loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

INSEASON MODEL FOR HAMSTRING INJURY PREVENTION IN THE AFL MAY BE VERY DIFFERENT TO PRESEASON MODEL

Hamstring Injury Rates are not going down. Recurrence rates are, but Hamstring Injury remains a frustration. I wanted to explore the INSEASON period as a time when most injuries occur and a block which is totally different to pre-season due to the fight or flight response and recovery needs after games. The research meets practice pretty well in preseason. But inseason, the search for predictive models needs to be approached with caution because of the chaos that AFL brings.

Recent research on fascicle length inseason is fascinating and could lead one to a conclusion that we should smash the Nordics all year round.

“Fascicle lengths of BFlh vary across the in-season period in elite AFL players and the extent of these alterations appears to be influenced somewhat by HSI history. However, independent of injury history, there was a gradual decay in fascicle length as the season progresses.” 1

What I haven’t been able to find is whether the timing of new hamstring injuries occurs timed with “gradual decay in fascicle length”? My gut feel is not quite. I struggle with the definitions of High Speed Running and Accelerations with GPS because it makes intuitive sense to me that hamstring injuries occur at 100% intensity. From a load perspective and fatigue this research is invaluable, but we do know that hamstring injuries occur at close to or at 100% intensity. I have used GPS data extensively, but it almost does not cut it when looking at huge eccentric forces that occur at terminal swing range of lower leg.

So with GPS data tread very carefully! This table from Sherry shows at 95% maximum speed seems 80% eccentric force needed! From 95% to 100% increases 20%. Almost a fight or flight response.

sherry

So I am going to assume that there is no spike in hamstring statistics at the end of the year. I might be wrong. Don’t have the data.

Jesse Owens in the mid 30’s jumped > 8m in long jump so produced force and ran what is thought the be equivalent to 10 flat now all things considered. And let’s assume no conditioning but just adapted to maximal speed. AFL players would dream of being as good an athlete as Owens bar one or two maybe. So we always need to understand the neuromuscular basis of adaptation and not just structural. He ran often at 100% and adapted and there was no formal conditioning. In reverse my bet is this can never happen. Yet most of the discussion is what happens in conditioning. The gym.

ownes

In professional Soccer in Europe hamstring injuries are on the rise as Ekstrands study shows.

Conclusions Training-related hamstring injury rates have increased substantially since 2001 but match-related injury rates have remained stable. The challenge is for clubs to reduce training-related hamstring injury rates without impairing match performance” 2

In the AFL the issue is more in games. So in Soccer in Europe very tough to get that eccentric loading in a week when multiple matches are played and they have a short pre-season. Whilst studies are showing that teams are not using Nordics have more injury, I really think this research would have to be examined closely to how often teams play and just recovery. But it has to be taken into account despite historical rise in injury rate and one would think greater adherence to injury prevention methods would work. Maybe!

Periodization in the AFL fits a pretty stable model. The research with Eccentric Hamstring Strength is a given in my opinion.

“Low levels of eccentric hamstring strength increased the risk of future HSI. Interaction effects suggest that the additional risk of future HSI associated with advancing age or previous injury was mitigated by higher levels of eccentric hamstring strength.” 3

So there is no doubt that this needs to be addressed pre-season. And then enough sprinting must be included preseason to enhance immunity from injury.

A neat study on Gaelic Football adds to need for maximal velocity running in the prep phase.

“High chronic training loads and exposure to bouts of maximal velocity running reduce injury risk in elite Gaelic football” 4

And then the “little rocks” need to be addressed. 1. Biomechanics and 2. Lumbo Pelvic issues with 2 neat studies demonstrating these vital “little rocks”.

rock1.jpg

rock2

Most clubs will advise players who had a full load the season before to have a break and then ramp up training prior to pre-season starting in November or December depending on whether they played finals or are allowed more weeks off due to their years in the system. Most clubs also will assume that healthy players have done a build-up of training prior to the formal pre-season so usually they are expected to be ready for high speed (maybe not sprinting) from day one.

AFL Periodization Table I made up referring specifically to Hamstring Injury protocols.

table

When I started AFL in the late 80s a few people made me some glute ham machines! I had used them in Europe in 70’s and also read Dr Yessis review.

yerddssss

So I don’t want to get into a discussion on what type of exercises we would use and when should we progress from concentric to eccentric to maximal eccentric but this search for the Holy Grail probably started in the Greek Olympics!

In the 2000 to 2007 period in AFL it was pretty basic with me. Nordic lowers, RDL’s, Glute thrusts, pilates scooter exercise, 2 up/1down leg curls, back extensions 2 and 1 leg , high bench step-ups, swiss ball curls, isometric bridges and many other variations. Focus was high level eccentric exercises in prexmas block. Sprinting was increased from short accelerations at high speed to maximal velocity by Xmas so we had a big “minestrone” of eccentric stress. DOMS was loved (except by skills coaches) and we tried to take players to the edge but not over to get that immunity going! All this worked and from 2001 to 2006 we had half the hamstring injury rate to AFL averages. That is RAW HARD DATA!  One year tells you nothing but raw hard data of 3 years of more says you are doing something right. But we also made sure lumbo pelvic issues were addressed and biomechanical issues addressed.

I would prefer a player has a high chronic load of maximal speed and low to medium high speed running than low load of maximal speed running because that player will in my opinion be more prone to injury. And a factor called the SPEED RESERVE needs to be mentioned. If players have run at high intensity in pre-season they may never need that in season so the concept of a SPEED RESERVE may overtake the need to whack into eccentrics in season. Go faster, accelerate faster than you will in season and survive preseason and you may have a Speed Reserve which may translate to architecture?

But in general if you adhere to Gabbetts research on loads and get into the players from all angles eccentrically not a bad recipe pre-season.

Come January in the AFL brings a unique problem. This is where research and periodization and psychology don’t quite interact. After the Xmas break all the players and coaches get new boots for Xmas! They know the season is close. Grounds are fast. So every factor needs to be taken into account individually, given skills loads and intensities increase, gym (performance weights) intensity often still increase, and simply the athlete is better prepared so goes a bit faster!

The next phase in February is tricky. And this then falls into the laps of the coaches, high performance department and medical staff to make the right decisions or just have a philosophy. Given Intra club games commence and micro-trauma increases and fight of flight kicks in. How much you push the window in this phase is so individual. Chronic loads may still be elevated but are you still dosing eccentrically at same loads and volume? There is a massive distinction between maximal sprinting and high speed running.

INSEASON

Statistics for Hamstring Injury are not dropping but recurrence is which simply suggests better rehabilitation and return to play protocols. And most injuries are in a game. Recent data is looking at weekly spikes in high speed running as a predictor to injury. The main decision from staff is when did INSEASON start?  Then the next question is IF a player has had a full preseason, have they worked maximally in speed in games. Then do you continue to dose eccentric exercises or do you rely more on the protective mechanism of running at maximal intensity weekly? Again with GPS this is tough. Because players may be > 24km/hr and accelerations of >3 but may never reach maximal speed. GPS data is great for LOAD feedback but not maximal eccentric load feedback.

Let’s examine players who are playing regularly and who are deemed to be reaching maximal speeds in a game on a weekly basis. Should a lower intensity posterior chain program be incorporated? Will there by a massive drop in season on the nordbord or on an isokinetic eccentric test or a flywheel test? Evidence suggests architectural changes occur in season. Can you reliably test players maximally in season though? In my opinion a lot of players will hold back if they feel anything in season. Plus the logistics are massive because in season they take 48 to 72 hours to recover before a max eccentric test can be done. I assume these studies are happening but from an historical perspective some of the fitness tests in season I did were a waste of time.

So there is some “panacea” PRESEASON with the big rocks being a progressive speed program and eccentric hamstring strength program in place that pushes the window and elicits adaptation and maybe a SPEED RESERVE,  PRE-SEASON is the BIG BABY or ROCK with eccentric adaptation and then tick other boxes.

But INSEASON the word multifactorial takes on another meaning. One of my friends in the AFL said the secret is that all staff and players are on the same page. Everyone knows what is happening to a player, their load, treatment and management. Thus information is passed on ASAP after games and with everyone on the same page from Sports Scientists to Welfare Officer to Coach a decision can be made how to dose a player on the ground and in the gym. This leads to a “somewhat” broad brush of administering eccentric dose preseason to very individualized approach in season.

INSEASON the shift should be subtle in my opinion but a half-baked Nordic after a Skills session on a Wednesday night is in my opinion maybe a waste of time. And if a player has kicked a lot that session plus not recovered from the game then a valuable exercise could become another stress which the player can’t recover from before the next game. And this is tough to predict and is part science, part management, part art.

So apart from dosing eccentric when needed of course (players who missed games/game time) loaded players may benefit from a slight shift in exercise protocol in season for hamstring strength. Exercises such as back extensions 1 and 2 legs, eccentric leg curls, swiss ball curls preferably unilateral, hip extension exercises and so on. Some form of performance weights need to be maintained but this is different. For example a trap bar deadlift with low reps. Dynamic warm-ups become critical.

It actually becomes tougher in season and means a lot of work has to be done by STAFF looking at any factor that could assist in preventing hamstring injury from load management to eccentric

dosage to ‘small rocks”. By “small rocks” I mean things like glute activation or range of motion or wellness or anything!

I think there will never be a load ratio or strength test that can accurately predict an injury. Bahr has shown screening cannot predict injury. 5. So in terms of hamstrings just throw a hamstring program at them preseason and track players who have been injured all year round. Despite some people saying they have found some predictive screening protocol I will stick my neck out and say they will always have their hands burnt with a hamstring injury in season when they least expect it.

So in season is more multifactorial management of players. I came up with a little table that reflected how one might approach hamstring injury prevention in AFL and stuck my neck out and put some % in without data, just used ART!

SCIENCE: Ticking BIG ROCKS of Hamstring Strength and Speed Dosage and ticking little rocks with areas such as Biomechanics and Lumbo Pelvic issues

ART: Well you always have to make a decision and would be nice if GPS data or a NORDBORD test removed the grey areas!

MANAGEMENT: Preseason the priority is that players are eccentrically dosed and exposed to maximal sprinting and so player cannot be mollycoddled BUT caveat is enough management to avoid actual injury!

table 2

REFERENCES

  1. IN-SEASON ARCHITECTURAL ADAPTATIONS OF THE BICEPS FEMORIS LONG HEAD IN ELITE AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALLERS. Ryan Timmins, Matthew Bourne, Morgan Williams and David Opar. Br J Sports Med 2017 51: 395
  2. Hamstring injuries have increased by 4% annually in men’s professional football, since 2001: a 13-year longitudinal analysis of the UEFA Elite Club injury study            Br J Sports Med. 2016 Jun; 50(12):731-7.
  3. Opar, David A., Williams, Morgan, Timmins, Ryan, Hickey, Jack, Duhig,Steven, & Shield, Anthony (2014) Eccentric hamstring strength and hamstring injury risk in Australian footballers. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46.
  4. J Sci Med Sport. 2017 Mar;20(3):250-254. High chronic training loads and exposure to bouts of maximal velocity running reduce injury risk in elite Gaelic football. Malone S1, Roe M2, Doran DA3, Gabbett TJ4, Collins K2.
  5. Why screening tests to predict injury do not work and probably never will. a critical review. Bahr R.Br J Sports Med 2016; 5, 776-780

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October 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Western Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy says clubs should not rule out older players at national draft

Bob Murphy from the Western Bulldogs recently wrote an article about the AFL Drafting system which basically targets 18 year olds. I was a fitness adviser for 20 years so saw first hand how long it took players to mature but also since 2007 have worked with young players 12yo onwards to draft age . Basically just kids!

Western Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy says clubs should not rule out older players at national draft

I have picked some relevant comments from this article:

“Of the top 50 selections in last year’s national draft, just three were aged 20 or over, while 49 of the first 50 picks in 2015 were teenagers.”

“A player must be 18 on or before April 30 the year following the national draft to be eligible for selection. Before 2009, the age was 17.”

“If they don’t get picked up at 17 then they are done,” Murphy said.”

“I’m not a massive American sports head, but I think their college system is a good way to go,” Murphy told foxfooty.com.au.

“Guys don’t reach professionalism until they are 21. I reckon that would be ideal for footballers.”

I presented in 2002 that at a Conference that the AFL Draft system was not elite and too young.

Optimal Age for Elite Sport

The AFL will vigorously defend their system but they do not have to compare themselves to anything else in the world unlike sports like Soccer , Volleyball & Basketball etc  IE a bubble.

The process starts at 15 really where players are funnelled at Under 16 level then again at Under 18. So miss the first cut and it is tough! Why parents should invest in personal trainers at 14 years of age which is a bit early but probably necessary to get an edge.

The evidence is compelling that it takes many years to develop an AFL player and really many players are missed and lost  in sub elite competitions.

I also am of the opinion that many young players at 16 only dream of being drafted and put their careers & VCE as a second priority but very few get drafted.

The AFL Draft system is organized and that is what people in the system like.

But it is not a best practice system when viewed from a long term athlete development perspective.

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time to start measuring LOAD in Tennis

Tennis is a massive industry. We all get seduced by these earnings outlined in FORBES for 2015.   Business of Tennis FORBES magazine

tennis-richest-players

The coaching industry is also massive and at the top of the tree are these academies all around the world which simply are big $ all round. Players arrive and train non stop and there is no doubting the quality of some but there in starts some issues with loads and ongoing awareness of what is required to reach the holy grail in tennis.

The best Tennis Academies World Wide

tennis-academies

What do Tennis Coaches earn in OZ?

And then the basic coaching business worldwide is massive with tennis coaches operating out of clubs and creating squads. Add the fitness component to what many parents pay and added medical and equipment costs and one can see why there are not too many 1990 Hyundais is suburban tennis car parks at squad training.

Then there is the stark reality that few players ever “make it” on the senior tour and less make any $. A very odd sport when the 800th AFL player can do quite well whilst the 300th tennis player eats no brand food daily .

% of players earning $ on PRO TOUR!

Given the massive $ input from parents, they often become very involved stakeholders in driving the young player and planning and training. Coaches obviously know who pays them so the end result is simply a mess and crazy loads and commitment.

Subjectively I have found a certain machismo about tennis coaches who preach mental toughness and hard driving training but I struggle to understand the premise of their philosophies.

So where I am heading? Well when young players engage in AFL or Soccer for example there is some regularity with training and competition. Tennis is quite the opposite. Cynically it is worth the coaches telling players to train more because at an average of $60 a session that is good business. Then with tournaments at every level LOADS are all over the place because one can lose on Day 1 and do nothing or play 3 games a day for a week.

Recent research talks about a sweet sport of training. Also recent research does lead to fact that training has to be consistent and quite hard. But with tennis no one has any idea of what the sweet spot is. And the fallout is massive from injury perspective and also psychological. We all hear about the parent who drove their child from birth to success but do not hear about all the failures in every city of the world off the back of millions of $ invested in coaching and development ( or lack of).

Tennis Load Management and Injuries . British Journal Sports Medicine

So with the advent of wearables that measure everything, video analysis, using perceived exertion rate, wellness input and many other objective systems one can track LOADS and hopefully find a sweet spot for individuals. Some elite players have been well managed and some have snuck thorugh poor management and massive loads due to luck and more so often good genetics. ( Made of steel!). My gut is many in the tennis industry may not want to track loads because it may cost them income.

Tennis needs a lot more research to understanding how much training is required, how much skill development, time on court and so on. It is a closed shop at the elite level.

Reality is we have been led to believe that tennis is different! Always hear the same story from every sport. But there is a sweet spot of training and leaving school at 14 and doing nothing but training all day may not be the best solution.

More to come on this topic

September 25, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rookie Draft AFL & GPS of Sub Elite players

I was reading an article by Michelangelo Rucci about the possibility of the Rookie Draft and his logic why it would not work and also that it had not worked 20 years ago and then was wondering if the AFL would allow Recruiters to access GPS data from Sub Elite competitions like the WAFL and SANFL to assist in their mid season Rookie Draft?

Rookie Draft AFL

Interesting quote in article was:

“We’ve learned a lot about players that have not had a big pre-season,” Worsfold said, in yet another of his rather impressive post-match press conferences that contrast his image as the “say-little” coach when he was at West Coast.They are massively prone to injury. We’ve had five, six go down with hamstring injuries. Again and again for more than a decade, AFL players have said – to the point it has become a cliche – that the elite game will “get you” without a solid pre-season.That summer training regimen becomes the foundation to survive in an increasingly physically demanding football code.”

And straight away I thought of the current research in the chronic/acute ratio now all the rage in loading dogma and utilizing GPS & RPE metrics mainly.

So I am going to be lazy and use an analogy from this blog site :http://www.smartstride.com.au/

Goldilocks-principle-NEW

Quoting from this website off current research

“We need to push ourselves a bit and do more than what our bodies have been used to in order to get a training benefit – it’s how our muscles get stronger, and it’s how our fitness and running performance improves1, 2. However, if we do too much, as we’ve all probably experienced at some point – our chances of breaking down and getting injured increase1, 2.

But….if we do too little, not only does our fitness drop off and our performance suffers, ironically our risk of injury also increases1, 2.

So, with our training load, it’s exactly like Goldilocks – we don’t want to do too much, but we don’t want to do too little, either – we want to find an amount that’s somewhere in the middle; that ‘just right’ amount that will help with fitness & performance, and minimise our chances of injury.

So then Rucci says that the players drafted at the Bombers after the WADA Ban had not done pre season and thus were prone to injury. First of all this was a risk the club took versus getting players training with the WAFL & VFL for example ( understand the need to bring role models in).

But then he says that players coming from leagues below AFL will be just as injury prone. There is a little bit of logic in this because usually GPS data shows slightly less Sprinting in leagues like the VFL, WAFL, NEAFL etc.

But the gap has narrowed so much and a fit 22 to 25  year old who has done all the preseason in the WAFL for example plus played every game plus has no injury history in my opinion would not have too high a SPIKE in High Intensity load if they were drafted into the AFL midseason. There is a gap in High Intensity workload but not Volume thus  I really think fit players with no injury history and an adequate full load would quickly ADAPT at a soft tissue level versus a 29 year old with no preseason and an injury history.

Some pretty good references below on the current understanding of how much load and when. Bottom line is if a player SPIKES a load inseason off a low preseason load there is a massive risk. The same Inseason Weekly load (ACUTE LOAD)  for a player who had a high average weekly preseason load (CHRONIC LOAD) will lead to a lower Ratio when Chronic load is divided by Acute load and thus less probability of injury.

So then will recruiters be able to access preseason and in-season training loads (GPS/ RPE) of 2nd tier leagues when deciding who they will draft mid season.

They should if they can!

 

REFERENCE:
  1. Blanch & Gabbett, (2015). Has the athlete trained enough to return to play safely? The acute:chronic workload ratio permits clinicians to quantify a player’s risk of subsequent injury. British Journal of Sports Medicine, published online ahead of print.
  2. Gabbett, (2016). The training-injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter & harder? British Journal of Sports Medicine, published online ahead of print.
  3. Heiderscheit, et al. (2010). Hamstring strain injuries: recommendations for diagnosis, rehabilitation, and injury prevention. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 40(2), 67-81.
  4. Opar, et al. (2012). Hamstring strain injuries – factors that lead to injury & re-injury. Sports Medicine, 42(3), 209-226.

 

 

 

July 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Using Video Analysis before Musculoskeletal Screening in Healthy Athletes

Due to financial restraints ( consumer) I have tried to develop a much quicker method of screening athletes. I do have to emphasize that re “healthy” athletes I mean an athlete that can run, jump, twist or turn at 95% and above with no pain.

In the Age of video analysis with APPS being available this is pretty easy to do.

And without going into an in depth analysis of the FMS screening protocol or any protocol I fail to see how apart from very basic screening tests, how one can be very specific in screening individual athletes.

By very basic I mean for example a dorsiflexion test. But again maybe a basic bodyweight squat will lead to that test anyway.

So what I propose is that when clients do not have hundreds of dollars to spend on screening and you have to wrap up a fitness test with screening , that they simply are asked ” What injuries have you had in past and recently” & “are you sore anywhere”.

Then despite the COOL SPORTS SCIENCE advice that fitness testing is passe I actually think it is the ultimate screening tool ( plus game related footage).

So with a junior soccer player doing a Max test over 20m, a change of direction test, a jump test, a YO YO test then a basic squat and 1 leg squat and getting some video will lead to lots of information and maybe some specific investigative screening .

Loaded with this information from watching the athlete and also looking at frame by frame video then one can decide ( added to past injury history) what screening to do. ROM? More power? Specific core needs? Refer on to medical advice?

Otherwise why not do 3 zillion tests. Crazy.

And the results can be very informative also because athletes may be biomechanically OK but poor power profile or vice versa.

So let the kids rip and then see what happens at max intensity then analyze!

WORDPRESS

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Certificate 3 & 4 in Fitness courses start Advanced Athletes Performance first week February

Certificate 3 & 4 in Fitness courses will start running at Advanced Athletes Performance in the first week of February. This is a great way to get a job in the Fitness, Personal Training or Strength & Conditioning industries.

All staff are qualified in exercise science and work in the fitness and strength & conditioning fields. The course will be hands on and will utilise all the facilities at AAP. Sport Specific, Boxing, Strongman, Boot Camp, Weightlifting, Rehab and Pilates training will be covered, plus much more.

Discounts will apply for AAP Family! Classes are filling fast.

Contact Pete (Fitness Course Coordinator) on 0432 663 280 or info@fit2b.com.au, send us a Private Message via Facebook or visit the Fit2B website (www.fit2b.com.au).

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sports Science: Advanced Athletes Performance & Werribee VFL.

Congratulations to Werribee Football Club on reaching the Preliminary Final Again. Advanced Athletes Performance has assisted the club with Sports Science back up this year. Fitness testing pre and post Xmas and then GPS monitoring of senior and reserves games. Liam Annett from AAP has attended all the games and provided feedback to the coaching staff on rotations and general GPS data. Also indebted to major sponsor MEB Foods  and also STAMBO’S GROUP OF COMPANIES http://www.stambos.com/. This sponsorship allowed us to use GPSports technology this year and we will expand our Sports Science service in 2013/2104. We have tested and assisted a number of AFL and Soccer teams this year and provided University Graduates with valuable experience in Sports Science also.

mebfoods is AAP major sponsor 2102/2103 Sports Science Program

September 9, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Elite ATP/WTA Tennis players getting older. But don’t point finger at PED use!

Recently there has been press on fact that the average age of the TOP 100 men’s and women’s ATP/WTA rankings have risen to 27+ for mens and 25+ for women. This article below outlined the changes.

TENNIS PLAYERS GETTING OLDER: Article from New York Times

And following twitter there was some discussion on this topic recently and probably some inference that maybe PED’s might just be a factor in the 30 + players that are starting to congregate in the top 1000. So topical now with AFL issues in the spotlight. But in reality I simply believe many other factors are at work here. Certainly I always thought Australia’s youth policies were not based on raw hard data and simply flowed on from the subjective notions that tennis was different and was a young person’s sport. I think the critical issue to me is the socio economic factors at play in tennis and the resulting fact that anyone > 18 who was not winning/making money or had rich folks simply gave the game away. Also with the injuries involved and fact that only the top 200 make any money more the reason to not go past the teenage years

In 2002 I presented a lecture on the optimal age of elite sport

OPTIMAL AGE ELITE SPORT

Simply that 25 to 26 was the peak age for fitness related pursuits. 27+ probably for strength related and 28+ it seemed for highly technical sports such as cricket where fitness is important but finely tuned skills and experience is at a premium.

When I started helping tennis players I used to listen to parents and coaches say that if their kids were not making it by 16 to 18 ADIOS any help. There was this ( and still is) this subjective notion that  when that dries up, unlike athletics and AFL, it becomes impossible to continue. Coaches often want 70 plus dollars an hour for coaching. The chase for ITF Junior points and ATP/WTA points require a huge financial push. So if one can afford it then someone who is gifted and works hard but also is from a well funded family can improve from the coaching needed and more so the relentless need for points. If you don’t have points you cannot enter tournaments and then you cannot get more points!

And in Australia and other systems elite targeted kids do get assistance ( not many) but when they falter at 16 to 19 quite often the system spits the player out and the system goes back to the next big hope/s at 14 to 16. I call it the “NEXT” process in these institutionalized systems such as Tennis OZ. Two steps forward and often 2.1 steps back. Tennis is an individual sport like track. And we have seen the institute/bureacracy approach to sport often fail in individual sports ( unlike team sports) unless there is a heavy reliance on sports science such as cycling and swimming. There are too many factors at play in the development of a tennis player which is why the ‘uncle tony” approach often works better with some added help from the federation of course!

When one examines the attributes needed for tennis NO 1 is you must be ale to play! Skill!  Then NO 2 is decision making. Then the ability to move efficiently and then factors such as enough strength to hit the ball hard. But it is not a pure fitness sport like athletics or a combat sport like rugby & AFL. And it even requires less emphasis on a pure fitness quality such as Volleyball where jumping ability is critical. So players are separated by a net and the main thing is get to the ball back and get the ball back over the net. It is hard to pin fitness profiles on a tennis player.

Added to the issues is that the sport requires a huge amount of discipline because of the travel required and also simply the need to back up mentally day in and day out. Certainly so many horror stories in tennis of young players burning out mentally, parents mortgaging houses, injuries etc , all when millions are trying to get into that top 100!

In Europe and only now in OZ there now exists club tennis where older players can earn money yearly and finance their development in their 20’s to push hard from 20 to 27YO in quest for top rankings. This has seen a change in the ability to sustain a career whilst on tour.

Also overseas it is easier now to travel and win points and survive the financial jungle in the 20 to 25YO age bracket. Certainly in OZ if you are not funded y TA and ranked 450 in the world at 24 years of age a trip to Europe for 3months could cost 10,000 plus with no chance of getting money back until one cracks top 250 for example.

Also older players are now better prepared and because of strength and conditioning older wiser and stronger players will always on average beat younger players unless that younger player is a potential Djokovic for example.

I really believe that if the sport of tennis did not rely so much on travel and finances that we would see even a slightly higher average age. It is a sport that is just not accessible to the masses. Too expensive and developed by the rich and an unrealistic points system that makes a few zillionaires but creates many maladjusted uneducated paupers and parents who lost their savings.

So when I read simplistic comments inferring the spread of PED’s in tennis I cringe. Sure they would help recovery given the grind and sure some tennis players will use PED’s like many drug cheats do.

But in my opinion there are many obvious reasons why tennis simply is starting to have the same age distribution as sports like elite AFL, Rugby, NFL, Basketball etc. Simply the average age of top 1000 players is probably 25 approx and that is the same as other sports. Just do a distribution graph. Look at distributions on different ranking areas then work it out. No brainer.

June 3, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nic Bideau’s statements on Drug saga really more related to issues of Long Term development in the AFL

Recently Nic Bideau was quoted on the possible effects of drug use and long term development. I do not want to comment on the current saga at all because really who knows what has happened and what will happen.

Former Olympic coach Nic Bideau says drug effects would linger if Essendon took them

But he did bring up a very interesting point about long term development and also this reflected on the value of highly paid fitness gurus and the media based “instant” hit phenomena that exists. But this also extends to the values exhibited by many in the Sports Science Industry who seize any opportunity to pump up their tyres at the expense of the last fitness person. There needs to be more respect in our industry to our colleagues.

Bideau was 100% correct in this quote below on layers of training. And this aspect goes to Skill, Core Stability, Endurance ie engine capacity, whatever. It takes ages to create an elite athlete. Olympic athletes view these cycles in 4 year blocks often. Below is what Bideau said.

“If you have a really good training year, it helps you forever or until you start to decline,” Bideau said.

“It is building a base layer upon layer upon layer. It’s like pages in a phone book.

“It is foundation you are trying to build. It takes people two or three years to become a fit league footballer, and if you add another layer on, it has to help.”

Recently James Bartel spoke about how long it took to develop a player in the AFL. I presented on this aspect in 2002. Lecture is below. Pretty simplistic but takes till 23 plus in general to make it & 25 as an average.

OPTIMAL AGE AFL LECTURE 2002

We had the odd situation recently where a player from the Melbourne Football Club was saying how unfit the pre NEELD team had been and how they had addressed that. Well that has backfired from a spin doctor perspective, because with Dean Bailey they won more games. Must have some AFL specific fitness to win some games? That spin only works when you win games. Winners are grinners.

All of a sudden Port Adelaide is 50% fitter it seems. Their new guru is an awesome operator so no problems there, but geez there is a bit of moneyball there and more so these young players have been in the gym & on the track doing something for 3 to 5 years already. One 6 week pre season does not develop a player!

In my case I was at Geelong in 1998. All the old list was gone by 2001. Some of the kids arrived in 1999. A few were just there and the rest of the “super team” got there by 2002. So a process of running education, engine improvement, core stability base and simply dotting i’s and crossing t’s with development needs was put in place. Then when they looked ok, we started a heavy weights program and power program aligned to hill running, speed endurance work, plyos, sleds, etc. Still kids but by the time I left in2006 they had done 4 pre-seasons in the gym of squatting, jumping, sprinting etc and before that had the initial layer of core stability and specific needs addressed. If you ran slower than 3.00 for 20m then you were a snail.

So along come the new boys in 2007. Do an awesome job on the track and in the gym and whack, flags galore.

Same happening at Essendon now. Stuart Cormack and Dee Jennings addressed the base needs of the young EFC players in the their development. Whether they should have started ‘loading” a year earlier is academic. One needs to go through the phases of development with these babies coming from the TAC. No compromise can be done because they are just babies when drafted. Then a heavy weights program was “layered” on top of a base pre the Weapon, but maybe too quickly. And yes all these layers or bases are cumulative. So the argument, drugs or no drugs, that a good weights program provides a base for an enhanced endurance high intensity program is obviously valid. Muscle has a memory and strength is a more lasting quality than anaerobic endurance which also needs a reasonale aerobic base. And so on. One pre-season and voila. I wish!

So the media and other fitness staff should always respect what the other person & regime  has achieved ( unless it was totally stuffed from A to Z)  and set up for them instead of indulging in an ignorant and opportunistic political lunge at self promotion OR criticizing the old regime. Just too many media in the AFL now and all about winners are grinners and stating the obvious that an AFL mad public want to hear.

The problem for some clubs is that they chop and change too much or the layers are applied incorrectly or they panic and throw out the baby,bathwater and have to start again. That is another issue and we may be seeing that at Melbourne. If they had followed through with things maybe different now?

Who cares! Football management and understanding how to do all this is a very recent phenomenon. Lots still to learn. But show some respect!

 

 

 

May 5, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SEN Interview with Dr.-Robin-Willcourt: Confused!

Below are links to audio of a SEN chat with Dr Robin Wilcourt with Mark Fine and Craig Harper

SEN Interview with Dr.-Robin-Willcourt

http://www.sen.com.au/audioplayer/Audio/Dr.-Robin-Willcourt-Specialist-in-anti-ageing-and-sports-medicine/7654

And it frankly would confuse the hell out of people I believe. Basically it was promoting the anti-ageing industry and the added benefit of very specific medication ( won’t call it supplementation) to lifestyle improvements to health of especially older people. They did discuss briefly that WADA/ASADA often banned such medication.

But what I did find odd was the good doctor promoting the virtues of all types of anabolic agents. That’s the inference I got. Maybe I got it wrong? And then simply outlining certain case studies such as men in their 40’s with low levels  of testosterone for example who after blood tests could improve health, libido whatever. And Craig Harper then spoke about the acceptance of hormone replacement for women but lack of such for men.

Seemed a pretty simple argument and all the “stuff” discussed seemed like a panacea. Add to this the Paleo diet.

Well in reality we are lucky to live in 2013 because when we do get certain illnesses and problems, technology and medical science has allowed many to live longer and healthier. And there is a definite need for hormone replacement and enhancement in the elderly ( and ill). In fact anyone that has studied understands how anabolic agents are used in medical conditions and this was their evolution., especially post world war 2.

But without going too long in this article there were 2 specific things that irked me about this particular chat. 3 in fact. The third was it was a great AD. To be honest good luck to Dr Wilcourt there and maybe certain other health professionals. But more so I found it odd that apart from aged people, the discussion did not concentrate on the ability of quality exercise and diet to change and modify many of these hormonal and health issues that people appeared with in anti ageing clinics. Add to this the “fat/stressed” mid 40’s guy who only needs a kick up the backside , 15 kgs loss of weight and stress release before remotely thinking of peptides.

We all understand the need for intervention with medication in diseased states and simply saying taking ‘anti-ageing” medication from mid 40’s onwards is a dangerous or maybe more so lazy  practice in my opinion. This is very different to obese, clinically ill people who need instant intervention before irreversible problems occur. Not lazy 50 yo’s!

And then to me the clanger. Just washing over the problems that all this causes in elite sport. We are dealing with 16 to 25 YO’s here. Once we start manipulating things then where does it all end. Sure they did mention that their argument did not apply to athletes due to WADA/ASADA rules. But the boys also did not seem too worried. I have seen Neanderthal morons promoting drugs to young kids in gyms. The evidence is there that many of these kids abuse drugs, peptides and anything.  I just got the feeling here that this chat was a feelgood one about anabolics. There is enough evidence of abuse and problems from anabolic abuse.

Just like cocaine and ice. Once you are hooked on anti ageing drugs can’t you go back I reckon.  The industry will have you hooked. HA! What if you are not diseased but just getting propped up by peptides and you get locked up in a Bali prison? You are screwed in all facets just like a junkie. Again if ill I understand, but if lazy train hard and eat well & see what happens. Then assess medication.

Asthma drugs for example are amazing for people with asthma. But clenbuterol is abused by athletes Growth Hormone is amazing for kids with severe growth deficiencies. HRT is amazing for women with serious problems or post hysterectomy. We all get that. And “anti-ageing” medication will have a critical place in the treatment of disease and health. But before taking drugs do everything possible to improve health drug free. And we now have the wonderful prospect of genetic testing which gets a bad rap. Soon this will allow us to predict our health risks and take precautions along the way. Much better than the next great pill.

But thank heaven that we have WADA and ASADA and there is some “stopper” on some lunatics in society that would chuck anything and everything down their throat or jab anything if all these “wonderful” anabolics were freely available.  Anabolics will evolve now and that is scary. So yep ban them in sport.

Obvious specific, targetted use for health and disease is the aim.

Again a very odd one on SEN. But in my opinion they should have emphasised the need for regulation of this medication in elite sport given sport is played by healthy young kids. I just didn’t get that perspective  from the chat. That was probably my main issue!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments