loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

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.

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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

The AFL Fitness “Arms Race” and equalization. Is there a better way?

Recently much has been spoken about the Fitness Arms Race and also equalization. Patrick Smith wrote an article about this issue and link is below. But is there a better and smarter way to develop a winning AFL team?

Patrick Smith: Secret to an even AFL Competition is limiting money spent on Football Operations.

I have been out of the cut and thrust of AFL fitness since 2007 but have worked in elite sport since. Much has changed in the AFL and the explosion in spending has been massive. Staff costs has spiralled and ‘gurus” have come out of the woodwork. Clubs in my opinion have panicked and simply jumped on the “arms race” train.

There is no doubt that having quality facilities is critical. And also having large patches of grass without cricket pitches is an obvious. Pristine medical and recovery areas, well set up gym and then the “other”. Even to the point of attracting players in the new free market.

But so many “gurus” have jumped up above $250,000 a year now and given the Sports Science meltdown recently, we have seen Demetrious resolve to up the presence of medical staff. On the one hand that is an honorable aim but cynically it will mean budgets have to be stretched further to accommodate medical staff increases. And someone still has to do the hands on rehabilitation and fitness and that won’t be these new staff additions. Maybe that may be counterbalanced by more physiotherapists with sports science qualifications also to allow double dipping for clubs. Otherwise more money! Or less to fitness staff & more to medicos. But  off we go again with another cost addition and more people drinking coffee in the footy dept reading the Herald Sun on a Monday morning!

One area of great discussion is spending on Sports Science and it’s relationship to success. Where I become a squeak cynical is when I see research papers spinning out of pre-season programs. The FOR argument is to ascertain whether initiatives work for specific sports IE Altitude & AFL. The AGAINST argument is that Sports Scientists are keen to get their name on papers maybe more than winning games & universities crave elite athletes for research. Big call maybe and research is critical but I always was of the opinion that if “research projects” got in the way of a quick change needed in a program due to fatigue, injuries or losses then “research projects” went first.

And I do not want to discuss the physiological gains of altitude and heat adaptation training. But when someone writes that one advantage of going to ARIZONA for such and such a physiological benefit is also TEAM BONDING blah blah I say crap. That is simply an expensive method of TEAM BONDING. Have a comedian come in and then go to Lorne and have a camp. Geezus that is such bunkum.

And recently I wrote about the need to assist players <25 in general on lifestyle issues. To me a 1% gain in endurance and a little increase post ARIZONA in fitness when back in OZ is totally squashed with 4am late nights and smoke filled clubs and alcohol and maybe a little bit of ice.  Spending huge amounts on 1% ers in Sports Science programs when the 5 and 10% ers have not always been addressed yet ( from fitness to lifestyle)  is where I am heading. And the law of DIMINISHING RETURNS is a huge factor in how to decide how much to spend on certain Footy Dept spending needs. Simply what will give the biggest bang for buck!

I think that is what is need is some smart consultants developing some protocols for what will actually assist a club win games relative to money spent. Questions need to be answered such as spending on quality rehabilitation staff and soft tissue therapists/massage. Does one invest massive amounts on very specific and expensive camps and sports science initiatives OR spread the funds around so that many experts and consultants can be accessed and contribute to the needs of the team. From massage to yoga to pilates to speed development to biomechanics to accessing the best rehab specialists one off etc. My last foray into AFL was when I presented a consultancy to the Western Bulldogs on their ACL injury problems and their Strength and Speed programs. I thought I was in a good position to actually deliver a very specific report/s to the club on where they should head in the future.

My gut feeling is that if a club did a lot of research and said we only have $X to spend on medical and fitness and want to maximize every dollar and get maximum effect in it’s relationship to winning games and maximizing individual athletic performance then some clubs could save 30 to 50% on their budgets and still win enough games. Too many managers have never managed elite athletes in a variety of sports and have little understanding of what goes into the long term development of elite athletes and teams. Yet they are often the ones that panic and get sucked into the ‘arms race” vortex. Rich clubs are just that, rich clubs and overall this will help. But there are ways of saving money and achieving maximum performance on the ground.

Coaching is still a hands on process and clubs have to be strong and not get sucked in to paying massive salaries because a team that did, won the flag or improved. Too simplistic.

The whole of the Geelong “super” list was developed on a total shoestring budget. Would not cut it now but the lesson is that coaching is not just about throwing money and stepping into chambers willy nilly. Those players endured till 2011.  It is about that delicate balance between science and coaching. Sports science and evidence based research is critical. But teaching someone how to jump properly and run properly also is.

At AAP we are big on our sports science with GPS,  Biomechanical analysis, and relationships with cutting edge medical and sports science staff and businesses. But we also strive to coach elite athletes hands on.

Jamaica’s sprint supremacy has come about because they realized that they needed to train in Jamaica and stop going to US colleges which have amazing facilities. A few great coaches set up in Jamaica and they often train on grass ovals and in basic gyms. But their method is cutting edge. And they do source expertise world wide for specific rehab and training needs. But still pretty amazing what has happened.

So all I am saying is that  maybe, maybe AFL success is not simply linked to more money spent. Great coaches, elite training methods and maybe less gurus. And remember the LAW of DIMINISHING RETURNS!

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment