loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

Apology from Geelong Advertiser to Loris Bertolacci

Apology to Loris Bertolacci

June 23rd, 2009

TODAY the Geelong Advertiser extends a formal apology to Loris Bertolacci for three articles published on March 23 and 31 and June 6, 2007.

The articles published in the newspaper and on our website attacked Mr Bertolacci’s fitness coaching competence. The Geelong Advertiser unreservedly withdraws those imputations and also acknowledges that Mr Bertolacci has acted with utmost integrity in his dealings with us.

The Geelong Advertiser accepts the articles damaged Mr Bertolacci’s reputation and regrets that.

The Geelong Advertiser apologises for the hurt and embarrassment to Mr Bertolacci, his family and friends.

June 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Specificity of Resistance Belts or Bungee Cords for tennis?

Recently I bought a bungee cord/resistance belt whatever you want to call it. Then browsing through some websites and articles I added a few “specific” exercises to the routines of some tennis players. Gee wihiz looks like you know what you are doing when the belt comes out. But how relevant?

On an ITF site there is a video of some player running out under resistance with a racquet then doing a split step and then lunging into a shot. This to me is about as relevant as jumping off a massive bungee cord and maybe that is more relevant given it is so scary and thus trains the fight or flight response as against a slow resistance exercise.

When one explodes into a shot a player might take 2 or 3 100% steps, then decelerate and then get into position for a shot. So why do this under resistance when all the motor patterns will be different. Have to be. Probably a little bit of core work involved and maybe some dynamic balance! But I am sure one can do better work in formal core and balance work anyway.

Yes we do outsmart ourselves in Strength and Conditioning these days and sometimes it is done so as to look good. As I said it looks pretty professional but how specific?

In the end it is probably just better to lunge, and side lunge and get low. That is critical. Maybe catching medicine balls at 100% pace is good exercise but again a very different exercise relative to running into a shot or trying to “dig” a ball out in Volleyball.

Hey I am just thinking out aloud so invite comments.

June 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Chaos” training in Soccer and small sided games. Developmental needs of young athletes.

There is a lot of confusion now in the fitness industry on how to manage kids. We now have this explosion of advice telling our young players to play games, games and more games. This mantra has evolved from Skill Acquisition dogma where random variable skills learning was seen to be more efficient than massed practice. So play games and create “chaos” and easy “peasy”. We are now told of all these amazing benefits from endurance to decision making. Then we have the research on reactive agility which is very ‘sexy” and again has underpinned advice that games, games and more games is the way to go. There is an up side to this of course because it may stop over zealous youth coaches from running kids into the ground instead of focussing on the game.

I will target this article on young athletes close to puberty and/or at or past puberty. Young kids do need to play a lot but even there they would have maximum variety in their development. Another story. But I have recently dealt with one 7 year old who simply was not enjoying sport. By working one on one with him and doing simple fitness. Co ordination and general strength and fitness activities he has improved so much that he now wants to participate and is quite good. Also another 10 year old last year had terrible balance and little co ordination or confidence and again after  a year of work with basic activities he has started to improve to the point where he can cut it with other kids. If he had simply played more and more games he would have been left behind and simply given up. In theory it all sounds easy but sports scientists out there, it aint that simple.

The more games young tennis kids in OZ have played the worse out tennis has gone. We have a massive coaching structure in tennis of private coaches and yet very few kids can sprint, jump, change direction and co ordinate their feet. And then all of a sudden at 15 or 16 they have to get this together even though they can hit.

Soccer is going down the funnel way. Get heaps of kids doing soccer and playing small games and then pick and choose on his way through. Guess what. Sure the skilled kids will come through but the quicker, fitter more nimble ones will rise to the top (if they can play). Sounds good to me. Bit like the simplistic TAC AFL system. Choose kids at 15 and really that’s it. They get coached and the rest go back to “dumbsville”. That creates a pool of kids to push into the AFL system.

In soccer super leagues are evolving at under 13 and under 14 and pretty much starting the funnel. I am involved in heaps of these systems. If a player is not good enough then he or she doesn’t come though the system. And that “good enough” is relevant to how they play. And fitter, faster kids will always bubble through (who can play). So if we do very little specific running and change of direction work (added to S&C) with kids simply genetics will be the factor.

It is such a lazy theory and in fact someone recently said you can only get a 3% improvement with players in speed so why work on it. Are we starting to go crazy! That 3% is the difference between under 20 top sprinters and worlds’ best. So this percentage has been used to validate only playing small games with kids. I have seen young athletes dramatically improve speed at all ages. Due to strength, power, range, technique, feel. Whatever.

Sure we will have players come though and the “men in suits” will be happy. And we all know chaos training and random variable training is important. But just as players who cannot kick are at a distinct disadvantage in AFL so are kids who cannot run. And one has to train the basics also.

I am sure that if an under 14 soccer player who is on the fringe of a representative side goes off and does quality strength and conditioning and speed and power work and then goes back to trial he or she will go lots closer to selection. And what I am talking about is always improving the individual. Not a funnel system

Guess what. In tennis the realization has come about that OZ players can’t move, Cant sprint. Can’t change direction. Maybe some cannot anticipate. And so on. But neglect the basics of footwork and the needs of movements and good luck.

So let’s take a deep breath. On average the top 100 tennis players are quicker than the 400 to 500. Serie A players are quicker than Serie C players. AFL players accelerate more than local players.

And can you make a slow person beat Usain Bolt. Of course not. But you can make that person a lot faster and a lot sharper with movement.

On the other hand one good take home form all this emphasis on games is that it will stop “crazy” coaches running kids into the ground with fitness and endurance activities and spend more time learning and puffing.

All a bit confusing but we need to teach kids so many skills and provide them with as broad an arsenal of movements and training to equip them for the future and maximize their individual development.

June 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is the media accountable in the AFL?

I listened with interest to SEN radio on Sunday May 31.  The discussion started on the Ben Cousin’s affair, but ended up a debate on how accountable the media is now with reporting of the facts. This of course on the back of the Terry Wallace affair and other recent stories.

One major problem that exists now is that media needs stories and there are heaps of AFL media people and really not much with substance to write about. Hey we all have to eat, so I understand the desperation for stories.

But from my perspective I have been privy to many articles that  in my opinion were not factual about my circumstances, especially after I settled my termination case with Geeling in good faith with Brian Cook and was satisfied with the outcome. Also I wanted to enjoy watching the exploits of players I had worked with for 7 years and was involved with in 5 finals  in 2004 & 2005. Once I had settled I simply had moved on, but these articles  written in the media and launched onto the worldwide net were dissapointing and I am in the process of doing something about it .

How does one keep the media accountable?

The problem with litigation  is of course the cost and time until  resolved. Media outlets are well organized to battle these challenges and simply try and squeeze the common person with time and obvious resources. That is fair enough given they are a business. Legal costs can be astronomical. An individual versus a mega business is always tough. It is stressful and really as worthwhile as it is not worthwhile. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t but gut feel it is the only way to ram the message home.

If one goes and bleats in the media then one can simply get shot down. The “WINNERS ARE GRINNERS” philospohy means people will nearly always side with power and success and not the facts. Success must equal good! If a club is financial and well resourced and has good players and coaches then success seems to follow. Culture? Weird term!

It is so easy to say something now on a website or on the media but so many people are very lazy and do very little research and care not for the havoc they can cause with their slack work. Funny thing is I think that if people get off their backsides and do proper research they can get the facts right.

Once these stories became “fish and chip paper” but now often they appear on the internet for the world to read. That has changed the landscape even more and requires even more accountability.

Opinions are ok and anyone can have any opinion but the facts are different.

But of course the public simply often use sport  as a carthasis for normal life, so these “subjective” articles are great to read over a quick coffee. That’s the reality.

June 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Richmond Coach? AFL Coaches. Young? Old? Average Age?

How silly is the debate about AFL coaches and age right now.

AFL is such an insular sport and simply there are only 16 jobs available right now. Even in Gridiron there are more jobs and then good jobs at Universities in the US. Soccer and Rugby Union are worldwide so there is a huge pool. And in all sports simply the best coach gets the job with individual athletes and/or teams.

I saw the development of full time AFL. And in 2006/2007 I assisted the Western Bulldogs with a consultancy on their ACL injury plight and speed and power programs. I pointed them in the direction of where the game was going, repeat speed and repeat power and specificity. I provided an insight into how far behind the club had been in overall development from physical preparation to staff needs and so on. Not so much that their coaching or fitness had been poor, but how poorly resourced they had been given they had done an amazing job with little.

All of the current crop of young AFL coaches played AFL footy full time. They experienced this 9 to 5 job. I had been involved in track and field here and overseas so was privy to sports science and full time training. But when I went to Essendon in 1988 I got the shock of my life when players were turning up in overalls at 5.30. This continued till 1993 when Essendon dabbled in F/T footy. And even in the UK soccer had fallen behind Europe in the 90’s given the ‘OLD” coaches were clinging to the old days. But hey Hiddink is old and he knows what is needed in elite sport? Confused! Think about the wealth of jobs and the width and breadth of the soccer industry and so one is simply a coach.

But till 2000 many of the “old” coaches still wanted to train at 4.30 and Mark Thompson used Denis Pagan’s timetable in 2000 despite the reality  we should train full time and that AFL was a 9 to 5 job now. But Kangas won a flag so 4.30 must be the right time eh?

So many of the “old” coaches from the VFL had to be dragged kicking and shouting into modern AFL or more correctly, Elite Sport.

I organized an expedition to the AIS in 1997 at Essendon and it took a lot of push to get people to go and Peter Jackson really had to make it happen. We listened to all the AIS people for a week and then went back and re-organized the processes at Essendon. Essendon led the charge then.

The one constant in life is change! So it is not about being 37 or 48 or 58 but whether one realizes that things always change and evolve. My opinion was that many formt he old VFL struggled to grab the concept that AFL was full time and elite and not like the good old days. But soon the old VFL people will simply be a thing of the past.

So what has happened is that some coaches have evolved well with full time AFL maybe such as Malthouse given they have grown with it. I am not privy to Collingwood, so have zero idea of how far he has evolved, or does he now and then hanker for the good old days? Others I think, tried to hang on to the old way of coaching and didn’t embrace the business nature of day to day operations. In the now famous Brian Cook review even Mark Thompson was viewed as having too much on his plate. I was gone in April 2006 so only read the review. HA!

But in time many 37 year olds will be 49 in the AFL and will have amazing sports science experience and elite coaching expertise. So in 2019 do we simply recruit 35 year old coaches because it is AFL and that is what you do. Duuuhhhh…In then end Voss has walked into a fully organized mega structure and also many of the players of the ‘ADCOCK” & RISCHITELLI age have had quite a few pre seasons. So maybe he has walked in when a core of players have started to mature mixed in with some good old players. If he had gotten the job 3 years ago with heaps of 1st year players how would he be viewed now? Clarkson just snuck in with finals. Just in time! Thompson was in finals in 2000 and then a Prelim and Semi in 04/05. Despite the media about it taking 8 years to win a flag, this was a quick turnaround. If GFC had finished 13th and 14th in 04/05 I doubt he would be there or I would have been headhunted for jobs in 2004 and 2005!

I think this is a very simplistic and poorly researched argument that is being put forward about youth and the AFL and coaching. ALF is only a National Sport. Why are these journo so closed in their thinking and only use the AFL as a rationale for their articles. AFL is an elite sport in OZ, not the world. There are 800 odd players. Not too many are elite! If it was so easy heaps of UK teams would employ young UK coaches. They tried a few times and agghhh!

I always looked outside the AFL for changes required. IE In elite sport. Soccer/Rugby/Hockey and so on.  Obviously we have taken “years” to copy soccer with tactics. Geez Zoning! New? That is why I often went to the AIS and world soccer to look at what they were doing! In the end we don’t produce heaps of athletes as it is and our first gold medal since 1968 was won by Hooker.

So in this argument about who to employ as coaches simply look at sport in the world and then the needs of AFL . AFL is not a unique sport. It is sport with unique needs. It isn’t rocket science.

And examine the evolution of the AFL and also why young coaches came flooding through. They were simply working full time in the AFL since the late 90’s  and basically players who were just retired were employed. Old 60’s and 70’s players rarely got assistant jobs. But now heaps of 45 year olds can be sophisticated IT gurus!

Sad that some “GUN” 45 year old coach may not get a job. Someone has to win a flag every year so if they are all “young” then a young coach will win. In the end the AFL is a manipulated sport where squads spit players out and lots of underprepared kids play, given the system in place with “kiddie” programs.

Average age of AFL players in Grand Finals is 25.6

Average age of elite coaches in the world?????? Who knows? Who cares!!!!

If I can get a 21 year old to coach me to win the Veterans 50-55 100m title I will listen as I will listen to an 80 year old.

I always have to remember that the AFL media, in general, does not go past the obvious.


June 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment