Monday, February 27, 2017

Random Training Thoughts Part 1 (Article)

I've linked to this site before because Keir is one of my absolute go to coaches in all of sport, and even though he's Rugby based, the principles behind his writings are applicable to all sports.

This is a 3 part article aeries from a few years ago that re-shaped a lot of my training idea's and I'll try and simplify them for you right now.


- Performance testing can be limited because 2 athletes can get the same score but in 2 very different ways.
- For example I do 5m splits for all my sprints regardless of the distance (10 - 35m) so I have separate time for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35m. What I can see from this is in what zone am I the fastest in for various sprints.
- So if Sam and I both get a 4.70sec 40m sprint time we both look equally as good on paper. Once we get on the ground though it's a completely different story.  Sam has great acceleration and power over 10 - 15m but his reactivness is not his strong suit whereas I am the opposite - I'm a slow starter but a my top max velocity speed is far greater. During a game Sam would wipe the floor with me when breaking away fro a lead up, or bursting out of a pack. On the other hand, poor old Sam is left in the dirt when we play slingshot football and I get to use my top speed to decimate him down the wing.
- As you can see we both registered the same time, but we both need to different training programs to improve.
- The same can be said for aerobic testing as there is far more markers of aerobic fitness then a simple score or distance. You have average heart rate, recovery heart rate, time spend above/below your max aerobic speed, time spend above/below your lactate threshold, all in the same test.
- Again, the same score, but very different training means for individual improvement.


- I've blogged about this before here and it piggy backs off the previous point a little.
- Sam is the bulldog and I'm the greyhound
- In reality In used to be a bulldog but over the last 2 or so years I've aimed to turn into a greyhound which I am now.


- Sam and I get the same vertical leap score - good for us.
- But Sam being the bulldog needs to use a far deeper knee bend as he takes longer to generate force then I do.
- Me being the greyhound, I use a short and shallower knee bend for my jumps.
- Again to improve, we'd both need to opposing programs.


- Joel Selwood, Josh Kennedy, Patrick Cripps, Nat Fyfe, Scott Pendlebury, Jack Viney

AFL Greyhounds

- Lewis Jetta, Jeremy Howe, Gary Rohan, Stephen/Bradley Hill


- Patty Dangerfield, Dylan Shiel

The article can be found here.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Local Footy Gems from AFL/TAC S&Coaches Burgo and Matty Part 8/9

Parts #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7.



No, not for me.

I want players be able to exceed their match intensities so that's what I generally focus on.


Straight away I would exceed match intensities for distance per minute but take a bit longer for other metrics, say about 4 weeks.

We'd do this twice a week in the pre-season but only once a week during off-season.


Most clubs would know this by looking at GPS data from games.

L/A clubs would definitely use MAS but otherwise it's more of an educated guess.


Yes and no.

There are volumes that I think develop athletes to get to a certain level and I certainty believe that developing running economy is important and to do that you need to run a certain amount.

But realistically, the minimum amount possible to get an acceptable level to compete is probably the best answer.

If one of our players gets 15 for the beep test, 22 for the yo-yo test and puts pit 150m/min during a practice match then I'm not going to say, my excel document says you need to run 35 more kms this pre-season until you're fit enough.

We will certainty track high speed and sprint meters to make sure they are exposed to levels that are "at or above match demands."


Pretty much the same answer by both coaches on that one and I couldn't agree more.

Too many L/A coaches train like they always have (high fatigue/low to moderate output) then expect to turn into speed, aerobic beasts come game day.

I've got a graph I made up that will be the subject of a blog post in the next week or so that will look at exceeding match intensities/demands and what it actually means and looks like.

Also not too many L/A coaches can actually tell me what intensity is but without going into detail, what they usually refer to is what I call fatigue - both very different things! 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Women's Football - 18 Thoughts on AFLW So Far

We're almost halfway in the inaugural AFLW season and hasn't it been a banger so far!

I sat down today and wrote down my thoughts on the whole bonanza so far.

Let me know your feedback, comments an thoughts of your own on the Facebook page.

1) The Recruitment of Athletes over Footballers
- bigger grounds + less players requires more running
- they already possess "50% of the requirement" in that they had been in a semi/professional environment before + already had near/elite capacities in specific qualities (speed, aerobic etc)

2) Limited FTA coverage + shitty internet that will not stream anything from the AFL website means if I don't go to the game I can't watch it until the replay comes on online after I've found out the score. I would loved to have watched the GWS/FREO and ADE/CARL games this weekend without knowing the final score beforehand - especially when there is shoe lace tying races or something similar on all four Channel 7 options.

3) Expansion should probably be 3 years or so away for mine BUT then there is an issue with all these academy girls coming out during that time and if they can't all be drafted because of limited spots available, then what happens to them? Also what happens when new teams do come in? Can you "protect" 5 players and the rest are free to be signed up wherever?

4) Skills need work yes, but I figure as these academy girls come in who have played footy since they were 5, it will pick up quite dramatically. The teenage girls I've seen kick the footy at AFLW games with subconscious ball drop, kicking technique etc and the way they move towards the footy in flight all bodes well for future drafts.

5) Intensity is great but they need to learn how to protect themselves. At one point, I think in the GWS/FREO game a player, was running to the next contest, away from the kicker, and ran right under the drop zone and got smashed by 2 or 3 on-coming players - could have been bad.

6) The injury toll is frightening for mine. I understand the short build up, huge increases in intensity and such but again they need to learn how to take and give contact without hurting themselves. I know the Lions have worked a lot on tackling technique to avoid injury even if it's not pretty. As the women have more pre-seasons, I hope this improves greatly

7) That being said they'll be going from AFLW season to local season to AFLW season and so on so if they keep the AFLW season where it is, which I do like, then it means there is little down time, little general/semi specific prep/training time (base fitness/strength etc) and the high rate of injury is maintained.

8) More players per list for sure but again, more training time is also needed to prep players for the rigors of the game.

9) Dropped marks with players on their own has actually hurt teams - a simple skill really that I would've thought wouldn't have been an issue even in the infancy of the league.

10) I wouldn't be against players names on their jumpers like basketball to help us get to know the players quicker.

11) Smaller grounds/venues might be better for the game but I don't see the crowds decreasing soon which would be a logistical nightmare.

12) I'd like to see the AFLW season stand alone and not be on during the men's season as that will affect crowds dramatically with females (and me) playing footy those days and not being able to go to games. Also families with kids who play footy/Auskick might find it hard to go as well.

13) Congestion is an issue which is part skills and part coaching. I wouldn't be against having to keep 1 or 2 players/team in each half of the ground at all times but then we don't get to see McCarthy's goals from the weekend so I don't know.

14) How many of these players picked from different sports will actually go back to them or stay in footy "full time"? I'd like to think that how outrageously successful AFLW has been so far, that they'd stay in footy.

15) How hard do the AFL go in funding women's football at all levels? I'd say they have to go as hard as they can and back it in - it can't all be about the top end and simply ignore the bottom. At least liaise with bottom feeder teams/leagues etc and make sure they can all survive initially as they build up.

16) The game style and umpiring is local footy style which is resulting a some great tackles and bumps but also sling tackles. Tackling will also be improved as players get more training time under their belt. In the AFL you see players "half"tackle and almost look after the bloke they're tackling for fear of getting reported for accidental contact but none of that with the women! It's all in, the umpires are letting it go and I'm happy!!

17 - I've been to 4 games and watched maybe 4 others so I've sen every team play now but I don't think my fav/best players will be a surprise. Kearney, Davey, Eric/Cat Phillips, Harris, Blackburn, Pearce, D'arcy, Tex, McCarthy, Paxman, Vescio, Randall and Mifsud looked good last weekend too for a first glance.

18) This too-much-media thing for Moana Hope is bullshit. In the men's we crave for players who are individual and who don't really toe the company line (Dane Swan for example.) Yes she wzs drafted a as a marque player but with the game tipped to be open and free flowing allowing for plenty of scoring opportunities, and in turn 1-on-1 contests, there's no doubt a 100+ goal kicker has a place as a marque draft pick. Unfortunately Collingwood's form, delivery and AFL game style allowing ZERO 1-on-1's in the Collingwood forward line, has not really allowed Mo to display the qualities that make her a 100+ goal kicker. I am on-board with letting her off the leash with a run through the middle or maybe off half-back just for  5 - 7min spell to get her hands on it. I hope she kicks 3 this week against the Dogs who didn't defend well against the Crows a couple of weeks back when I last watched them live,

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Local Footy Games from AFL/TAC Fitness Coaches Burgo and Matty Part 7/9

Parts #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6.



I wouldn't really.

If anything I'd encourage players to get an activity tracker.

This way they can check their heart rate and get them to understand their own body.


Every club will be different, at my local club, some guys will happily do heart rate monitoring, wellness diary etc every day and others wouldn't touch it for the world.

I always think about the "carrot and the stick".

I would educate them on what it is and why it is potentially valuable to them, if they would want to do it and then reward will be their performance.

On the other hand if they don't, they don't and I don't believe that you can force them.

I've tried it before with punishments if "Barry didn't do his diary so we all do 400's" but it rarely works in the long term and certainly doesn't help team chemistry.


Here's what I monitor every single day:

- Resting Heart Rate
- Daily Heart Rate Variability
- Baseline Heart Rate Variability
- All Training Sessions Logged into Training Spreadsheet

I'm a numbers man so I need actual figures to tell me information so I can make informed decisions going forward.

I intend to do a blog post of it's own on what I track and why but what it's done for me this off-season is to nail my weekly schedule so I'm as fresh can be for the days that really matter - sprint days.

I was able to find a pattern in my output vs my recovery that enabled me to take the program my US strength coach gives me, and reshuffle to fit me.

Looking back I can see why I didn't perform as well in certain sessions and why I over-performed in others.

One one hand collecting data can be extremely useful but on the other hand data is only as useful as you can make it.

I would encourage every football player to at least test their HRV like I do above which provides me all those other readings at the same time - it takes 60secs as soon as you wake up - and can really allow you to see how life + training is affecting your body.

With the season coming around I'll be opening up the player monitoring system again which is based on this daily reading where I get your numbers and then let you know what you're week should look like that you can use as a guide to make sure you're 100% come Saturday.

If you want to get started early and get the jump on the competition let me know via the Facebook page.

Monday, February 20, 2017


I'm not sure how I'll go with this but I am extremely interested in the stories behind all women footballers, how they started, why the stopped, why they started again etc.

We hear of them from the AFLW and they're great to listen to - the perseverance, the never say die attitude - all the things us male footballers believe we have in spades.

Except I doubt whether we have actually faced anything like the challenges women footballers have faced in simply being allowed to play football, let alone getting their position in Australian Rules Football recognised and put on center stage.

With my small crop of women footballers I'm training right now, I'm asking them to give me their football stories to post here on the blog and we start with Sarah Andrews, who featured on this blog a couple of days ago when she broke every one of her personal speed records in the 1 session with me on her quick trip to Melbourne.

We are both very happy with ho she is tracking after really only 3 and a bit weeks of training under her belt as we both know that she is a bit of a project with the fact that we are pretty much teaching her nervous system how to run again from years of skating!

"Righto, to put it into perspective, for the past 30 years of my life I've trained my body to be a fucking rock.

I've come through eventing and dressage, to trying, and failing to sail around the world on my own after sinking my boat in the Pacific, through to Roller Derby.

30 years of having half-tonne horses, 41 foot boats, huge swells and 100kg angry derby girls on roller-skates throwing themselves at me day after day.

I started playing footy last year and I guess I was drawn to it for a number of reasons

I love contact sports, love trying things I can't do, I love girls in tight shorts.....but people said "you can't - you can't run or jump".

I 've never played a ball sport before, I've never watched a game of footy - but fuck it I can do anything right?

Anyway - the thing is that I tried, I trained and I practiced away bit I could not bloody run or jump, I've never needed to.

I remember last year trying to run with my wife and she told me that I looked like a baby giraffe trying to walk.

I worked like a dog at a bone on this last year with a number of coaches on a number of footy conditioning programs with no success.

If anything my ruck jumps were worse at the end of last year than when I started.

What a downer.

I've always been able to able to smash whatever I've put my mind to, but my body just wouldn't come to the party on this one.

I'd been following Troy's blog for a while and I figured I'd get in touch because what did I have to lose? 

I'd been already looking at quite a few of the footy fitness blogs and programs but I could already do all of the strength stuff they were prescribing and it still wasn't helping me.

Troy seemed to take a more dynamic and individual approach and seemed genuinely interest in my personal shortcomings and how we can improve them.

A month in and it's hands down the best thing I ever did.

I get now why I couldn't get my body to do move the way I wanted it to and give it a few more months and it will.

I've fallen into a training pattern which is getting huge results, and few days of Netflix and chill every 28 days (ladies you hear me?!).

I've started to literally 'bounce' around which feels slightly weird, and all my numbers are moving in the right direction.

I've fallen in love with footy, my team and my body, it's actually super remarkable, I was just giving it the the wrong stuff to do at the wrong times.

Girls, if you've got goals, and you're actually serious about achieving them then get in touch with Troy, this bloke knows what he's talking about and if you're willing to put in the work you'll smash it.

It's the best thing I've done since I picked up a football.".

I spend a good chunk of Sunday training Sarah in-person for the first time during a quick trip over the Tasman and we got into a bit more of her story since she wrote this for me.

During her primary school years she was actually banned from Netball because of her physicality where all the other parents pretty much "revolted" against her!

She excelled at the contested ball test at the AFL Combine Talent Day she attended where the she literally scared the other females off from going near her.

At one point we were going through some ruck strategies and she stiff-armed me into next week without even trying - like a female Dustin Martin!

I actually can't wait to see some footage of her physicality because she could really make her mark in women's football withca trait that only a small number of women have.

There are plenty that go in hard, but to be just able to (wo)manhandle players through contact would be frightening to see.

Let me know your women's football story at

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Local Footy Games from AFL/TAC Fitness Coaches Burgo and Matty Part 6/9

Click for part #1#2#3, #4 and #5.



There's definitely a "close enough is good enough".

I think there's a diminishing returns in hammering the aerobic sise of things too much and it will eventually lead to a deterioration of explosiveness.


There is definitely a sense of what is the minimum level you need to get to in order to repeatedly display  your power.

For instance Esava Ratugolea last year (Geelong fans, you're in for a real treat) is the best speed/power athlete I've eve coached.

His endurance was horrible when he came in as a 17 year old and we could have smashed him for 2 years to make him  a "14 beeper" and risk breaking him or losing that power that makes him special.

But we just built him to a level (and he had to work to get there) where he could stay in games for longer and the recruiters weren't worried about his ability to run at the level, but maintain his strengths.


I've blogged about this type of stuff for a while now as I am your classic strength/power athlete and traditional footy training can tear me down more then build me up.

Auto regulation training, drop off points and individual training should all be used at all footy clubs to some degree, especially your stars.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sarah Andrews Training Update

Back in January I introduced one of the female footballers I'm training Sarah Andrews who has come from a roller derby background of recent times and moved to footy last year for her first season.

As mentioned in her introduction post, she had been almost bolted to ground from her roller derby days with almost zero existence of elastic ability of her muscles and tendons.

Sprinting is like a huge set of rubber bands being pulled back and let go but all the time spend in an isometric semi-squat position for roller derby, and the use of skates to roll on robbed her of running ability.

Our first goal was to get her body to get to know running again so we focused on a lot of tempo runs over at about 90% that focused on total relaxation of her muscles with absolutely zero concern for speed or distance.

All we wanted to do was avoid straining which creates tension and tension slows muscle contractions down.

During this she developed a shin splints, which she has had on and off since she started footy so we needed to back off a bit and space things out better although she was reporting that running felt 100% more comfortable in this time.

She also has had all sorts of issues when her cycle finishes which would leave her totally bed ridden for 3 - 5 days so we also needed to work out a plan around that.

We sat down online style and hashed out a plan for February based on the menstrual cycle post above and it seems to be a winner.

She only had 3 days off which means we were able to get back into full training earlier then expected which is always a good thing.

This is when we actually started up the sprinting speed program.

So far this month she has performed 4 sprinting sessions on her own down in Tassie and this is what had happened:

5m Standing Sprint x 1.63 - 146secs
10m Standing Sprint x 2.65 - 2.50secs
15m Standing Sprint x 3.46 - 3.33secs
20m Standing print x 4.46 - 4.18secs
Flying 5m Sprint x .81 - .76secs
Flying 10m Sprint x 1.67 - 1.60secs
Flying 15m Sprint x 2.56 - 2.43secs
Flying 20m Sprint x 3.48 - 3.23secs

Not bad results in 4 sessions really but she's a hard one to please!

This weekend she came over to Melbourne and we had booked a sprinting session for Saturday except she was all feverish and we cancelled it which was disappointing for me as I wanted to see what we could achieve in person and not on grass that;s up to the middle of your shin.

Low and behold Saturday night she texted letting me know she'd come good and we booked in Sunday morning for the sprint session.

After going through the be activated activation treatment and then running her through an extended warm up to what I'd given her online, we did our normal sled sprints paired with body weight sprints followed by some flying sprints.

Getting back to roller derby stealing her running ability away from her, what it did do that was a positive was to provide her with great strength which also required for putting force into the ground to generate output or horizontal propulsion - something that 99% of women lack.

I could already see from her videos that she sends me that we needed to focus on technique a fair bit so she could use the strength she already had and translate into speed...and we did.

In session 5 with me this morning we improved all those times above except for one!

5m Standing Sprint x 1.63 - 146secs
10m Standing Sprint x 2.65 - x 2.44secs
15m Standing Sprint x 3.46 - x 3.20secs
20m Standing print x 4.46 - x 3.99secs
Flying 5m Sprint x .81 - x .70secs
Flying 10m Sprint x 1.67 - x 1.45secs
Flying 15m Sprint x 2.56 - x 2.25secs
Flying 20m Sprint x 3.48 - x 3.10secs

Fair to say we are both pretty happy with all of that and really all it took was a little bit of technique work to optimise the speed and strength she already had - a hugely underrated part of speed training in my book.

I've still got 9 spot available for a 2 week training trial for women footballers so if you want IMMEDIATE gains like this, then fill in this 30secs application form and I'll be in contact very soon.