loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

More on Bernard Tomic and Fitness!

Bernard Tomic and Fitness

Interesting article in papers today pn Tomic and his training background. His old coach said he had been a State Rep in Cross Country running as a kid and also a very good Soccer player. He claimed he could have been good at many sports. Thus maybe he is not just a “tennis player” but a tall and talented athlete. Cross Country suggest a great aerobic base and Soccer points to skills, footwork and speed. Interesting when one reads that Federer and Nadal also were good soccer players.


NEIL GUINEY: Yeah very good, very good and could have been good at any sport in my view. He was quite a good soccer player. He was in the state team as a cross country runner. If he’d picked up any other sport and was well trained he’d be going really well at that too.  So yeah you need the product. So he was talented physically and eventually became a very good competitor and that’s what you see out there. He thrives on competition. He’s been a defender most of his life because he’s been playing tournaments a couple of years under his age group and it’s now that he’s starting to sort of grow sideways if we can call it like that. He’s starting to fill out.”

I think most people would have thought he was one dimensional and had a poor fitness base. Basically what he has needed is strength and power and this has come through maturity and also training. Read below and put the pieces together and one can understand his exploits this week. He has shown ability as a junior resulting in a Wimbledon title.


“Q. What would you say has improved the most in your game in the past months or year?

BERNARD TOMIC: I’m definitely physically much stronger and fitter. I remember last year when I played a first round, even against a qualifier, I wasn’t feeling too good in the second round, feeling tired.

But here when I played today, I was feeling fresh and energetic. Even today after the win, I feel good right now. That’s what I’m going to need against Nadal on Saturday.”

Q. Can you talk about the way you’re practicing, your workout? Did you do something special?

BERNARD TOMIC: I’ve been training up in Gold Coast. A lot more physical stuff, it’s paying off. Pushing my body to the limits. That’s what I need for me to be physically strong. I’ve got the right tennis to play tennis, I just need to get physically stronger. It’s sort of balancing out, so I can see it on court. Once you’re fitter, you’re mentally strong, everything is better on court.

June 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brian Cook deserves a lot of credit for Geelong Football Club

Brian Cook deserves a lot of credit for Geelong Football Club

I started at Geelong in 1998 and my decision to accept a position with Geelong and resign from Essendon was re-inforced by the fact I was informed that Geelong was a well resourced financial club. Well to my dismay by early 1999 the club was found to have a massive debt and the CEO and committee was overhauled and Brian Cook was appointed. What followed was tough to swallow for me. The clubs number 1 priority was to recover the debt. Bendigo Bank sponsored the club and reduced the debt and Frank Costa & co secured this move. But of course till 2004 this meant that funds dried up for me. I had the bare minimum for equipment and staff and Financial Security was prioritized above performance as NO 1 aim of club. Of course we had drafted from 1998 2002 the bulk of players that were developed through that era resulting in finals in 2004/2005 & flags in 2007/2009.

A summary of the history of Brian’s influence is in this article below:


Brian Cook drove all these steps and clearly outlined the process to staff often. Whilst it was a pain to be under resourced I could see the club was heading in the right direction. The facilities were still good and the ground and surrounding areas were great. Just not much money for staff & equipment. So simply I employed people on minimum wages in the fitness area and developed them. Jarrod Egan, Chris Dennis, Mark Spivey, Matt Hornsby, Luke Meehan etc.

Mark Spivey

I am not sure but think it was 2004 when Brian Cook had a meeting with all the staff and said that the priority had changed to team performance given the club had reduced the debt and stabilized finances. Immediately Brian released funds for a gym restructure for example.

But I think that Brian’s main influence was felt in late 2006 when he conducted a review of the club’s footy department. I was terminated in April 2006 but this review was started mid year after the club’s on field performances collapsed and there were other “problems” occurring.

Below is a link to the findings of the review that members received.


He identified the need to get quality staff in administration in the footy department and also the need to get cutting edge sports science and back up with medical staff. I was keen in 2005 to get an International standard Sports Medicine person into the club and in mid 2006 (after I was gone) Chris Bradshaw was recruited. This was a key appointment by Brian Cook.

Brian has a Sports Science background and in the review identified that the pre-season of 2005/2006 had been insufficient to hold up what should have been a tilt at a flag in 2006 after close calls in 04/05. The machinations behind this poor fitness preparation are described by a media release from my lawyers in 2006 in the link below. It was an insufficient fitness preparation in 2005/2006 pre-season for 2006 and Brian’s review was spot on and more so what was implemented with resources, admin and staff.


Also more importantly Brian Cook had the wisdom to realize the club had the right list which was at the right age and development. The players had been in 2 years of finals and were ready. So he stabilized the club, kept the list and added expertise from Neil Balme to the Sports Science area. He created clear lines of decision making with little interference and the rest was history. But I am sure he realized that after 2004& 2005 that the club was on target and didn’t need a cull of players. That was the number one call in my opinion. So many clubs have reacted savagely to a poor year by getting rid of players. Clubs like Freo have ripped their lists apart in the past,

It was reported in the media that there was angst between Cook and Thompson but I can only read and interpret the papers here. Brian Cook settled my termination case in March 2007 and I was happy and respected his input that day and the decision. Again good timing because it got a gremlin out of the system before the season started in 2007. This “angst” between Cook & Thompson is suggested below in an article in the Courier Mail. Obviously the events of 2010 had to be handled professionally by Cook and on field and off field success suggests this has happened.


I think that Brian has a unique mix where he has been CEO at a number of clubs but also has Sports Science qualifications and experience in the sports science area. Thus he understands athletes and training and this subtle mix allowed him to make quality judgements on what was needed to succeed on the field especially after the shemozzle of 2006.

So I think a lot of the credit (apart from the players, coaches & staff of course!) has to be directed at Brian Cook.

June 28, 2011 Posted by | AFL | Leave a comment

Bernard Tomic and Fitness levels?

It is interesting to note that Tomic has said he is a lot fitter in an article in January


The fact he has won Wimbledon Juniors demonstrates he always had the ability. Add his height and span. He seems very efficient with his movement and reads the ball well. Is he fast? Hard to work out. He cuts angles really well. But he is so young and probably has 10 to 20 % or more improvement left with strength and power through maturity and training.

Federer talks about the need for increased strength also when referring to Nadal.


Tomic has had a few fitness people with him but it is interesting he has basically done it by himself (with dad) and maybe he has avoided the mad rush of massive training loads some poor kids are subjected to. It seems he needed time to acknowledge the need for increased fitness and strength but maybe this is not a bad thing.  I have seen coaches send kids on 10km runs on roads and do endless low quality suicides on court with young players in Australia.

So I don’t know for sure but did Tomic actually avoid some of that bad junk volume crap training that one sees a lot?

Anyway at his height and with his ability. Phew! He is at the stage an AFL player has been at a club for  a year and they usually take 2 to 4 years to develop.

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What does Running Capability mean in the Australian Football League?

In a previous post I spoke about the confusion that exists when people talk about AFL players and their “engines” or “tanks” or aerobic capacity. James Hird has added to the discussion after Hawthorn beat Essendon.

“There’s no doubt Hawthorn outran us for the whole game and it’s been a bit of a trend over the last four weeks. There’s no doubt that our running capability isn’t like the teams we’ve played and that is a concern,” Hird said.

“Particularly in the second quarter they opened us up through the middle of the ground.”


Most people think aerobic capacity. Certainly still a factor but again more about recovering ATP whilst “resting”.

Now the press is saying Essendon is slow. Is that what they mean (or Hird) by running capacity. A repeated speed test was designed recently for the AFL. The medline reference is below. Way back to Brian Dawson’s repeated speed test ( 20 7 second sprints on 30 seconds) this has been measured. So are we talking about repeated speed?  I would assume this was worked on a lot at Essendon this pre season. Only an assumptiion but a few names in this link give a clue.


Has Paul Chapman got running capacity? Certainly explosive!  Joel Corey? Probably the perfect AFL model. Bit of everything.

So what is RUNNING CAPACITY in the AFL especially with 3 interchange and rotations.? Well when one examines Collingwood  and Hawthorn it is the ability to run  multiple efforts over varied distances for short periods. Get into space a number of times after in close ATP sapping efforts and create the ability to open up the game. The Press has confused the issue. At the end of the day you can only do so many 150’s or 300’s at 100% pace with 2 to 5 minutes rest.

Well again what is running capacity? Is it recruiting enough hybrid athletes that have some speed, some “tank” and can run efficiently. We have seen Decathletes recently be a little lighter so that they can maximize their running points. Geelong Football Club switch back to more traditional conditioning methods this year rather than Game Based & RSA training. Certainly I remember doing a running session with the Geelong boys at Eastern Beach where they did 3 sets of 3 220m up the hills there! They also did 4 sets of 5 50’s one year and also did sessions of 300/400/500/400/300 all split up over every year from 2001 to 2004 to develop the players as efficient players. They also did heaps of sprints. Etc Blah Blah.

So is RUNNING CAPACITY the ability to accelerate hard for approximately 10 to 30 metres and then have the ANAEROBIC capacity to allow this to happen and enough of a “tank” to allow recovery on the bench or when resting in the forward line.

Are repeated speed tests a little confusing? No I found they reflected what happened in a game OK. But more so are traditional training methods ( Interval work etc) more relevant in underpinning changes that create hard running efficient runners?

In the old days ( 90’s) anyone with a beeper test of less than 14 simply struggled t repeat speed, But also those with amazing aerobic levels had no speed to repeat.

Over to you new Essendon Fitness staff. But there is a clue somewhere here in this post!

June 26, 2011 Posted by | AFL, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Average Age Essendon Football Club RD 13

Average Age Essendon Football Club vs North Melbourne RD 13 2011

Pretty Young! On my calculations pprox 23.5. Hille/Lovett Murray etc were out but overall a young team. So in effect not ready. Maybe with Hille/Lovett Murray/Welsh/Williams etc they would be close to 25 average age. Still if you do this with other clubs that are on fire in September, one will find an average of 25. So dont panic EFC supporters. Take out Fletcher, which makes it a young team, and soon success should come.

Bellchambers, Tom 9/07/1989


Crameri, Stewart 10/08/1988


Fletcher, Dustin 7/05/1975


Hardingham, Kyle 1/09/1988


Heppell, Dyson 14/05/1992


Hibberd, Michael 3/01/1990


Hocking, Heath 27/12/1987


Hooker, Cale 13/10/1988


Howlett, Ben 21/10/1988


Hurley, Michael 1/06/1990


Jetta, Leroy 6/07/1988


Lonergan, Sam 26/03/1987


McVeigh, Mark 26/01/1981


Melksham, Jake 29/08/1991


Monfries, Angus 19/01/1987


Myers, David 30/06/1989


Pears, Tayte 24/03/1990


Prismall, Brent 14/07/1986


Ryder, Patrick 14/03/1988


Stanton, Brent 1/05/1986


Watson, Jobe 8/02/1985


Zaharakis, David 21/02/1990



June 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AFL fitness, Sports Science and Collingwood!

Has Collingwood got the most amazing sports science program or is AFL success cyclical? How did St Kilda nearly  win 22 games in a season? In the end lost a Grand Final by a bounce or two  each year! David Buttifant is an awesome sports scientist and fitness specialist. I studied with him and he played AFL and did Track and Field. Smart guy! Real smart and experienced and well resourced. Add the practical background of Michael Dugina and the backroom at PIES and you have a potent mix. Jake Niall wrote an article in the AGE ( June 19) on Collingwood, fitness,substitute rule and ages. An excerpt below:

Feathering the Magpie nest.                                                                                                                                                                                                 “Collingwood’s major advantage in a sub rule system lies in the fact that it has a higher fitness level than opponents, and it is able to maintain a higher intensity. To a degree, this is because it has an even spread of talent, but it’s also to do with the natural aerobic base of its players.

This is partly a matter of demographics. Very young teams struggle to run out games – watch the Gold Coast run out of petrol soon. Mature teams, provided they’re not too old, have the benefit of multiple pre-seasons.

Most of Collingwood’s core players – Scott Pendlebury, Dale Thomas, Dane Swan, Travis Cloke, Heath Shaw, Harry O’Brien, Nick Maxwell, Luke Ball – are in the prime 23-27 age bracket. The more physically vulnerable 28-and-overs – Alan Didak, Chris Tarrant, Ben Johnson, Leon Davis – aren’t as numerous and, in most cases, have good endurance. Youngsters Steele Sidebottom and Dayne Beams, too, have huge aerobic engines.”

Read more:


Interesting article. BUT!                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What is a huge aerobic engine? Does Jake mention Repeat Speed! Does Jake mention High Intensity Intermittent fitness? Ability to tolerate lactic? Leg Strength levels that carry players with grunt?

So what is the aerobic base required for AFL? We all know that too much aerobic training slows you down. How then does Swan come on for 6 minutes and explode? They key is a blend of aerobic ability and a unique blend of fitness qualities that allows a player to repeat speed. For example if a player has an aerobic capacity OR tank that is for example a MAXVO2 of 50 ml kg min then that player needs some intervention over a few pre seasons. But when a player has developed a reasonable aerobic base or tank ( for example 59 ml kg min) then the ability to repeat speed and tolerate high anaerobic levels is the key.

Does geelong now live high, train low without getting the initial adaptation of going to Arizona? That would still give you a few % per player that underpins the ability to recover from repeat efforts when resting. Proven.

Without having a clue I think there would be a few teams that would beat Collingwood as a squad in a TAN RUN. Confused? Remember the key is the ability to repeat efforts and speed. Keeping your aerobic capacity topped up will help that for sure. If Dustin Fletcher has to chase opponents all day he struggles to repeat his amazing speed because he is a gifted power athlete. IE His aerobic system is slower at churning out ATP because he hasnt got a “BIG TANK”.  But huge aerobic beasts Collingwood? Not sure. Maybe a bit of adaptation from Arizona & LIVE HIGH TRAIN LOW without slow twitch training. A few would be aerobic beasts I think like many teams. But also beasts under the squat rack.

Cameron Ling is an aerobic monster. You would have to camp on Mt Everest and do high knees for a month to achieve his levels. And he can repeat speed. But ,slow speed! Joel Corey is the perfect intermittent sport athlete. Good aerobic capacity, good speed etc. James Hird also was a potent mix. Not elite in any fitness physiological traits but a bit of everything. Good 10m, OK jump, good aerobic etc. But an aerobic beast? No. Maybe a decathlete who could run a 4 15 1500 and 11 sec 100m and throw a shot 14metres.

Tough area sports physiology. Remember. Repeating Speed. Repeating Effort. Could the Brisbane Lions out labour the Collingwood players on a worksite? More confused. Could Gold Coast outrun Collingwood in a 5km run at Surfers Paradise? Probably yes. Confused? Altitude, leg weights, repeat speed.  What a mix!

The average MAX VO2 for AFL teams does not alter a lot. The average age of teams is a constant.  Other physiological variables alter heaps with teams from preseason to inseason and different programs. And then, then there is RECOVERY. Now that is one thing the PIES do well.

Remember don’t believe everything you read! And go to a specialist if you have a specific medical problem and not a GP. Jake you are a great journo and a budding sports physiologist who needs some work experience to fine tune your understanding of AFL fitness needs.

June 19, 2011 Posted by | AFL, Uncategorized | 3 Comments