Monday, January 15, 2018


All things being equal, the most skillful team will win.




In fact the most skillful teams do far less work then other teams due to less chasing and less extra running from chasing loose balls, cleaning up errors etc.

With a huge focus on fitness during th pre-season improving specific skill level often gets neglected and IT SHOULD NOT.

It should be far ahead of fitness in terms of focus.

Fitness can improved rather quickly with the correct program where skills is always a work in progress but because you can't "see" skill improvements like a time trial result, then we just let skill level stay where it is.

Players end up making the same mistakes year in and year out because at training they are set drills that don't address specific skill deficiencies and don't use enough skill variation in regards to distance, depth and accuracy of skills to dynamic and static targets.

There is also zero built in accountability where if you "get over and help" after a bad kick, it magically makes everything alright but on a Saturday that could mean winning and losing or even worse, a Grand Final win or loss.

At most levels training skill work usually looks like this:

#1 - Lane work straight up and down to stationary targets or with players running directly straight to you

#2 - All skill drills being performed at speeds that most players can't produce effective disposal under.

#3 - Limited to zero drills that involve chaos/decision making

#4 - Drills without instruction of how the ball should ideally get to the destination

Here's how to make these points more specific to game situations plus trains players to perform the type of skills they'll need in a game.

#1 - Vary up lane work with angled leads and different kicks (on the run and go back and kick)

#2 - Organise the drills to match the speed of play that allows the highest efficiency of disposal which you might make player specific for some or all of your players if needed. You might also need to adapt your playing style to the skill level of your players.

#3 - Give freedom to your players to make the ball carrier make different decisions in a split second as a lot of skill training drills are going forward at speed unimpeded, which is how we would love it to be, but unfortunately on a Saturday you'll have 37 other players in front of you which cuts off all of these "plays" that we train for before they even begin. But now our players are pigeonholed into doing what they did at training so they either get caught with the ball while they think of a plan B that isn't happening because the players up-field have also had their "training drill routes" cut off, or they just end up bombing the ball down the line which is the easiest ball to defend in footy.

#4 - Practice all types of kicks in your drills - stab kicks, kick to space, kick to advantage, long kicks, short kicks, kicks to all type of leads in regards to distance, speed and opposition pressure.

Below is a full ground, team based drill that touches on all of the above aspects at the same time.

This is just a sample and you can set this up in a million different ways but you essentially break the ground up into 3 parts (back, mid, forward) with position specific players in each section.

You would pre-organise a little "game map" to follow initially but use position specific kicks so players practice the same types of kicks they'll often do in a game.

How the players leads to the ball is up to you as well which you would probably like to match up to your game plan bit by bit as you progress closer to the practice games.

I would also strongly suggest that you literally tell your players to go at a moderate tempo at best as skill level, and target hitting efficiency is the focus of this drill, not how fast you can do it.

As your players get better hitting targets st moderate speeds can they stat training to hit them at high speeds.

Don't skip steps in the hope it will just magically come together because it won't.

You can also use this as aerobic capacity training by repeating the drill for 15 - 20mins at a time that "hides" running volume that bores players so much.

After 5 - 7mins switch the backs with the mids as the mids will often be performing the same kicks as backman when getting back to defend and help out - or at least some of them but maybe keep your permanent backman in the same section to perfect backline kicks.

After another 5 - 7mins you might then switch forwards and mids who interchange between those positions during a game to expose the players to midfield and forward specific kicks, again maybe leaving your permanent forwards in there the entire drill.

So kick 1 goes to group 2 to group 3 and so.

Player 1 goes to group 2 then group 3 but once the ball laves the backline section, they then go back to group 1 and off thy go again so just run all your balls through then reset.

If you have 10 balls and run through them all 50 times, each player should receive ample opportunities to get plenty of position specific touches in a short amount of time.

If possible keep track of how many targets each section hits and let the group know of the results after each 5 - 7min period.

B sure that I haven't ever used this drill so feel fee to give it a go and let me know how it runs.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


All we see and hear about from AFL strength and fitness circles is recovery, recovery, recovery.

I'm not against recovery when you're training load is ridiculously high like professional AFL players but at the local/amateur level we only train 3 - 4 hrs a week and whatever you do on your own.

Our training volume is generally that that high to what the body can withstand but I guess a little bit of relativity comes in here.

When you train you disrupt the body from a state called homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the your everyday go-along-with-your-business physical and mental state of mind.

You're not stressed but you're not relaxed - your chillaxed I suppose.

It is the point where your heart rate is steady, your muscles are fresh apart from some residual fatigue from previous training sessions and your mind is in a good place.

When you put the body under stress, physical or mental, those markers listed above shift depending on the intensity of the stress.

If you go for a nice easy 3km beach run, they will elevate to a moderate to high level but take a short time to get back to their normal levels.

If you do a sprint session then you'll elevate to high a high or even extremely high level but again as speed training is all about short sets with full rest, it will take more time for your central nervous system to get back to baseline then the other markers.

It should be noted that the CNS takes longer to recover then the muscles do after intense exercise.

If you perform a repeat session, essentially combining endurance and speed then your probably taking your levels as far away from your homeostasis level as possible.

How far you shift away from your baseline isn't the point of this post but how you get back there is.

Most players think ice bath after training but why?

Because the AFL do.

That's it.

Do you know how the ice works in recovery?

More importantly do you know how ice works in regards to adaptation?

If you did then you probably wouldn't do it.

Training causes a inflammation which includes muscle damage, hypoxic tissue etc - a lot of sports sciencey stuff that is beyond the scope of a FB post.

Don't get me wrong, ice DOES help greatly with inflammation and recovery, but during the pre-season you want YOUR OWN BODY to heal itself because this is how adaptation works.

It's a bit like teach a man to fish, eats for a lifetime life lesson.

"Artificial recovery" helps a lot to recover from the muscle damage which during the in-season is exactly what you want, but during the off-season when training is high and the goal is improvement, it stops right there and no adaptation, thus improvements (strength, speed, endurance), takes place.

You MIGHT use it between training sessions when on a schedule of Mon/Wed or Tue/Thu but that's it, and I wouldn't even do it then.

Actual studies have shown ZERO improvements in speed, strength and endurance when using ice baths over relative longer training periods, especially for "under-trained" players like most of us.

When you're already big, strong, fast and fit, then you've already made the adaptations and recovery on it's own is fine.

Ice is also not as beneficial as you think it is in game injuries either but that's another post for another day.

You want to use the #1 recovery mode?

Go to sleep.

Monday, January 8, 2018


We all trained pre-Xmas but attendance was sporadic among the playing group but it's early Jan and everyone is hopefully on board.

During pre-Xmas training the main focus is on base building with basic aerobic capacity training and speed development.

Moving forward we want to build on the improved aerobic capacity as well as to continue with speed development for the most part.

Here's what I set up for the few teams I'm doing pre-season training for:

Endurance Training

#1 - 6min Time Trial first session back for each player hopefully improving on thier pre-Xmas time.

#2 - Speed training makes a subtle shift to static standing starts for acceleration as well as flying sprints to train max velocity starting from the 2nd week in.

#3 - Week brings the introduction of anaerobic threshold running sets which will take the players aerobic capacity to another level. Th distances covered for these runs are taken from the 6min time trial with the entire team split into 3 - 4 groups for individualisation.

#4 - Lactate Retention is introduced mid to late Feb which is the "blow up" training portion which you SHOULD NOT have done, or am doing, right now.

There will be more 6min time trials after the anaerobic threshold running program then after the lactate retention phase.

Sprints will be predominately max velocity come late Jan but acceleration will always be trained in the warm up to max velocity anyway so we have both force and velocity spectrum's covered there.

Between now and your 1st practice game, which is when you should be entering pre-season training mode there's 15 or team training sessions - not many - and without a plan you don't stand much chance of hitting the ground running com practice games and round 1 so if you need some team or individual help, let me know.

Sunday, January 7, 2018


Our reserves captain is getting married in Feb, wiping most of Feb out in the process so we dedicated the holiday period to getting some aerobic work in, his biggest weakness and here's what we did.

We did a 6min time trial at footy training where he managed 868m @ 2.58 meters per second, not a great score but this is why we train - to improve.

Session 1 - Sprints over 5, 10 and 20m x 55m total + anaerobic threshold runs 9 x 51m @ 100% max aerobic speed every 20secs with 3mins rest between sets x 2 rounds.

Session 2 - 20mins of aerobic capacity doing an outside circuit consisting of medicine ball throws, low level sprint sprint mechanics drill, boxing, core exercises and change of direction tempo cone work. The 20mins was all continuous without stopping at a 5/10 rpe (rate perceived effort level).

Session 3 - Sprints over 5, 10 and 20m x 65m total + anaerobic threshold runs 9 x 51m @ 100% max aerobic speed every 20secs with 3mins rest between sets x 3 rounds.

Session 4 - 25mins of aerobic capacity doing an outside circuit consisting of medicine ball throws, low level sprint sprint mechanics drill, boxing, core exercises and change of direction tempo cone work. The 20mins was all continuous without stopping at a 5/10 rpe (rate perceived effort level).

Session 5 - Sprints over 5, 10 and 20m x 95m total + anaerobic threshold runs 9 x 51m @ 100% max aerobic speed every 20secs with 3mins rest between sets x 4 rounds.

Session 6 - 30mins of aerobic capacity doing an outside circuit consisting of medicine ball throws, low level sprint sprint mechanics drill, boxing, core exercises and change of direction tempo cone work. The 20mins was all continuous without stopping at a 5/10 rpe (rate perceived effort level).

Session 7 - Sprints over 5, 10 and 20m x 85m total + anaerobic threshold runs 9 x 51m @ 100% max aerobic speed every 20secs with 3mins rest between sets x 5 rounds.

Session 8 - 6min retest x 1157m @ 3.21 meters per second.

We did all of those sessions 1 per day all in a row then had a 3 day break.

Session #9 - Sprints over 5, 10, 20  and 30m x 135m total + anaerobic threshold runs 9 x 64m @ 100% max aerobic speed every 20secs with 3mins rest between sets x 2 rounds. We started an new round of these at the new time trial speed.


As you can see he blew his time trial to pieces going from 868m to 1157m - an increase of 289m. In meters per second lingo he travels an extra 63cms per second.

It must be said that the first round of this was performed at at self rated 5/10 for the 4 sessions and he was pleasantly surprised by the way better time trial score after such "easy" training.

Speed has also improved:

Block 5m x 1.33secs to 1.20secs
Standing 5m x  1.31secs to 1.25secs
Block 10m x 2.13secs to 1.99secs
Standing 10m x 2.21secs to 2.00secs
Standing 15m x 2.79secs to 2.64secs
Standing 20m x 3.41secs to 3.24secs

Pretty good speed results considering they weren't our main focus but it really goes to sow hoe true speed training can provide undeniable results if such a short time if performed correctly, even at pretty low volumes.

In the end great results were achieved in just 7 - 9 sessions in speed and endurance training at low to moderate intensities so why are you killing yourself every session again?

Train smart, not hard.