.

And you only need 4 - 6 sessions with this type of training included in it before the benefits start to drop off.

Too slow for speed and too fast for aerobic - remember that saying before doing any drill is my tip.

Getting back to the high/low system, the trick is to schedule in high days alternated with low days.

The high days are the quality days with speed probably being the main thing to focus on here so we're looking at Mon/Wed/Fri for most of us right now.

The low days are essentially recovery based days that serve to assist recovery from the high day yesterday, but because everything is of low intensity you can still train with decent volume and gain some aerobic benefits. This extra volume adds up over a full pre-season too.

Here's what the week looks like:

Mon - High (team training)
Tue - Low
Wed - High (team training)
Thu - Low
Fri - High (tam training homework session)
Sat - Low
Sun - Off

By the schedule above you train 6/week which will result in a nice amount of volume per week - something that is needed to drive your fitness up to levels you've never been at before and a great mix of fast and slow activity.

The player above who's still sore from the Mon session will have a week that looks like this:

Mon - High (team training)
Tue - Off (too sore)
Wed - High (team training but still sore)
Thu - Off (2 lots of soreness lying on top of each other)
Fri - Off
Sat - High (was too sore to do anything during the week so now feels like they need to do another big session to make up for it)
Sun - Off (soreness again)
Mon - High (team training and repeat the cycle)

Schedule 1 allows for the greatest volume and quality of training by a long way.

As a player doing outside training, make sure you are doing no more then 3 high days per week but also organise your training and yourself enough to get some low work in on the off days to bump up training volume and assist with recovery.

As a coach don't start training in "the middle" in regards to specific running drills (skills drills is fine but back off when you think the players need to) until late Feb, then hit it every session x 4 - 6 sessions and you'll have done enough work to take into practice games where you'll do that type of work even more so there's no to overload it prior to then.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


This post will hopefully persuade you train speed in it;ls proper fashion, or risk losing a lot of games in 2018.

Last night I was able to make my team's training to run the fitness stuff and I was also able to video the sprints to time each player to get a baseline time to improve upon.

What this post will show is the small but very big differences various levels of speed are and how they can implicate a game to the point of winning or losing.

I'll continue to harp on this speed thing until every footy club in Australia is training it correctly.

Here's the full video of a 10m sprint over 10m from one of the groups last night:

Right  now we;re going to focus on Mark, the bloke furthermost away from the camera and my good mate and fellow Sydney Swan follower Klompy, who hopefully won't crack the shits over this, closest to the camera.

Mark is a new player to the club and I only met home last night but you can clearly see he has pretty good to excellent speed. He tested the best by far last night but we have 2 other outstanding speedsters that I can't wait to time who weren't there last night.

Klompy is a South Yarra vet who was part of the thirds premiership last year.

This first image shows the initial take off of Mark and Klompy which occurs pretty such at the same time. Marks head is lifting up and Klompy's left leg has just come off the ground as you can see:

Every time there is a loose ball to get, a lead to perform or a player to chase, you accelerate.

Every. Single.Time.

This shows the footy is essentially a game of repeated acceleration bouts mixed with some longer runs.

Surely underpins the importance of high speed acceleration and if it doesn't I don't know what to tell you.

Look what happens after Marks first 5m segment:

Mark is way ahead of the pack hitting the 5m mark in 1.22secs, well ahead of premiership hero Klompy.

Even in as little as5m or 1.22secs, Mark has put 1.5 - 2m on Klompy.

Premiership Medal wearing Klompy has reached the 5m mark in 1.65secs which isn't the worst time you'll fond by far, but Mark still holds a 1.5 - 2m lead over him which shows that if you can accelerate hard and fast immediately, you'll rarely get overtaken.

Mark crosses the 10m line in 1.93secs and Klompy may have fallen a little bit further behind between shots, but he has a medal and I don't.

He may have won a grand final but this is no grand final sprint and Klompy finishes the 10m in 2.38secs.

The tape looks like this:

5m Times - Mark 1.22secs / Klopmy 1.65secs

10m Times - Mark 1.93secs / Klompy 2.38secs

Second 5m Segment - Mark x .71secs / Klompy .73secs

With Klompy also equalling Mark's 5 - 10m time, this surely now shows you that the initial steps in your acceleration are the most important as that is where Mark had the advantage in this set.

With only a 1.5 - 2m or .43 of a second advantage, look at the extra time and space you can get on your opponent giving far more time to maintain high skill and/or make the correct decision .

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


As per the title this might be the best one of these posts yet.

The point of these posts isn't to say my way is the only and best way to go, they are rather thought provoking pieces to get you thinking about in many different ways about preparing your players, or yourself, for footy. 

From when footy started to right now, at his very moment, footy has always been about quantity.

As a coach if you want to see player improvement, or as a player you want to see personal improvement, then you must find the optimal way to do that.

Let's take this right back to when you were a toddler learning to walk - how did you work up to it?

You did bits and pieces of crawling, climbing and assisted walking all throughout the day, every day until 1 day it happens.

Here's what you didn't do:

1 - You didn't try to walk as fast as you can before you could even walk a single step


2 - You sure didn't walk until you couldn't walk anymore from fatigue.

But for some reason that's how we train for footy and

It sucks to do and provides sucky results (i.e none).

We're always looking for quantity - how many kicks did I get? How far did I run? How much game time did I get?

It should be how many kicks hit the target? How many high speed sprints were I able to perform? How many meters per minute did I cover in my game time?

There has never been as many stats in the AFL as there is right now and just as there is 5 stats that make you look good, there's another 10 that can make you look very ordinary.

As local/amateur we don't really need to worry about that but what it can highlight is efficiency which is paramount, especially at L/A level.

We don't have the time to put into pour preparation as sub-elite and higher teams do. We don't have the resources and we don't have the energy, especially once you throw family and work into the mix.

I think we're all aware of this because as teams we only train 2 times per week for most, if not all of the year. Over 9 months that's 72 training sessions of which 48 of those are during the season, where maintenance is the goal of training.

That leaves you with just 24 training sessions to do the following:

- Rehab last years wear and tear/injuries
- Train yourself up to b able to train (GPP)
- Train to improve
- Train to stabilise your new level of performance

That's 4 categories that on average can get 6 training sessions each - NO.WHERE.NEAR.ENOUGH.

So with that kind we try and streamline team footy training as we know we're pushing shit up hill so we do do silly things like run/sprint work.

A quick look at energy systems once again.

Alactic is your speed/power work where sets should last about 8secs or less with FULL REST that will improve your acceleration and max velocity sprinting speed.

Aerobic is long, slow and continuous (for the most part) that improves your recovery rate between bouts of sprints from alactic above.

What we train with run/sprint if lactic which builds up in about 20 - 30secs and then you're simply on borrowed time before you need to stop but at the same time your getting slower physically and mentally.

You're running slower and your making bad decisions with the ball.

You're of no use to the team to be honest unless you come off and recover.

The run/sprint is also what we call "getting stuck in the middle" which is the least efficient way to train for anything.

Th run is too fast to gain anything aerobically because once you start producing lactate, you've gone beyond using oxygen for energy as it can't get into your muscles fast enough and you're slowing down dramatically.

Because you're not recovering between sets of sprints as you're still running, you're not getting any speed benefits at all either because you're possibly not even running at high speed anyway.

I was talking to a teammate the other week who might read this and he said he'll do some run/sprint/run/sprint training and he's not alone in thinking like this believe me.

There will be plenty of you will read this entire post and won't change, I'm not sure why, but my crusade is to keep on delivering this message until you do.

OK back to quality.

Most teams train conditioning then work on skills but the best way to increase conditioning is through increasing skill specific and running technique as movement efficiency will increase and you won't expend as much energy performing these skills thus wasting less energy.

Not only can this can be the fastest way to improve conditioning but it can do so without extra training volume and the wear and tear that comes with it.

You want to train to increase max outputs (strength, speed, power) relative to the demands of the game so you work at a smaller % of your maximum during games, resulting in a more sustainable effort.

To show how this looks on game day we have player A who can run at 4.2 meters per second for 6mins and player B who can run at 4.8 meters per second for 6mins.

Let's move to the middle of the last quarter and both players have fatigued by 10%.

Player A could now run at 3.8m/s but player B can still maintain 4.3m/s.

Player b could go on trying to find the pill but he's running to slow to get to a contest and then he does find himself with the ball, he's not going fast enough to give himself enough time to make the correct decision as he has no breakaway speed to use resulting in skill errors.

Having higher maximum outputs means you'll have higher sub-maximal outputs - read that line 5 times if you need to.

Only once you have improved upon the quality of your movement do you then focus on game specific conditioning because it will only improve game specific conditioning, but only needs to be addresses 2 - 3 weeks out from your first practice game.

So step 1 is to rain to be able to reach speeds faster than a game through true speed training (increase maximal outputs) and then train at these new found speeds which again will be faster then game speeds.

This will make games truly sub-maximal which is what you want because skill level and decision making declines at high speeds.

Along with this train below the speed of a game with cardiac output work and technical (skill) work perform at slow speeds so technical efficiency and decision making remains high.

I just want to touch on tempo running quickly which I post about a fair bit but you still might not really know what it is and what it's for.

Every one can run but you only need to head down to the Tan (Melbourne reference) and see some of the mechanics on display to see that some people don't really know how to run, at least efficiently.

The point of tempo running is to be efficient with your time as it allows you to:

- Train the mechanics of good running as it's performed below game speeds (5 - 6/effort level at MOST!)
- Train aerobic capacity for high volumes
- Train aerobic capacity with less boredom then steady state running that everyone hates

So you've covered mechanics, volume and time all in 1 simple drill - that's efficiency and quality at it's best.

Monday, December 11, 2017


Step 1 - Head to this page which has a list of the specialty training programs available.

Step 2 - Decide what 3 programs you'd like to purchase.

Step 3 - Use this link to purchase and in the description, put what programs you'd like me to send you.

Easy as that.

Available from now until Xmas.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, or in this case failing to set the standard is failing to reach the standard.

We've all heard of or been in teams who might not have had the cash and resources as other local/amateur teams but still manages to bat far above it's weight from a string culture and team ethos.

The team that I've played the last 6 years for has been a nomad team of sorts, having been moved from ground to ground over it's 50 year existence, including a recess year in the 2000's.

These constant "rebuilds" have meant that we've pulled players from all over and although we're all pretty good mates with the current crop, without years in the trenches together, the culture of the club on and off the field isn't as strong as it could be in my opinion.

Setting the standard early and being hard on it can be THE ingredient that takes you a level above what you're team has ever done before.

Bringing us back to the player motivation continuum where at one end you have the players who play for fun or just to play with mates vs players who play for ultimate success at the other end, team culture and setting hard standards squeezes that continuum closer together, probably the biggest battle a L/A coach has it's it's hands.

As a team you want to unpredictable to the opposition yet predictable to your teammates so your style of play is proactive rather then reactive.

Building these types of things also requires more responsibility to handed to, as well as excepted by, the playing group.

Here's some 1%er type of things you can use to help with building team culture, setting team standards and becoming predictable to your teammates: 

THE 1 METER RULE - if you are within 1m of the ball then you MUST GO AND GET IT and your teammates will rely on you to do this and react accordingly. If you don't do this, and your teammates already react as though you will, then everyone is out of position on the rebound.

BASE YOUR TEAM ON WORK ETHIC - regardless of the talent you have, it can be unpredictable, and just like the Tigers did in the AFL this year, effort can be brought each and every week and give you a chance to win even when the talent is not firing

FOOTY JUMPER STAYS OFF THE GROUND - my brother worked for Richmond for for 5 years or so and I think this was one of their team rules to build respect for the jumper. Everyone raves about playing for the jumper but make it REAL to the players.

WIN THE BALL OR MAKE THE TACKLE - this is one of the biggies from the coaching ethos of Paul Roos. Similar to the 1m rule, you either win the ball or make the tackle. That's it. 2 options. The responsibility of the player involved here is paramount, they have to make 1 of these 2 things happen because that's what will be expected.

You could make a million of these but they need to be specific to your playing group and where they are as a team right now, then they van be built upon in the coming seasons.

As I've mentioned with fitness data, setting the standard and going back over it time and time again is what will drive this. If you do a time trial and don't give out any times, retest to beat them or make them "public", the players will not find any motivation to set these standards, reach them, drive them and go above them.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


When you run sprint, your knee lifts up and over then comes down to the ground which is where the magic happens.

Your ability to hit the ground on each and every contact in a forceful and powerful manner is the foundation of how you'll sprint, run or jog.

Elite sprinters train to perfect and each and every sequence in a 100m sprint in ridiculous detail because .1-2.secs can be the difference between a gold medal and a no place result.

They execute knee lift, foot/ankle stiffness, core stiffness, force transfer and a million other things but what they started with to be fast in the first place is the natural ability to develop great force upon ground contact.

When you hit the ground in a single leg stance, you can be putting 5 - 6 x your own bodyweight through that single leg every single step.

Your foot needs to be able to hit the ground and with limited deformity, absorb all that external force from each step and redistribute it back into the ground.

This all needs to be performed in as little .15 of a second.

FYI, running is about .2 of a sec, jogging is about .25of a sec and fast walking is about .6 of a sec.

As you can see, there's not a lot of time to get things done during walking, let alone at top speed.

If you can't develop this kind of force naturally, and if you're not very fast right now then you aren't (like most of us), then you can train to do this.

All this involves is a to get stronger.

Yep, that's it.

You simply need to get stronger at either a deadlift or squat movement.

If you've not done much weights work before, especially for the upper body, then this can increase quite dramatically if you follow a program designed specifically for it.

If you're not really into weights then don't sweat, I'm not against you simply working just 1 exercise and nothing else because this is all about improving performance so we can ultra specific no problems.

Local/amateur footy clubs would be extremely wise to set aside as little as $300 - 400 to purchase some weight plates and a bar of some description and set it up at the footy club.

Set aside 10 - 15mins pre and/or post training for your players to hit the exercise of choice for 3 - 5 sets where 2/week would be almost perfect here.

Actually make it part of team training and like everything else, track every players numbers so that improvement can be seen over time.

You don't need a mammoth 5 day training program for this, nor should you be using one for footy anyway.

Just 1 exercise  (my choice for practicality reasons is the Trap Bar Deadlift), 3 - 5 sets x 8 - 3 reps, 2 - 3mins rest between sets, all reps performed explosively.

In the end you'll be able to use more of the force you absorb from each step that like a pumped up footy, will bounce faster and further upon each step so you'll cover more ground per step = increased speed.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


I'm currently doing the pre-season training for some local/amateur teams and on of the things I'll be implementing is the grouping of players depending on their running ability.

Using a 1-fits-all approach means that out of 40 players you might get 3 - 5 of them who get trained optimally for any given running drill, with the others being under or over trained during that drill.

The "we all do it' mantra is great for team morale but not so great for fitness benefits. 

What I have done with the teams I'm training is to do a group time trial then divide them into groups based on their results.

I'm going to take myself as an example as someone who can't run long distances at pace which most people would think of as inadequate endurance.

What this shows more of though is my genetic make up (anaerobic vs aerobic) and that I am a product of the type of training I do (sprinting speed for the most part).

Between bouts of high intensity sprints I can recover better then average so my repeat speed is good even if my endurance running is not.

So if I was to run with the best runners at the club I would get smoked and potentially get slower in my sprinting.

Not a great result right there because now I don't have endurance or speed.

Here's what a good (GR)  vs bad runner (BR) 5 x 200m every 90secs drill might look like:

Set 1 - GR in 40secs + BR in 40secs...both have 50secs rest

Set 2 - GR in 42secs + BR in 45secs...GR has 48secs rest v BR 42

Set 3 - GR in 44secs + BR in 50secs...GR has 46secs rest vs BR 37

OK you can see where this going.

Even by set 3 you can see the huge differences in speed and fatigue from GR v BR and you can clearly see what happens if we both do the same drill even though we are totally different running levels.

After the initial time trial I then break down every players run into a meters per second score.

This can now be used to prescribe different interval types but with the drill specified to the player, or group of players.

If you want individual improvement in your players then everyone cannot simply do the same thing and you just hope for the best as I don't think has worked in any any situation ever.

Need me to organise the fitness aspect for your footy team? Let me know

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Some tams have already started but my own personal team and another team I'm doing the fitness work for is slated to kick off this week and here's what I have laid out for them.

The training aspects I have chosen to roll with this between now and Xmas are all things that I have touched on in my previous "pre-season" post series.

1 - Develop an efficient and effective warm up so it doesn't take 30mins with half it being next to useless for warming up for an extremely dynamic activity.

2 - Extensive Plyometrics to prepare the body for fast and efficient ground contacts when the high speed sprinting starts after Xmas.

3 - Speed work with an emphasis on short distance acceleration at this time to again to prepare for high speed sprinting and longer acceleration work post Xmas.

4 - Running test to set a baseline for all players for the to improve upon. There will be running homework to do that will be critical to improvement so whoever doesn't do the extra work won't get the improvement and the coach will know who they are from their results.

5 - Max Aerobic Speed will be used to set our running specific drills where I'll group players to make it easier for the coaches to st up and track. This sounds technical but I organise the groups, the distance and the times to run so the coach simply needs to run the drill and take the results.

6 - Tempo running is a low intensity training method where the player gets to work on running QUALITY over quantity as efficiency will increase endurance all on it;s own. There will be linear (straight line) and change of direction tempo running.

7 - Steady State running which is the real boring slow and long work which simply HAS to be done to increase your endurance - there's no getting around it.

I currently have 1/week and 2/week programs made up for teams RIGHT NOW as well as homework sessions depending on your team training frequency.

There are videos for all training drills and exercises too so there is minimal work for the coach to do.

If you want me to organise you team's fitness for the entire season, let me know as I can get you the program immediately.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Marginal gains is something I found Olympic athletes use to further improvement.

These athletes are literally in the top 1% of their sport so every teeny tiny bit of improvement counts.

In the 100m sprint, the times between first, second and third were 9.92, 9.94 and 9.95secs - if the third place getter was just .3 of  sec faster then he would have won.

In athlete terms this can be the difference between gaining enough sponsorship to be able to dedicate full time to training or only being able to dedicate to training.

Getting back to marginal gains, it refers to improving .5 - 1% in 5 - 10 different area's that all contribute in some way, shape or form, to your performance.

If everything goes well then you could have a 5 - 10% improvement in your performance 'markers' and surely some improvement to your actual performance.

The points that follows are probably all in the marginal gains bag as they aren't the biog rocks of footy training that we have been covering, but improvement in them will result in greater on-field success.

POINTS BOARD - keep data of who trains and then improves upon whatever data you decide to collect. Players might get 1 point for training, 3 points for an extra session (must provide proof) and 5 points for improving upon a time trial, skill or speed drill score. Put it all up on your special media so people see it because who doesn't want to be announced a winner in front of the world on Facebook?

BODY COMPOSITION - at local/amateur level body composition can have a huge impact on how you go. If you're a tad over wight then the stress going through your body might be more then it's ready to handle and what happens next - snap or tear. If you've got players who you believe have high potential but they're excess is holding them back in regards to endurance, speed, change of direction and/or injury then as a coach I wouldn't hesitate to have a 1-on-1 and ask them to try and drop a few kgs. Aim for 2 - 3kgs at first which can be done in 2 - 3 weeks easily - nothing major. If you're really serous about this then a simple weight in at various times of the year is pretty simple to do. Be sure that you have a solution in how to do this though - don't ask players to do something you can't tell them how to do (but I can wink, wink...)

ERADICATE FUMBLING - how many times would you have been away into an open goal if someone didn't just make a tiny fumble up field? Too many times to count in local/amateur footy that's for sure. On way around this is to purposefully train for it so instead of actually trying to hit someone on the chest with a kick, purposefully kick a mongrel, the type you see 100's of times in a game as you can't just roll up to a game and pick every ball up cleanly if you've been getting nice easy kicks on the chest at training all year. Get specific!

GROUP PLAYERS FOR FITNESS - with 60 - 80 players per team, a 1 size fits all training approach sense from a laziness point of view, but only a small 5 of your players will actually get trained optimally, making most drills close to useless for most players. By taking data such as time trial results for each player, then you can see your good, medium and bad runners and then you're able to group them up and train them to ACTUALLY IMPROVE. Let's say you're doing 5 x 200m with 60secs rest. Say the good runners finish each set in 35secs where the bad runners finish in 50secs. Now depending on where you start the rest period from, the good runners are getting MORE rest then the bad runners but this makes no sense for the bad runner who actually becomes an even worse runner because he done 1 decent 200m set (set #1) and the other 4 were pointless from a fatigue point of view. Getting back to the points board you might get 10 points for moving up a running group so it can also be used as a motivational tool. Grouping players is really a must when you think about it.

THE FIRST SESSION IS FIRST - You've got players who were there from night 1 but you get to Jan and then there's players just coming for their 1st night of pr-season so what should they do? The same first night as everyone else. Players need to know that if they start training late, then they'll be behind everyone else. For example where the initial players have already performed a decent amount of acceleration work prior to Xmas and are now ready for max velocity, this new batch of players will need to work through acceleration first. Same with aerobic capacity work - they'll need to do the long boring stuff before any more-intensive work as you need to build into these things, not go from the couch to 100.
OPPOSITE KICK/HANDBALL - a pet peeve of mine for 2 reasons. 1 - I'm a lefty and we are widely regarded as 1 sided but I kick on my right foot 10 x more often than right footers I play with or against so stick that and, 2 as a 5'6" full forward I cannot count the amount of times I had a 1-on-1 but in the time it takes my teammate to try and runaround a player to get a kick, or nit even get the kick away, is frustrating as hell. If they could have just chucked the ball on their opposite boot and tumbled the ball towards me, then we still have a decent chance of getting a result. If they spend 5secs trying to get onto their god side, or even worse get tackled while doing so, then we get nothing. Coaches expect players to be able to do this but rarely train it - lift!
PRE-SEASON MONDAY IS THE A SESSION - On the Monday your players should be at their freshest with coming off the weekend, only 1 day at work and 5 days since the last team training session. I would use this day for the most demanding training stuff you want them to do so the most physical and mental strength can go into them to facilitate greater learning and adaptation. You cannot learn when you're tired.

TRAIN POSITION SPECIFIC - at the local/amateur level we don't really swing our players from end to end too much like the AFL do these days and most players play the same position, or a similar set of positions every game which means they need a specific set of fitness. I'll post about this soon but look at the positions on the field, see how the players actually move in those positions during a game and train them accordingly. This also might mean you have a different battery of tests or performance indicators that these players require.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


I'm all about sprinting speed.

There is nothing more coveted in team sports than speed.

The easiest way to be fast is to be born fast but if you fail at that, and most of us do, then you still train to become faster.

All that being said I'll suggest that just 1% of local/amateur football teams are training speed which is ridiculous.

They may think they're training speed but I can tell you tight now, with the lack of rest periods, you are not.

Speed is broken down into 2 categories:

1 - Acceleration

2 - Max Velocity

Acceleration is the initial part of any sprint whether from a dead stop or a moving start and most of footy actions are exactly this.

Max Velocity is your top speed style which is achieved by most L/A footballers at the 15 - 20m mark of a sprint but can only be held for 1 - 2secs.

1 - 2ses doesn't sound like much but when Usain Bolt covers over 10 meters per second at top speed, then that's over 20m in that time frame.

Also think of it like this - say you can sprint at 10m/s and your opponent 8.5m/s.

Yes you are already faster then them but as fatigue sets in during games then your 80% will still be faster then them (8m/s v 6.8m/s).

If your the slower bloke then he cannot fatigue even one ounce to be faster then you, which will not happen during a game.

Also you'll never hit true top speed in a game either as you'll rarely run in a perfectly straight line, under zero fatigue but your sub-maximal speed is still better then anyone else and you'll 'slow down the slowest" over the course of a game.

The reasons speed doesn't get trained properly is simply because coaches don't how to train it.

It's as simple as that.

Any personal trainers or fitness coaches you get to run your pre-season still struggle with it.

But you know what?

Training speed is simple.

For acceleration you would use a variety of starting positions starting as close to the ground as you can and working up to a more upright position as you progress through the weeks.

Low to the ground acceleration positions requires more 'muscle" to get out of these positions and utilise slower ground contacts so they are easy on the body, especially at this time of the year.

The slower the contact time, the less stress on the nervous system.

I would start over 5 and 10m for 3 - 5 sets with FULL REST.

Instruct your players to literally dawdle back to the starting position as speed can only be enhanced in a conditions of non-fatigue.

I would also pop the speed training segment on the end of your warm up.

Use sprinting cues with your players such as 'push the ground away from you" to elicit the response we're after.

5 - 10m sprints at anything short of full pace will not be suffice here - they must move, or attempt to move as fast as they can.

Looking forward, there should be an acceleration component in each of your training sessions throughout the entire year and I would also send your players home with another session to do on their own if your team is only training 2 per week.

They are only performed for low volume so they need to be done a bit more frequently to attain the volume needed for adaptation.

 Max Velocity has 2 methods it can be trained with.

The first is extending acceleration sprint sets from 10 - 20m, to 30 to 40m which is the easiest way to implement them in a team setting.

The other but better way, in my opinion, is to use flying sprints.

Flying sprints are performed by using a fly zone of 5 - 20m that you use a build up run into.

The build up run is similar to acceleration sprints but you'd just jog into a stride and then stride into a sprint, hitting top speed just at the start of the fly zone.

Velocity sprinting uses far quicker ground contacts then acceleration which stresses the nervous system more than just about anything in the world ever, so the volume only needs to be low and the quality needs to be super high.

Again use FULL REST between sets.

I'd introduce velocity sprinting post Xmas but only to those players who have done at least 4 weeks of acceleration training leading up to it.

If players only roll up in Jan, then they will need to wait until at least Feb to do velocity sprinting.

Post Xmas you would cut some of the acceleration volume down to accommodate the velocity work which would also be added onto the end of your warm up.

The last bit of speed training, well all training really, is take data.

Have your players do the sprints in groups of 4 - 6 like you normally would and use your iPhone to record each sprint.

Make sure you have clear markers every 5m, measuring it all out so it's actually right.

When .001 of a second makes a difference, then attention to detail MATTERS.

I use a heel to toe walk to measure out my sprints.

My foot is a perfect 25cms long (or short but whatever) so 20 heel to toes = 5m.


Use clear markers at 5m intervals so you can split times which can show specific strengths and weakness players have, which means you can individualise their training a little bit.

Once you've videos them, then send them to me over Facebook messenger and I'll time each player, if you've set it up right.

We'd repeat this on the first session of the week each week and gather the data to see improvements in your players speed.

I'm not super quick but I challenge your players to beat my sprint times, the times of a 39 year old!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


In a previous post we looked at player motivation in local/amateur footy and it looks something like this:

What we're left with is a continuum of player motivation:

Play for Fun          +          Play for Individual Success

                   Play for Team Success

Play with Mates          +          Mental/Physical Outlet

So we have social reasons on the left and competitive reasons on the right so the aim should be to squeeze the left and right sides closer to the middle so "most" players at your L/A club are pushing towards team success.

What we're left with is a lot possible reasons of why players play with some of them not totally geared towards what "the club" would want them to be geared towards.

For me, personally I play to win a premiership, which I have yet to achieve as yet (and time's running out!).

This is what the higher ups at footy clubs would be after as well but as you filter through the playing ranks you will come across some of the other motivational factors as to why they play.

What's a footy club to do?

My take on this is to actually get the data on it from your players.

At one of their first pre-season sessions, regardless of when it is, get them to wrote down their 3 main goals they want to achieve out of footy this season coming.

Now you can start to group players based on their answers and maybe train/mentor them a little differently.

Coaches should try and have a quick sit down with each player so that they both have an idea of the what the goals really are, the steps involved in how the goals are gong to be reached and also what is to happen next.


These are the one's we want because now you should be able to get buy-in from all of them with everything they do.

They should be team first, team second and team third and push to uphold the high levels of training and preparation required to win the big one.

Extra training shouldn't be a problem in this case should it?

A lot might say they want to win a premiership but then are they prepared to do what needs to be done to actually do it?

That's what you've got to find out.


These players can swing both ways a bit.

On 1 hand they know that they will probably always be a "better player' in a good side so that should mean that team success should be right up there.

On the other side they are often more driven then the other players and will become frustrated when they don't see the effort being put forward that they are giving.

A bit of leeway might be required here from both coach and player but as long as communication is maintained on what the expectations are and there is consistency of the message being communicated, this can work and actually pay off.

In the end someone has to actually the trophies at the end of the year so you must have an excellent year to have actually done.


I think positive reinforcement can be the major factor here.

You've got a player who wasn't playing anywhere but came down with a mate one night and stuck around.

Low expectations initially is what's needed here but as soon as you see something in them, put it in the box and without making too big of a deal of it, put that player in a position to be able to display that skill or trait.

Once they do this on a consistent basis and you've got yourself a diamond in the rough of sorts, then it's time to sit them down and let them know they are required to do what they do best, but within the team structure.

At this point you might also point out some game scenario's where their 'thing" works and where it doesn't.

This will get them into the team first group while also letting them know that they are a valuable piece of the team and without them doing what we need them to do, our chances of winning decrease.

Be wary of pushing these players too far though as their they're not at the top of the committed tree which is again where communication is key.

Once the goal setting has been completed with goals, steps to achieve them and what the outcome looks like, then I would put them up in the change rooms.

This will enable all players to see what each player wants to achieve and can build a nice little piece of internal conflict that all great tams have where honesty is king.

Let's say you've got a half back flanker in the reserves who wants to play 15 senior games next season?

Do you think that will make the current half back flankers work a bit harder knowing that someone one is chasing their spot?

It can also be effective in setting the correct training standards as poor training habits displayed by this same reserves player will not result in them improving enough to reach a senior grade level.

The standard has been set with the goal setting and now the player has to reach it.

Don't make the putting it up in the change rooms compulsory but hopefully that also sets a new standard to that player when other player asks them why isn't there's up there?

At the local/amateur level where there is often just 2 coaches for near on 60 players, player responsibility is a must or too many of them get away with too much and all of a sudden your team is full of players with an assortment of bad habits which leads to inconsistency of play.

Also be sure to revisit with each player throughout the season as well.

Monday, November 27, 2017


I'm sure you've all heard of energy systems before in relation to fitness and as like to understand things to assist me in implementing them rather then doing things for the sake if it, here's all you need to know about energy systems for footy.

So we start with the the 2 main energy systems:
- Anaerobic Energy System - Aerobic Energy System

Anaerobic means "without oxygen" (short bursts of intense activity) and aerobic means 'with oxygen' (longer and less intensive bursts of activity) in regards to energy output.

Anaerobic can be broken up further into: - Alactic - Lactic

Alactic refers to "without lactate" (no fatigue build up) and lactic means means "with lactate" (fatigue build up) in regards to energy output.

Got It? OK let's move on...

So now we have: - Alactic - Lactic - Aerobic

Next you can break each down again: - Alactic Power and Capacity - Lactic Power and Capacity - Aerobic Power and Capacity

Power refers to a single all out, 100% effort where capacity refers to the ability to replicate that all out effort repeatedly at, or as close as possible, to your 1 off effort.

Still with me I hope...moving on.

Each of these 6 fitness qualities have a parameters in how they are best trained:

Alactic Power - up to 5secs of activity, full rest of 3 - 5mins

Alactic Capacity - up to 5secs of activity, incomplete rest

Lactic Power - 10 to 30secs of activity, full rest of 4 - 10mins

Lactic Capacity - 10 to 30secs of activity, incomplete rest

Aerobic Power - 2mins or longer of activity, full rest with a work:rest ratio of 1:3 - 5 depending on how "naturally" aerobic you are

Aerobic Capacity - 2mins or longer of activity, incomplete rest or continuous activity

As a general rule you should train the power component before capacity because you can't build repeat efforts of something you don't already have.

Off-Season Energy Systems Training (Sep/Oct/Nov)

This refers to the time between you're last game and the 1st night of pre-season training so we're looking at about 8 weeks.

Goal 1 - Alactic PowerGoal 2 - Aerobic Capacity

Alactic power is the top of the pyramid in regards to energy systems for team sports. The fastest players are generally the best players and is what can set an AFL player apart from an elite VFL footballer. All things being equal, the fastest bloke will get drafted every time and some blokes get drafted purely on speed, in the hope they can be coached to an elite level in regards to skills/decision making etc.

Speed is nervous system based so it takes the longest to develop so it needs to be trained now to give you more time to drive it up plus it also works best when there is minimal interference from other high intensity activity.

Start with short sprints to build acceleration over 5 - 10m, gradually increasing the distance and volume.

Speed work is all about QUALITY so have a round about number of sets you want to complete but if quality (speed and/or technique) starts to deteriorate before then, then end the session.

Aerobic capacity is what you probably already do by going for a few 10km runs per week which is fine, but you need to make sure that you're staying within a heart rate zone that will build actual capacity and not build up fatigue for 2 reasons.

Reason 1 is that speed cannot, and will not, be increased in the presence of fatigue. Reason 2 is that it's October and you can't be breaking down the body 11 months from finals time or you'll find yourself in a hole you won't be able to get out recovery wise.

You'll start at the low end of the duration scale and a heart rate of 130 - 150 beats or at a 4 - 6/10 effort level which is a lot slower then you'll want to be going but it's the right speed to go at.Starting at the low end of either and progress to the top end over a number of weeks.

Pre-Season Energy Systems Training (Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb/Mar)

This refers to the start of team pre season, and we'll split this into 2 portions of pre and post Christmas.

Pre-Christmas Goal 1 - Alactic PowerPre-Christmas Goal 2 - Aerobic Capacity

These goals remain the same but the training will be different. Again these 2 energy system qualities take the longest to gain so it stands to reason they get the longest training time.

Alactic power will shift to near maximal intensity and slightly longer distances then you ended with in the off-season phase. Just remember that actual max speed can only be held for 1 - 2secs max so use set distances that are too long for actual speed development, erring on the shorter side if anything.

Christmas Break Energy Systems Training

This refers to the time between your last pre-Christmas team training session and you're 1st post Christmas team training session. We're looking at 3 - 4 weeks here which is plenty of time to slack off and lose a lot of your benefits from your previous training. Your goal here is to at least maintain where you are and with a few extra days off you might actually find yourself faster during this time from extra recovery.

Post-Christmas Energy Systems Training

Work back from your 1st practice game to the start of post-Christmas pre-season training to see how many weeks and sessions you'll have between now and then which will determine how long each goal will be the main focus for.

Post-Christmas Goal 1 - Lactic PowerPost-Christmas Goal 2 - Increasing Your Anaerobic Threshold

After finishing up alactic power and aerobic capacity development, we'll now move to a few more goals.

Lactic power can now be brought to the party along with something specific to increasing your anaerobic threshold which is increasing your time to fatigue.

All the while we are maintaining alactic power with low volume, high intensity training as you can maintain it with as little as 30 - 50% of the volume you used to build it, so long as intensity is maximal.

Aerobic development will also be maintained through skill drills which can be set up to fit true aerobic training conditions as described above to be ultra efficient.

Again remember when you're training the power side of anything you need full rest between sets so plan some easy skill drills between these sets.


You know the hard running stuff you usually do before xmas and in the early stages of post xmas training?

Yeah, don't do it.

Really - don't.

The cliff notes of all this is that you need to speed to win all the races of a football game and then you need a finely tunes aerobic system to be able to recover between these races and race again at a high level.

That's it.

But don't you get tired during a game of footy so therefore we should train to get tired and then train some more while tired?

Sure but that's because you've trained incorrectly from the very start.

You'v gotten tired because your aerobic system sucks and you you're slowing down and losing those races because you never bothered to train speed so you know where that leaves you?

With slow players.

Slow players who are now tired.

Slow players that are now even slower.

My suggestion is to only implement alactic and lactic capacity (your hard running, blow up and spew work) 2 - 3 weeks before your first practice game and no earlier.

You can't build high capacity if you have low power so ensure that power is trained, and improved upon before capacity. If you're not fast for 1 set then how can be fast for 5 or 10 sets?

You can't.

Put everything else on maintenance in this training period but don't fully neglect anything either.

Plan the bulk of your energy systems work prior to your 1st practice match as those early games will build more fatigue then any other games you play for the year, as the body gets accustomed to the intensity of change of directions and contact/bumps.

You'll also struggle to implement your game plan effectively if you're still slugging it out on the track twice a week and going into practice games, played to achieve game conditioning, already half knackered.

This WILL result in early injuries guaranteed.

During the practice game period, training should enter the in-season phase with the be focus for training being on a high quality with "some" training volume for those that need it, that will decrease from week to week until round 1.

This all sounds very technical so how about I just do it for you? I have 1 team about to start my programming next week so if you want it I probably have room for about 10 teams (men's or women's) all up I can do this for so let me know ASAP so I can prepare everything in advance.