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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Practicing Perfection by 10,000 Touches


Last week I put up a post referring to an article by a soccer coach named John Townsend who also has this article on skill development.

I'm never at training with my team because of work commitments but I do know that we spend a lot of time on zone defense kick out scenario's, when we are defending the kick in.

There might be 8 - 14 times this happens in a game which means it does need to be addressed in some form but I hear we do this A LOT.

With 2 - 3 hours of training per week, this is a lot of focus on such a small aspect of the game.

What John Townsend saw was that players as young as 8 - 9 years old doing extra training away from team training duties, getting up to 10,000 touches of the ball each and every day for various drills, all at game speed.

They would sets of 100 - 200 reps ans rotate through different stations, something similar to what I've suggested before on this blog somewhere (I cannot remember where - maybe it was one of my past training manuals?).

If a high skill session of short duration skill drills such as running out picking up the ball and kicking to a teammate will last 3 - 5secs per rep, makes you breathe harder then most running drills then it shows your skill deficient and that to execute game skills at game speeds costs a lot more energy to do, then the slight jog and kick you do at regular footy training.

This means that you will be getting poor, if any, transference from training to games and that you simply won't have the capacity to have the high skill level required when you need it the most.

It;s great of you can run 2kms in 6mins, but it's better of you can hit a teammate on the chest 9 out of 10 times - it means you won't really need that running ability in the first place.

Teams at all levels of football need to make skill mastery a demand, not an exception where some players have it and some players don't.

I would love for a coach to try something like this to see the results, I really would.

On-field performance will improve with fundamental skills and game actions trained correctly and consistently where the repetition results in initial complex skills becoming simple over time.

To try this out on your own or with your team the few rules to go by are:

- Each drill is a progression from the previous drill

- Start with basic drills which might be stationary kicking, push back and kick and handball drills (Western Bulldogs style).

- To progress from there you might add running kicks to a teammate leading in and from various angles

- Finish off with game simulation/speed drills and team tactic drills

Here's a soccer video of a 10,000 touch workout and you can see how the actual drills are very specific aspects of actions from soccer - they don't need to be full footy actions for this such as long kicks, running skill drills etc.

I think that's where a lot of coaches go wrong, trying to be efficient and mixing everything in together (running with balls) and not really excelling at any 1 thing, rather improving slightly at a lot of things, but overall making little difference come game day.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Women's Football Dominance Checklist

As "everything" as football seems, there are still specific markers that provide a fairly decent correlation to what you'll be able to do in the field of play.

Most test, even at the combine, don't really test actual performance of anything football specific, but rather gives recruiters an idea of where an athlete sits within each of the specific tests.

At the L/A level we don't need to concern ourselves with anywhere near as much as the AFL does. They test and old data to within an inch of your life but they also have the technology to be able to use all of that data and get something out of. At L/A level, data is only as good as what you can do with it and without plenty of casholla lying around, that's generally not much.

Below I have settled on 5 easy to-do tests that anyone can do pretty much with some, but minimal equipment.

Each test has a direct correlation to what you'll be able to do out of the ground too.

Here they are:

#1 - ACL RISK ASSESSMENT

Exercise - Repeat Jump Squats x 5 reps

How to Do the Test - Simply jump up and down in a rhythmic motion for 5 continuous reps. Video yourself from the front, side and back view - so do 3 individual sets with 3 - 4mins between them.

What are We Looking For - We're looking predominantly at the technique you use to drop into your squats, transition from downward to upward motion and then how you land after each jump. I'd also use the sound of your landings to give me extra feedback on your capabilities within this exercise. Any severe falling in of the knees shows poor stability and coordination of the lower body that puts you at a high risk of an ACL tear, the carer killer! There's a great post on ACL exercise prescription here but it's best done with a holistic program.


#2 - ACCELERATION SPEED

Exercise - Standing 20m Sprint

How to Do the Test - From a standing start with absolutely no bouncing, sprint 20m as fast as you can. If you've jumped on board my Women's Football Training program you know that I love to also get split times for 5, 10 and 15m as well.

What Are We Looking For - A good time is 3.80secs, a better time is 3.50secs and a great time is 3.20secs. The splits can also tell us a bit more about how slow or fast it takes you to accelerate up to top speed.



#3 - MAX VELOCITY SPEED

Exercise - Flying 20m Sprint

How to Do the Test - Using the same markers as your standing 20m sprint test, start 15 - 20 back behind the 0m marker. Build up gradually into top speed just BEFORE the 0m marker then simply sprint through the 20m fly zone. Top speed is more genetic then acceleration speed but no one really trains it properly so you'll be nowhere near your full potiatial so it can be trained up quite a bit initially.

What Are We Looking For - 3.00secs is s good score, 2.70secs is a better score and 2.40secs is a great score.


#4 - LOWER BODY STRENGTH

Exercise - Squat or Deadlift Variation

How to Do the Test - This is not really a test but is something that you would build up to in your training program. This might take 6 - 12 weeks depending on your training experience. You don't need to be in a hurry here because any strength increases along the way will still help you in regards to force production for speed/agility and injury resiliency.

What Are We Looking For - a 1.0 x body weight equivalent lift is good, 1.2 x body weight equivalent better and a 1.4 x body weight equivalent is great. So at at body weight of 63kgs your looking at 63, 76 and 88kgs respectively - not outrageous numbers at all when you think of long term development.



#5 - AEROBIC CAPACITY

Exercise - Resting Heart Rate

How to Do the Test - Each morning as soon as you wake, but before you get out of bed, take your RHR x 10secs then times it by 6. Write it down each time as well.

What Are We Looking For - I wrote a blog titles "Widen Your Aerobic Window For Running Greatness" which goes into detail about why this is important, but we want it to decrease to provide actual aerobic benefits. A RHR of 58 is good, 54 is better and 50 is great. In the video I mention heart rate recovery which is how fast you can return to baseline, or near baseline after an intense bout of activity which is crucial for footy (repeat speed), but that's something we can worry about later.


Look out early next week when the Aussie Rules Women's Football Training Program is released and I can train you to these levels and beyond through in-person, online or a combination of both fashion. To get first dibs, join up to the Aussie Rules Women's Football Training Private Facebook Group where there are 87 other like minded coaches, players and admin staff involved in Women's Footy where you can ask your questions, get them answered and also share idea's on developing WF and also dealing with the boom in players but still a lack of resources!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Coaches Special - Training vs Practice


When I put stuff in my files, I cut and paste it from the internet. Later when I have time I go back to it, give it a read and type some summary points about it that I wasn't aware of before going into it. I give it a title and the author next to it so I can reference it on the Internet later if I need to like this:

Training vs Practice (john townsend) - blah, blah, blah...


Except for this one I can't locate the article on the net so I won't have a link to the original article but it was a doozy I assure you.


Anyway it was from a soccer based coach named John Townsend who went into pretty good detail on how training differentiates from practice and I've touched on a few of these aspects rather broadly in the early part of this year in various blogs but it;s time get a bit more specific.


Here are the cliff's:
  • Training is the aquistion of new skills
  • Practicing is a method of learning and rehearsal of already acquired skills that needs to occur in a controlled environment prior to game simulation
  • Working on kicking requires drills designed specifically for kicking, not necessarily holistic play (kick, mark, handball, running at the same time) 
  • Training 's main goal is to push for marked and measurable performance of a specific skill through your performance output
  • Performance output is the quantitative and often, exhaustive measure, of a player’s ability to perform a specific skill/task or a series of tasks
  • True training tests performance inputs (capability/capacity to learn, new concept retention, max levels of productivity etc.)
  • Skill/Technical work falls into the category of training while a players application of that learned/acquired technical ability is true practice
  • Players have only a limited amount of time in a session to actually train before that ability runs out
  • At the end of the session the athlete should feel physically and mentally pushed and thus the frequency and duration they can train at well increases resulting in a bigger, stronger and better player over time
  • Less talented/experienced players have little idea about mastery whereas the most talented/experienced players will dip a toe in the waters of mastery but usually stop short of full immersion from not wanting to fully exit their confort zone
  • Elite players live in the non-comfort zone
  • All sport specific skill sets require learning, retention of skills/methods, repetition/deep practice, practice prior to meaningful comp and revisiting fundamental skills to increase performance output
  • Good players survive on effort, great players survive on ability but effort will only take you so far
  • Valuing effort over skill/technique (huge in AFL at al levels) hides gaps in your game that are shown up against higher competition
  • This results in a disproportional attitude of proficiency which is where something exceptional for player A, is only entry fee for player B but everyone needs to reach the same level
  • Instead of modifying a drill to fit the skill level of your players, develop their skills enough to perform the drill in the first place
  • Train skill specific technique and get it to a specific level prior to introducing game tactics which are built of high skill
  • Without high skill level, players won’t play with the speed and creativity to required to excel
  • Practice sessions at elite level consists of basic tasks carried out with speed and intensity requiring you to carry out high skill under duress with high rates of success (output).
  • If you’re skills aren’t up to par in a sub-max speed session, then you’ll fall apart during the those sessions
  • Repeated skill work in isolated sessions away from match play is the fastest way to technical mastery
  • Practice and training both require a balance ratio of instruction and activity performance
  • Assess your training sessions on not just the amount of activity time players get, but how much non-activity time they get as well
  • Drills must align w/ the ability of the collective
  • The player must improve on their time, not the teams time
  • Bored players become disinterested players which can decrease total team session output
  • Stagnation is the result of inaccurate coaching prompts/ cueing so unless there’s more value in players watching a drill, those not directly involved gain little from standing off to the side for prolonged periods of time
  • Effective coaching methods has players engaged in secondary involvement where active rest is performed with balls
  • Age 7 – 10 is the golden age of learning
  • He watched some academy sessions and the 90min sessions had 23 and 27mins of down time per session, which is training time you don’t get back
  • Details of any set play tactics should be provided ahead of using them at training in an absorbable format
  • If you want players to be responsible and well-versed on the sessions objectives, then coaches are responsible for giving them a means to make this happen
  • Strength training is called that instead of strength practice because the specific training is geared towards an athletes ability to address their weaknesses an route to yielding max performance output
Plenty of food for thought there for coaches and players alike so if I can actually locate the article I'll link it in when I do!

Friday, March 17, 2017

What to Do With AFLW Players When They Get Back to VFLW


It's unfortunate, and it's gone so quickly, but AFLW is coming to an in 8 days.

With last home and away round this weekend, and the Grand Final for next weekend, all AFLW players will go back to their local/amateur football clubs and go back to their lives of pre-October 2016.

Here in Melbourne we have 2 powerhouse women's team in the local comp being Darebin and Melb Uni.

Both of these teams have 15 - 20 players on AFLW lists with each player essentially doing a full winter season with them, then going into AFLW in November (training harder and longer then they ever have), into the season proper in 30+ degree heat most games and at intensities that must almost double what they encounter at local level.

The Victorian Football League Women's Season 2017 starts May 6, will run for 14 weeks plus another 4 weeks finals, with the grand final being played on the weekend of September 16.

There is 1 week off early to mid June.

So AFLW girls will have played footy for 22 weeks (if you made finals) in 2016, had 6 - 8 weeks off, into AFLW in November (but surely training before then to prepare), then pretty much head straight back to the VFLW for another potential 22 weeks.

That equals about 65 weeks off footy out out 75 at or above levels most of the players will never have even knew existed, let alone trained or played at.

This will result in fatigue - local and systemic.

And this fatigue will need to be carefully managed by their VFLW teams to 1 - have them all firing come finals in August and 2 - have them ready for AFLW pre-season in November this year.

Here's what needs to happen for all of these players in some shape or form.

REHABILITATION

The AFLW season might not have been long but it was intense and players will have been pushed to their limits week in and week out which was evident with the injury list that we see right now. L/A clubs will need make sure that any ailments from AFLW have been 1005 cleared up before returning to training and playing. They will also need to look at restoring muscle function in regards range of motion immediately. I can only assume some women are holding on just to survive at this point of the season so my biggest thing would be to get the body back into a parasympathetic state which facilitates recovery before doing anything of any real intensity. Which leads me toooo...

HEART RATE VARIABILITY

Heart rate variability can sow you how short and long term stress is affecting you and your ability to perform at a high level. Footy has developed a terrible habit of seeing how much you can do, with no rest for as long as you. This results in a very poor quality of output in regards to max speed (sprinting speed), sub-maximal speed game running speed), skills and decision making. I've said this 100 time but no one gets better at anything when they're tired, except being tired. I would assume that the AFLW clubs would have been tracking something similar to this so it would be handy if they passed on this information to L/A footy clubs to continue with and then they can exchange data at season's end for continuity. 

WELLNESS SURVEYS

Once again I assume AFLW clubs were runnign something along these lines to get subjective scores from each player on each day which when coupled with an actual HRV reading, can provide great insight into a players readiness to train and thus game performance improvement. If you're feeling like shit and complete a huge session then it's almost guaranteed that you're performance in the coming game will be subpar as you're simply piled fatigue on top of a pile of fatigue which takes time, and rest, to get rid of.

TRAINING RESIDUALS

This is important for all players, not just AFLW players as it refers to how long a specific quality (strength, speed etc) stays with you before you need to train it directly again, to "top it up". This is a god send for coaches who can then plan they're training sessions around what needs to be and when - not just haphazardly throw in some 400's as you think your players need a fitness boost. That's stupid. This also means you can have more time to dedicate to skills, tactics and game sense. For AFLW players it means you....

GET THE MOST FROM THE LEAST

The activity that you can get the most benefit from with the least amount of output is always the best choice during the in-season, and often all the time. The AFLW girls probably won't be up for the hard slog of training, nor will they need it like the other players, so being extremely efficient in regards to training them will be vital in keeping on the park and interested in footy having played for 12 months straight pretty much already.

MAINTENANCE OF A QUALITY IS EASIER THEN BUILDING IT

The AFLW girls simply need to maintain whatever level they were at at the completion of the AFLW season. There might be a small drop as the demands of the game won't be as high but they will still be keen to keep what they built at their AFLW clubs to take into season 2018. Did you know that maintaining a quality is far, far, far easier then building? You can maintain something training at just 30% of the volume you took to build it, so long as intensity is 100%. It doesn't like much and it actually isn't

MINI PRE-SEASON

Depending when the AFLW women go back to their L/A clubs, they will need a mini-pre season including all of the points mentioned above that should be pretty much the first month or so. AFLW is now priority number 1, not VFLW, so coaches will need to take that into account before anything else. This means throwing Daisy Pearce straight back into the middle for 80mins a game might not be a wise move straight up and she now has something to 'save energy for" which she didn't have before. Just quickly you'll need to look at speed, strength, rehab and endurance and determine what needs to be tackled the most at what time which will pretty much be decided by the training residuals process.

PLAYER ROTATION

Especially for the VFLW teams with many players in AFLW, I would think player rotations will be quite high this year compared to other years. I'd still have them play most if not all of the games, but I would put a premium on rotating players, and were probably talking midfielders for the most part here, through the middle, forward line and the interchange bench. I;m not sure of Emma Kearney has ever sat on the bench in VFLW before, she hadn't missed a second playn until this past week in AFLW, but I think it might be wise to cut game time, and thus playing volume down a bit for the AFLW girls. And you know what? They will be much better now dropping back a level and might be just as prolific in less time which should make this process easier for coaches.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

You Don't Get Better at Footy Training Part 2


In part 1, I wrote about the aspects of footy you need to do in your own time to fully reach your potential as footy training only allows 2 - 4 contact hours a week and is no where near enough time to cover everything.

We looked at max speed, agility, aerobic capacity and movement efficiency while also looking at how decision making and exceeding intensities/velocities can be performed at training (but never is as well as touching on a thing called homeostasis and how it related to getting bigger, stronger, faster and fitter.

In part 2 here we'll look at what I've just named "levels of training for performance" - yep I rattled my brain forever coming up with that.

These principles of training aren't new, they've been around for decades in elite sport under different names and systems and I'm just making this post as footy specific as I can so it hopefully resonates with the footy masses.

LEVEL 1 - TRAINING TO TRAIN

I am far from any sort of elite status but I do train like I am so I'm going to use my own training as an example throughout this post I think.

Once our season ends then I have a week off and then I'm back into it. We've made finals the last 3 - 4 years so that means By October I;m back in the swing of things - usually after AFL grand final weekend actually as I have a big one that day!

Now just remember that I don't train with my team because I work evenings so my I cover everything in my own training except skills and tactics which isn't ideal as skills is THE number 1  thing to train above all else, but I'm lucky in that I'm 38, I've played a million games and I don't lose touch without handling the footy like most players do.

Training to train refers to preparing the body for pre-season training. At a minimum that's all you've got to do between September and mid-November.

Generally pre-season training in the phase before Christmas will involve some low to moderate intensity running, a fair bit ball skills (hopefully!) and some cross training methods like bike rises, beach sessions etc.

So to prepare the body for that type of activity you need to hit the gym. and in the gym you'll need to look at the following:

- Regaining any lost mobility from the previous season
- Increasing body mass/armor for the up-coming season
- Increasing/regaining max strength levels form previous or up-coming season
- Train through as many different ranges of motion as you can
- Address, or start to address, any personal weaknesses that stop going to another level in your footy (speed, aerobic capacity etc)

What you don't need to but what everyone seems to do is;

- Endless endurance runs to get fit for footy training - don't you go to footy training to get fit?
- Only focus on getting bigger in the gym, not stronger, which is far more important for any sport, not just footy
- Do not ignore rehab, even you don't have an injury - the stress of beat up local footy grounds and poor recovery can result in the body "taking the path of least resistance" to get the job done which means it will only use the muscles or joints it feels are the strongest to do a certain job, regardless if they are meant to do the job or not. This results in mobility and flexibility deficits and increase your risk of injury at anytime, but trying to go straight back to 100 mile an hour in October without re-servicing your body, will end up in an injury at some time.

Getting back to the "getting fit for footy training' point, if you're coach has done it correctly, then you should be able to complete they set out at all training sessions. You should never not be able to complete a drill that they ask you to do.

If they intend on pushing the envelope a bit in regards to intensity then that's fine if they either let the players know that come December we're gonna up the ante a fair bit so do some extra work now, or they build up to it gradually from when they start in November.

Apart from that I would save your time and energy resources into training other stuff you won't do at footy training, as mentioned in part 1.

LEVEL 2 - TRAINING TO PLAY

So we've done some pre-Christmas training to prepare ourselves for the 10 week slog that is the pre-season period covering January to practice matches in March.

You've developed the base of all strength and fitness qualities last year so now you're ready to go up a level which refers to:

- Exceeding game intensities/velocities (refer to part 1)
- Improving the ability of your muscle fibers to contract and relax at extremely fast rates (that is what sets elite sprinters/athletes apart from us and why it looks like they are doing it easy)
- Game simulated training drills progressing from pre-planned to chaotic to enhance decision making and skills under pressure.
- Fatigue build up

Let's look at the fatigue build up bit in a little more detail. Most teams train with the aim to smash their players with as much fatigue as possible in the hopes that that will make them better players. This is only partially true.

In my post a little while ago titled "watch the player, not the game", as a coach you need to know the difference between game movement and player movement.

Someone who has not watched a game of AFL will immediately think "shit those players run forever" which some do but at the L/A level, it's more sprint to a contest, battle it out for 2 - 3secs then walk/jog.

So are all those 400's doing you any good or are you better served improving your acceleration/speed over 20 - 30m to get to that contest first then sprint away from them?

Train slow to run slow is very real thing.

LEVEL 3 - PLAY TO PLAY

This obviously refers to practice matches where all your training until now has been to prepare for them, not round 1.

The arousal you'll reach for these games will be much higher then training and therefore intensity and output can be greater.

Couple this with great fatigue from said increased output and heavy contact and that first practice game can put you bed 5mins after it's finished (like me this Saturday after 32 degrees I suspect!)

As game simulated as you might try to make your training, it cannot, and will never match a real game at the L/A level, which is why practice games are vital as they are the bridge from your training to round 1.

Without these practice games then you'll struggle through the first 3 - 5 games of the season which 255 of the season wasted essentially.

On top of that your injury risk is higher as you're going from level 2 to level 4 (games), completely missing level 3 (play to play).

Simply turning up to footy training and doing the same old thing every year will not make you a better player. You need to develop new capacities, new power and new skills. You cannot do the same thing and expect a different result.

Being a reserves footballer I see this with almost every player I play with and that's fine, most aren't as invested as I am in training for footy, but if you want to win premierships at any level, and I;m pretty my reserves team wants to after blowing our best chance 2 years ago, then you need to get better.

And that means doing stuff on your won away from footy!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Women's Football - NEW Private Facebook Group Women's Football Only!


AFLW and Women's Football is going banana's not just in Australia but the world over.
I've already displayed my love and belief in WF with over 100 pages worth of blogs on the topic already.

Since I started up my blog I had a focus on men's footy because that's what I do. I was aware of women's footy but that was about the extent of it.

I pretty much knew that Darebin and Diamond creek win everything and I also used to live in St Kilda and played at the Peanut Farm so I knew the St Kilda Sharks were there as well.

I tried to get my wife to play there but then she fell pregnant.

Once the AFLW was announced last year I was all in straight away as I'd seen first hand the positive affect that women's sport can have on clubs of all levels, with my local club South Yarra having developed our very first netball team in 2015 (premiership last year in just their second year!)

If you've for the last 3 - 4 months than you'll see multiple WF blogs per week for the most part, the AFLW scheduling was magical to extend the footy season for us footy heads!

Long story short, I;d been toying with the idea of having a completely different section for WF for a month or 2 now and went head first in this time last week and started a private Facebook group called Aussie Rules Women's Football Training.

We're up to 52 members already and have players and coaches from all parts of the world already as part of the group.

We have veteran players and we have 1st year players.

I would like it be the one stop shop for all things Women's Footy where you can ask any question you like be it about games, AFLW, local footy, training, coaching, diet whatever!

It's a closed group so you'll need to get permission from my good self before being allowed to enter but once you do, then please introduce yourself so we can all help and support you in the way you need!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

You Don't Get Better at Footy Training Part 1


I'm probably gonna get some grief for this blog title but hear me out.

It's also probably a bit late to hear this if you've been doing footy training with your team since November/December last year

I don't think you get that much better at footy whole on going to footy training alone.

I went to footy training every night for 10 years and didn't really improve that much, if at all, in the last half of that decade.

Apart from ball skills (and this can be debated as well), at footy training you simply don't optimally train a bunch of qualities/skills - all aspects of the game that can win you games if you have them, or lose them if you do not.

Here are the holes that are often not filled in by footy training alone.

MAX SPEED - maximum can only be developed when you sprint at literally 100%, coupled with complete rest of 2 - 5mins between sets. You should also know that "true" maximum speed can only be held for 2 - 3secs by elite athletes meaning us regular athletes can really only pump this out for 1 - 2secs before we start to slow down. You simply HAVE to do dedicated speed sessions in your own time to train this as the L/A footy training model, not that it can't be changed but I don't think it will be in the bear future, simply tries to get as much volume of work in the 2 - 3 hours a week as you can with little regard for the quality of that work. You should also know that you will not run faster then your 100% during a game because of change of direction, deceleration to acceleration and game play so you can only run at, and improve your 100% speed by training it specifically.

AGILITY - there is a love/hate relationship with agility in L/A footy. You either do a lot of it or none of it it seems. But did you know that agility and change of direction (cod) are 2 completely different things? COD is the mechanics you use to perform the skill and is really what you test during an agility test. Agility is testing your COD, acceleration and deceleration speed along with reaction time as you react to external stimulus just like a game (bouncing ball, opposition etc). Other qualities that make up agility/cod include the lateral sling the lateral chain, force absorption/reduction, force stabilisation/isometric strength and force output. As you can see there is a lot more to agility then you thought which easily shows that you need to develop agility, not necessarily train it. If you use the same agility techniques over and over, and that generally means some cone drills, then I can assure you that there is minimal, if any, improvement occurring. Time yourself and find out for realz.

AEROBIC CAPACITY - AC refers to performing activity that can rely solely on oxygen to be used as fuel. Aerobic means "with oxygen" and anaerobic means "without oxygen" - these are facts. AC is probably what you are referring to when you talk about "base fitness", 'building a foundation" or 'getting some run into the legs" and it's true - endurance is built from your aerobic energy system. I think we all have a fair idea of this is some form or another but what you're probably not aware of is the importance of the "with oxygen" bit. You need to run at such a speed to allow this to happen which is slow. It's pretty slow. In fact it's a lot slower then you think you should be going for most of us. At all times during aerobic capacity training you should be able to talk and breath freely with a light sweat a-happening. If you go harder, when you start to breath heavily and can't sustain conversation, then you are ramping up oxygen delivery, which takes a relatively long time in the body, hence the need for low intensity activity to let it do so. Once you start working to the point where the demand for oxygen far exceeds the speed that the aerobic energy system can deliver it, then you start to enter glycolysis, or the anaerobic zone which is when you start to get out of breathe and slow down. Once you move out of the aerobic energy system then you are no longer training it exclusively which is no good if that was your aim. So if you start like a bull out of a gate, tire pretty quickly but then you can't recover, it's because you've gone directly into glycolysis and once you're there then you're on borrowed time before you blow up completely. By training your body to stay in an aerobic state for longer, you'll be faster for longer as well - if you've taken note of the MAX SPEED point above and made your self faster with dedicated training.

EFFICIENCY - In the last 6 months or so I've realised that most people have skills or qualities in them, they just need to rehearse them more often. With Sarah, we stated  by teaching her body to run again so we did sub-maximal tempo sprints at 90% x 2 - 3/week which improved her speed all on it's own. We didn't get stronger, we didn't improve actual sprinting mechanics and we didn't even do any top speed running - we just practiced near top-speed and let the neurological improvements do their thing. Now that we've introduced max velocity sprints where she's improving each and every session in regards to speed and acceleration. From also improving her running efficiency, she will expend less energy when we start endurance work as well, improving her aerobic capacity indirectly as well. This is called getting the most from the least!

DECISION MAKING - I'm not certain but it seems the more higher up a level of footy you go, the mote small sided games are used which is probably the best way to train game simulated decision making without an actual game with contact. The Sydney Swans do a heap of this and starts with them very early on in the pre-season to get players into game like mindsets as early as possible. At the lower levels of football I assume there is a lot of cone to cone, player to player skill drills that work son the mechanics of the kicking, marking and handballing drills under no pressure is as far removed from a game as you can possibly get. This is OK for pre-Christmas training but of you;re still doing it right now then you can't expected adequate skills and decision making come practice and in-season game time.

EXCEED GAME INTENSITIES/VELOCITIES - As mentioned in the MAX SPEED point, you will not run as fast in any game of football then you can on your own, in a fully non-fatigued state, as per specific sprint training. I've run a 2.20sec flying 20m sprint this off-season bit I won't be running that during a game because I won't have a 20 - 30m unimpeded straight line run up to build into it with, and I'll also have residual fatigue from other bouts of game activity. That's fine though because my mechanical output (sprint training) is so fast, my operational output (game) will also be faster because of it. My 70% speed is way faster then player B who runs a flying 20m in 2.50secs. So by exceeding game speeds during training I am not only going to be faster during the game in it's entirety, but with games come arousal which can push you to levels higher then normal which may result in hitting MAX SPEED, but my muscles have performed contractions of this speeds many times so my injury risk is non existent during them. Player B though gets all aroused to the point where his body thinks it can run the flying 20 in 2.20secs but his muscles cannot and he's torn his hamstring from his bone!

HOMEOSTASIS - every single one of us, has a specific homeostasis point for everything we do which is the level we can do something that has us at our most comfortableness. For example some people can do repeated sets of 20 push ups over and over but increase that to 25 reps and they only get 1 - 2 sets. They pushed beyond their homeostasis point which is exactly what you want to do. Without widening your homeostasis point, you simply never get better but the fear of staying well within your comfort zone is fear of discomfort and possibly a sense of impending failure. So whether it is speed, endurance or kicking skills you must push slightly further away from your baseline over time and gradually widen your homeostasis point. Moving too slow will not induce the necessary adaptation and moving too fast means you build up too much fatigue and then injury risk and other negative implications rear their ugly head. It may also result in your missing vital steps leaving 'performance gaps" in your arsenal.

I might have to do a separate post on the HOMEOSTASIS thing for various qualities in the future, but if you'd like to know more about this then hit me up via the Facebook page comments section and we'll have it out!

Part 2 coming over the weekend that looks at how training and playing can be progressed over time.