Wednesday, July 17, 2019


If anyone played footy in Melbourne last weekend then you'll know it was nothing short of a shit storm the entire day.

In my own game we had 4 separate bouts of hail on a ground already covered with water and in the outer suburbs it was snowing - good god almighty.

Fair to say our game was a scrappy affair with a lot of acceleration sprints but because of the boggy ground, it was like running in soft sand with a 20kg back pack on - hence not a lot of max velocity was reached.

I was cooked by the game's end with heavy legs but not necessarily out of breath which was no good either.

Normally I am able to get a fair distance of max velocity speed running in on a Saturday and means I don't have to hit it to frequently during the season, and so I stick to more acceleration based sprint sessions during the week which also are easier to recover from then max velocity session.

The boggy grounds also meant that most of my runs were being powered through tension on Saturday and too much tension means one thing - muscle tears.

With a half decent day on Tuesday I hit the track for what I'll call relation runs.

I'd pulled up quite well from Saturday considering how I felt post-game which put max velocity sprinting, that I didn't get any of on Saturday, could get a look in.

NOTE - Max Speed needs to be trained every 5 - 8 days before it starts to dissipate

Now I might have felt fully recovered but at 40 I need to err on the side of caution so instead of going 100% max velocity, I went the relaxation run route which is 90 - 95% using a gradual build up so max velocity, or near max velocity was reached in all 4 sets, but only for 10 - 15m tops.

A session that ended in some nice times (fly 5m x .53secs + fly 10m x 1.07secs), not PB's but pretty good for the RPE I trained at.

The relaxation runs gives my muscles exposure to split second contract/relax work which is the prehab side of sprinting and why all players should do it each and every week.

Not all running needs to be maximal or exhausting - 99% of players need to do less of this running to actually make any progress.

Monday, July 15, 2019


My 8 year old son Archie plays in the under 9's.

He's one of the top 3 biggest kids in height (unlike his dad - he's already up to my chin) and probably the heaviest (thick legs and glutes like his dad - he's as heavy as I was when I was 12/13).

He's done 4 years of Auskick and a part year of under 8's last year before this year but he loves the training nights far more than the games.

Alas he's played every game this year where getting him to play them in the past was a battle each week.

My philosophy on youth training is forever changing but the principles remain the same:

- Make It Fun

- Teach more "concepts" than specific skills

- Make It Fun

- Design drills for them to explore the concept where it doesn't have to be sport specific at all

- Make It Fun

- Make it slightly more difficult than their current level

- Make It Fun

If you're focusing on setting your defensive zone at any age under probably 16 than you might be coaching for your success over your players development...just say'in. 

Last week I put up a series of videos on Instagram that we've done over the course of the year:


If you've ever attached any form of junior footy you'll know it;s a mass pack all running after the 1 ball!

Archie's coach Cliff has a team rule in the forward line to find space so I set up this drill to train it.

I simply make a circle type shape of space among the cones than he has to turn, find the space, run to it and put his hands up all within 5secs.


Another Cliffy rule is to get the ball and with Archie's size he should be able to go into almost any pack and rip the ball from any kid in there, as well as bulldoze his way through most of them as well.

In this video I'm simply teaching him to hit me with his hip/side as he picks the ball up then to sprint away as fast as he can.


Archie has my genetics something shocking making continuous running a nightmare for him but because he's so stocky, he hasn't quite got he coordination to move his body quickly either so to get him to do some running means I've got to disguise it into something else sometimes which we do with the cones in these next few drills.

More fun entails with a goal kick at the end of each run




Youth training doesn't have to look like a game of footy and sometimes doesn't even have to be footy related.

Essentially you're developing their OVERALL motor skills such as balance, coordination and vision which form your game and without developing them at a young age, players will have gaps in their development that they might not be able to catch up on.

Remember, coach for your players, not for you!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


An article from track coach great Vern Gambetta popped over at his site HMMR Media this very morning on hamstrings.

It's a short brain dump piece with the premise being that AFL probably has as much research into hamstring injuries as any sport on the earth, yet injury rates are still on the rise.

I replied on Twitter in point form and thought I'd expand a bit further on my points here.


Years ago I had a mammoth email chain with a now ex-TAC strength and conditioning coach and the 1 thing that still sticks in my mind from it was this:

"AFL teams want to push you to your threshold and see where you break, then rebuild you up to a greater level then previously"

This weren't the exact words but pretty close.

I'm not going to say that AFL teams are reckless in player management or class players as expendable but there is an attitude to try and get as much work as possible into each and every player, as often as they can and sometimes at the expense of re-injury.

Joe Daniher had pretty much a full year off, a heavily modified pre-season that resulted in re-injury anyway, then came straight back into the AFL only to be out for the rest of the season again because of the original injury within 6 weeks.

The same season ending, non-contact injury 2 years in a row?

Not good enough.


The TAC system is the elite under age football league in Australia but it's only elite in the fact that it's the highest level of under 18 football but that doesn't necessarily make it elite.

Paul Roos while on On The Couch one week a couple of years ago said:

"Let's look at t this way...the Sydney Academy has 30 kids and it's an elite environment at under 18 level. My (Roosy's) son joined the Sandy Dragons this year and at his first training session there was 80 kids which is too many and that's not an elite program."

Don't get me wrong, the coaching and strength and conditioning staff do all they can with what they have but the ex-TAC coach I mentioned above was doing this part time for bugger all money considering the time he had to put in, and relied on his real job to pay the bills.

I think we should return to AFL clubs having under-aged teams like they did in the 80's/90's so that all players can have access to an elite environment and coaches plus teams will be able to employ more support staff as well.


Each year we have some bolters going into the draft like the kid who came on late, played a ripper back half of the season and now gets drafted into the AFL off the back off it.

The issue is that this kid probably hasn't trained hard/long even at under 18 level to reach a relative high level of fitness, leaving him very vulnerable to when he starts training with his AFL team.

AFL teams do take draftees playing/training age into account and a lot of them do about 60% of the senior pre-season training load but there;s a lot more that goes into player load then simply running.

If a player hasn't done a lot of weights in his life until then then that type of stress will be a new stress to their body, and a new stress is almost the highest stressor you can encounter (we all remember how sore we were after our first gym session).

On top of that they have a shitload more tactics to learn on top of the pressure of being an AFL player and not wanting to let you, your family, your friends and your club down.

Which leads to me point 4...


Its always been in the AFL system (Ken Hunter in the 80's) but mental health is a huge sporting and social issue world wide.

Australia is relatively small compared to other nations but the coverage of AFL is probably bigger than any other sport in the sport and there is nowhere to hide.

With no development league from under age football to senior ranks means that kids that aren't at senior level in regards to physical and psychological ability, get left behind.

Even then a player might get drafted because physically they are far more developed then the other kids and just dominate games at the under 18 level, but psychologically need work but not necessarily with the pressure of being the number draft pick to a struggling club who need them to be superstars right away (Jack Watts, Tom Boyd)

A development league would be exactly that - a place to stay in the system but provide room for physical and/or psychological development at each player's level.

Thursday, July 4, 2019


I'll be the first to admit that I know sweet FA about soccer and never watch it but I do read a fair a bit about the different coaching and learning methods used for soccer development at all levels throughout Europe because those things can be translated to all sports.

I read this article and it had some absolute gems in it but just so my non-soccer bias wouldn't creep into my thoughts on this, the first point I made in my summary was "FC Barcelona coach and won everything", just a note to remind me to maybe read this a few times to get all the juice from it.

Here were my other notes...

- Warren Buffet, the world's greatest investor, says that if you want to recruit a leader then they need to have the energy to see the task through, they also need to have the intelligence to be smart enough to know what needs to be done and then the integrity with the ability to be able to role model the correct behaviours

- Energy and intelligence looks good but don’t touch them as they might become toxic to your culture as they will often be clever enough to get away with it for a long time

- Trademark behaviours have to be non-negotiable (humility, hard work, team first behaviours)

- You’re never more powerful than before you start the job because you’ve not lost any games so that’s the time if you have a clear idea of what you want to create to go like a bull out of a gate

- Negotiate for what you want before you start working towards the goal rather than coming in and reacting to situations

- Find your cultural architects (leadership group for on and off the field)

- Spot opportunities to fashion the environment you want such as if you want everyone to stick together off the field then put meals on for them to get to the club early and to stay later

- Identify 2 – 3 keystone habits you want everyone in your team to nail and perform and then apply feedback loops that you measure relentlessly

- He uses the 5 second rule where the idea is that when you lose the ball the opposition are at their most vulnerable for the first 5 seconds so it’s high intensity pressing making life intolerable/uncomfortable for them

- He also focused on possession where if you retain possession of the ball for 70% of the time you’ll have an 85% chance of winning and they used the Rondo Ball drill to train for it (I think I made up a footy version of this somewhere)

- Give players evidence such as “we’re going to measure what your possession stats are in training because we need to retain possession for 70% of the time” then you give the consequence of “If we don’t do that we’ll lose” so you get people to change their behaviour to invest time in training and to really focus and switch on for training

- Create your own cultural symbols that reinforce the behaviours you stand for but don't do things the All Blacks do because it’s not “you” and it ends up as a gimmick - you want more something in line with the North Melbourne/Shinboner spirit mantra

Tuesday, July 2, 2019



- Reduces player uncertainty when they play thus providing more time for creativity


- As a team sit you and your players down and allow everyone to be vulnerable because once everyone does that then you can create an environment that becomes a culture of acceptance

- Top teams and individuals thrive outside of their comfort zones

- Having comfort in uncertainty is 1 method of managing stress


– Once you have reached a point of diminishing returns with traditional loading (volume + intensity) then your only true means to continue adaptation is through variation (repetition without repetition)

– Too much max effort gym work can create governs/limiters on your brain and can rewire how you contract muscle
– In Basketball a player at the top of the key passes to another player at the top of the key who than cuts diagonally through to the corner to compress space on 1 side of the floor
- This opens up space for the player with the ball to drive down the opposite side of the key
- Alternatively you can have 3 players at the top and the 2 passing players do a double diagonal cut to the corner leaving even more space for the ball player to drive into
- For footy you ideally want forward players leading/compressing the thin side leaving ample space to lead into and to be able to kick effectively, to the fat side

– Designed for soldiers to be able to sleep under any conditions

- Worked for 96% of those who tried it for 6 weeks but nothing will happen until week 2

- Sit on the edge of your bed in the dark

- Tighten up your facial muscles then slowly let them loosen/relax and let your tongue fall any which way in your mouth

- Once your face is fully relaxed, let gravity pull your shoulders naturally towards the ground and let your arms dangle 1 side at a time

- While doing all of this breath in and out letting your chest relax more and more with each breathe and let gravity relax your thighs/lower legs

- Once you're totally relaxed try to clear your mind for 10secs

- If something pops up let it pass and keep your body loose/limp and after a few seconds your mind should be clearer

- Now picture 1 of 2 scenarios

- Scenario 1 is of you lying in a canoe in a calm lake with clear blue skies above you

- Scenario 2 is you in a velvet hammock gently swaying in a pitch black room

- If you’re not a great visualiser then chant “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” x 10secs

- At this point you should take about 2mins to get to sleep

Wednesday, June 26, 2019



- More reps equalling better execution is not right as task improvement stops after only 3 reps and task accuracy decreases after only 5 reps

- Don't look for perfect practice as growth only occurs from mistakes

- Limiting reps maximises player intent which in turn increases focus and effort

- Quality reps are what matters

- Improve execution by maximising intent and debrief as necessary while training more in chaos instead of a vacuum

- Successful skill execution of elite athletes in sport is defined by their ability to adapt their technique to the specific game context

- Block training is good for initial skill learning but random training forces the brain and body to adapt

- As a result of this information he changed from practicing specific tasks in 10min blocks to completing 3 perfect-max focus reps and moving onto something else


- Formation is the game's starting positions

- Players need to know their positioning at all times

- Movement of the ball influences player movement

- Players will move around the ball when it stops

- Effective offensive play will display good initial positioning and smooth player circulation to allow the ball to be put into space which creates time

- Move as much as necessary, not as much as possible


- Isolate the player in possession from their teammates

- Guard their teammates in a way that terminates their role in the offense

- Dispossess/win the ball back

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


This almost chase down but kick affecting run by Jason Johannisen was astonishing:

I have just racked my brain to an inch of it's life working out the angled run here but I got some closish figures for this sprint.

Using the length/width of the center square, the length of the Marvel Stadium ground thus enabling to estimate the distance between each grass cutting, I was able to get the timed below.

Also I started his run from the half back edge of the center square.

#1 - Center Square Edge to Grass Cutting 1

- Width x 14m

- Length x 11.39m

- Total Distance x 18.04m

- Time x 2.02secs

- Meters Per Second x 8.93 (ave)

#2 - Center Square Edge to Grass Cutting 2

- Width x 17.5m

- Length x 22.78m

- Total Distance x 28.73m

- Time x 3.61secs

- Meters Per Second x 7.96 (ave)

#3 - Center Square Edge to Player

- Width x 18.5m

- Length x 28.2m

- Total Distance x 33.72m

- Time x 4.23secs

- Meters Per Second x 7.97 (ave)

#4 - Grass Cutting 1 to Grass Cutting 2

- Width x 4.5m

- Length x 17.08m

- Total Distance x 17.68m

- Time x 2.21secs

- Meters Per Second x 8.00 (ave)

#5 - Grass Cutting 2 to Player

- Width x 1m

- Length x 5.69m

- Total Distance x 5.77m

- Time x .62secs

- Meters Per Second x 9.31 (ave)

It should be noted that this was deep in the last quarter and he managed an ave m/s of 9.31 in the last 5 - 6m but I'd love to see how far over 10m/s he registered earlier in the run via his GPS.

As always speed is king because if he can't even hit 10m/s fresh, then how is he even gonna get close to Patty Dow running down the wing?

He doesn't and then Dow can take another 2 running bounces, kick an easy goal on the run from 40 - 50m out and the Bulldogs lose.