Friday, July 27, 2012

An Email Exchange RE: Off Season Training

I usually have a handful of emails each week from footballers all over world in regards to training and all it entails. This week i received who had a foot injury this year. He is back playing now but missed a huge chunk of the season so naturally he's already gearing up for a huge 2013.

He inquired about off season training and this is our exchange of emails in regards to various components of training for Aussie Rules Football. This is totally unedited so it might not read real well but will still give you some idea's and hopefully actually make you think about how you train yourself for footy and just in general.

Hey Mate,
John (not his real name) here,
Do you have any programs for the off season?

For weights (3 -4 days a week) I was thinking something with 3 cycles...Hypertrophy, Stregnth and then a Strength Conversion stage as well..each going for 6-8 weeks..
Then agility and speed work would be 3 days a week also..(various speed drills for about 20 mins).
Did u end up finishing any programs?
(Please see my new email attached also)

I did a 5 month program last year with some blokes that went well and this year I'll open up a training program for footy players again...i'll hopefully get a bunch of blokes from my club as well a few ring ins hopefully to do some training 2 - 3/week in the studio and we might also do some other stuff outside, depending on what i have tie to do and such

i have a program i'll be doing on my own this year though, last year i did the program the others did

cycles can work but you run the risk of strength falling away in the hypertrophy phase, and hypertrophy falling away in the strength conversion phase etc - you can't just train it and leave it

i'll be doing a heap of off season stuff on the blog in a few weeks time 

so which email is your new one? and how's the foot?

This is my email that i am using from now on.
If you would like to trial some programs I would love to get a copy and run it...?
I do understand that being specific to the cycle the other factors may suffer a little, but with proper nutrition and the right order i think it would work out...Here is a basic weights progam that i have come up with...
Recovery/Basic Strength
Recovery/Basic Strength
8 weeks
Max Strength
8 weeks
Convert to Power
8 weeks
Maintain Strength
Foot is all better now and have played 5 matches now...The first two i was playing CHB, but didnt really fit well...
The last three matches I have been moved to CHF...and loving it. 
Over the off season I want to get really fast (agility and speed wise) so im going to focus a lot on ladder work, hurdles, etc etc.
I have also attached a small extract from a training manual i want to work at...

the program can work but i'd do things differently myself

i think a little rethinking might help:

step 1 - what do you NEED to improve the most?
step 2 - how will you do that?
step 3 - how much time will it take?

you might not need an 8 week hypertrophy phase, you might only need 4 weeks etc - you're doing for the training for you so it's gotta fit'll want to go into in season mode once practice matches start too which will cut your blocks down a few weeks and generally smaller blocks are better then long one's so you might go

maybe something like this:

sep - goal 1: hypertrophy / goal 2: strength foundation (depends what you need most)
oct - goal 1: strength / goal 2: hypertrophy
nov - goal 1: strength / goal 2: explosiveness
dec - goal 1: strength / goal 2: hypertrophy
jan - goal 1: explosiveness / goal 2 - strength
feb - goal 1: explosiveness / goal 2: strength
mar - in season mode

there's a million ways you could do this but it comes down to what you need to get better (why do you have to actually get bigger? how will it improve your game?) and then focus on that the most and bring the other goals up bit by bit over the off season

i might use this as a blog post...

Hmmm very interesting....You're actually correct, I dont want to get that much bigger, Just looking to start usng my size a lot more effectively...
Therefore what you've suggested is actually more applicable at this stage IMO. 4 weeks initially will be the go, then do my strength stuff
My strength levels arent too bad ATM, I would love to work on explosiveness and conversion of strength into functional ability.
When working on explosiveness, Do you have any explosiveness workouts that could work 3 times a week? or is it all just about using <50% 1RM, but really fast?
Other than that, i need to bust my ass and work on my agility/running...Twice a week initially but work up to 3-4 times a week during the off season..

Yeah for sure, go for the blog post based on this stuff...its a good time to bring it out IMO.

the dynamic work (50% stuff) is good for developing explosiveness and teaching acceleration for the actual lifts but i'm not totally convinced for transferring gym to the playing ball throws are a better option as it actually leaves your hands which is more sport specific

agility is a by product of strength, no cones or ladders will help for actual agility - the more force you can absorb force going into a turn and the quicker you can turn that decelerative force into accelerative force (i.e change of direction) the faster you'll be in a linear or lateral fashion

that's what's my new program will be about and i'll be dropping a blog post on it later this week or early next week

what sort of "running' do you need? if your chf then long runs shouldn't be too much of your training - more lead up, double back and sprint back sort of stuff

Ahh ok...would be interested to see what a training program outside of the season would look like for u..I would love to work on some explosive lifting..jump squats, bench press throws etc...

By agility I mean to be running and stopping and switching directions and taking off wit the best possible speed I can...

Correct the running I need is explosive over 20-30m so if I were looking to improve that i could find a bunch of American resources to help increase the '40 yard dash' which I believe is a very popular bench mark with football players in the states..

Still searching for programs with intensities, percent of maxes, reps and sets to use...but what I sent in that last email will probly form most of what I do...

when training for the 40, the nfl players do most of the work over 10 - 20m so that's not exactly what you want - it's pretty technique based...yes explosiveness off the mark is what you need but you also need to be able to do it repeated and for longer

True, endurance would be needed also...
This is my plan moving forward on the offseason:
Mon - Speed & Agility (am) / Core & Flexibility  (pm)
Tues - Weights (am) / Skills & Footy Training (pm)
Wed - Weights (am) /
Thur - Speed & Agility (am) / Core & Flexibility (pm)
Fri - Weights (am) / Skills & Footy Training  (pm)
Sat -  Weights (am) / Endurance (pm)
Sun - OFF

Loving the3 commitment of 11 sessions a week but how do you progress on 11 sessions? 12? 13? And I'd be cautious of demanding too much of your foot in sep/oct too - you'll still have some massive compensations that will make something go twang if the foot doesn't

Like I said, there's a million ways to go about these things but some ways just make more sense, are ore efficient and sustainable.

I'm a big fan of efficiently and of getting the most from the least so i'd never do 11 sessions a week (i suppose i do 7 now and it's in season...) but a lot of your stuff will carry over from 1 session to the next meaning recovery will be an issue

speed and agility is a by product of strength (wts) so they can be trained at the same time pretty efficiently

core and flexibility can also be trained in the gym

so maybe set your days up like this, you can do most of it in the gym:

day 1

warm up - foam rolling, mobility, activation etc (10mins)
speed/quickness/jump work x 2 exercises (5mins - also used as nervous system primer)
lower strength exercise paired w/ plyo paired with core paired with flexibility exercise x 1 each
assistance upper exercise x 2 paired with core paired with flexibility exercise x 1 each

day 2 is the same but do upper strength exercise with the other paired stuff then a lower body assistance exercise with the paired stuff

getting stronger on it's own will make you faster but it helps to keep sprinting too so on the other days do 10, 20 and 40m sprints at about 80% but don't exceed 150 total meters on any given day

mon - gym 
tue - sprints
wed - gym
thu - off
fri - gym
sat - sprints
sun - off

that's your basic foundation phase then things would move around as you go through the off season

i just don't think 11 sessions in oct is required...yet

True, efficiency is the go..I will couple the flexibility and core stuff with the speed and agility to minimise the time that i am spending in the gym.  I start work at a gym next week however so I will have no issue spending time in the gym.

when i say speed and agilty i mean being able to increase my speed over a short period..(with ladder work, running technique and various running drills).
So while its all good saying I can deadlift 180kg...that has little carry over to football, right? (or is it a case of as i get stronger the 140kg will fly up a lot quicker?  so its all relative..)
with the sprinting, why wouldnt you be going 100% at times?  and 150M total seems a little short no?  eg 10 x 20M sprints is already 200M an over the 150 mark...?
PS Would love it if you could add this email address to your mailing list

ladder work makes you better at ladder work - when do you ever take steps like that ever? you don' can be useful for a nervous system warm up though but that's about it

if you can't express your 180kgs on the ground then it's not doing as much for you as it could

you can't start at 100%, you need room to progress - over the months the total distance would increase but at the start focus on technique which you won't do covering ore distance at a faster speed

Ladder work is great for speed and agility work..

never take advice from a sales can small quick steps make you faster?

True man....

But I've been lifting weights for 3 years now, and I'm still slowish...

I want to get quicker around corners, faster braking, pulling away from opponents quicker etc..and I don't see how just running in a straight line will help..

I want to set up cones and run various drills, run backwards, hill sprints, ladder work, etc..

I am big, but I need to convert that to speed and power/explosiveness..

i mentioned this in an earlier email...

changing direction is 3 parts muscle contraction:

1 - deceleration (slowing down)
2 - isometric (the turnaround from one way to the other)
3 - acceleration (speeding up)

Deceleration required great eccentric strength to stop your self as quick as you can.

Isometric strength then allows you to stabilise yourself and waste as little energy as possible as you change direction.

Acceleration requires great starting strength, especially from the posterior chain (glutes/hams)

If you're not great at turning corners as it is, then simply practicing running corners with far from adequate deceleration, isometric and/or acceleration strength will only have reinforce your slow and wide turning circles.

So in the weight room you need to work on eccentric strength, isometric strength and then peak concentric strength.

That is how you get fast AND agile and is the basis of the program that I'll be doing on my own from Sep onwards, I won't have my group do it as you need to be somewhat experienced to eb able to do it. 

Here's what I just posted on the blog:

There's a fair bit in all these emails so if you have any questions on any of it then shoot them through to me. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Triphasic Training

In September I’ll be breaking into my off season training from a new program on the market called Triphasic Training. It’s all about this graph:

Basically the bloke had 2 athletes (shot putters) who could bench press the same (directly correlates to shot putting distance) and were the same weight but one could throw a shot load further then the other and he wondered why that was.

He got some force plates and measured their force output and came up with this graph.

Triphasic refers to there being 3 contractions – eccentric (the line when it goes down), isometric  (where it meets at the bottom) and concentric (where it goes up) – with each playing an important role in performance and the need for them to be developed equally to improve total power output.

The guy with the greater shot put is blue.

Now comparing the eccentric, the blue guy has a quicker contraction then red guy (4.6 – 4.8secs)

For the isometric, the blue guy has a far quicker turnaround the red guy (the lowest point)

For the concentric, the blue guy has a greater output then the red guy (4.5 – 4.8secs)

So essentially the athlete who can absorb force the quickest (eccentric), turn that force into strength the quickest (isometric) will have a greater output (concentric).

I’ll dive more into this in the coming weeks and if you have any questions on it, just shoot them through to 

The book can be purchased from this link:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You Can Still Improve This Season

It’s now July and we’re pretty smack bang in the middle of the season. The weather has really taken a turn for the worse down here in Melbourne which can really have a big effect on training numbers and thus team performance.

We don’t rest on our laurels down here at Aussie Rules Training so here’s some tips on how you can still end up being a better player by the end of this season, even if you started late, had an injury or just couldn’t get near it.

Sprint to the Hat
You hear it every training session but I bet you never do it. Sprinting right through to the hat, especially during full ground drills teaches to push up and get to the next contest. It enables you to get more touches during training and a game and if your fitness is a little behind for any reason, it’s a no brainer then.

Run Your Arse Off During Games
There is no replicating game running at training no matter how hard you try. The unpredictability of a game versus training (kick to this cone who marks and handballs to this bloke) is what sets this type of running apart. Training drills only go forwards and there’s no turning back for a turn over or missed possession. Back in 2009 I couldn’t train and got my only fix from a game so I made sure I ran as much as I could during them even if meant I had to drag myself for a breather. It’s not like you’ll never get back on and if you can’t breathe then what value are you on the ground then really?

So run those wings, run for no reward and run just to keep your opponent guessing and moving, especially in the forward line. As a backman there’s nothing better than a forward who just stands there because you know exactly where the ball is coming from and where it’s going to be kicked to next.

Get In Early and Leave Late
The difference between a B grade and A grade player is work rate. More times than not they’ll have similar traits in regards to fitness and ball getting abilities but it is he that does more work that will excel. I think we have all heard the Gary Ablett Jr story from 2005 or 2006 where his teammates told him he didn’t work hard enough and he could be anything and now he’s getting 40 touches a game. And he got it all from improved work rate.

So do an extra session during the week. Get to training early and get some skill work in. Stay late and get some tempo runs in. You will not be a lesser player for doing it but the pay offs can be great.

Don’t Wait For Your Turn at Training
During drills, don’t wait for your turn. Just be an extra runner with who is about to go and chances are you’ll get a handball or a touch from a missed kick or mark. The one’s that wait back can wait their turn and that’s probably what they do Saturdays. Be in every drill all the time.

Try Things You Can’t Do
Can you kick opposite foot? Can you handball opposite hand? More importantly when you are on your opposite side at training, do you try and use it or do you square up and get on your good side?

Unfortunately during a game you don’t have this luxury of time so why not practice it in a pressure free environment at training. It’s better than looking ordinary from getting a holding the ball during a game that results in a game. It’s actually amazing how many AFL players can’t kick on their opposite side really.

Other things you can try are stab passes keeping the ball low, kicking after 2 or 3 steps, handballing out in front so the player doesn’t have to rotate or over stretch to get the ball and marking out in front with 1 grab.

Ask Your Coach What He Wants You to Improve On
There’s nothing like some tough love and honesty! Your coach will not give you a barrelling for asking this question and your standing with him actually increase because no one is asking this question. They’re happy just making the same mistakes every week.

If you’re not clear on what he wants then ask for clarification and maybe to show you some examples of what he wants you to do.

Progress Your Kicking and Marking
The point of training is to try and improve your game. What I see a lot of at footy clubs is the same blokes making the same mistakes over and over again, especially with basic skills such as kicking and marking.

They are easy skills to perform as we've been doing the since we first picked up a footy, but why are some blokes better then others? Because the train with purpose and that purpose is to try and train under game situations in regards to speed and quality of execution.

At training it's pretty easy to do a slow to medium lead and just let the ball fall into your hands for a chest mark and it's also pretty easy to just jog into a kick and pop on top of the other guys head because there is no body chasing you as you kick and there is no one around to spoil your teammate as he goes for the mark.

Fast forward to a Saturday and you're caught with the ball before you even know you had it and whatever kicks you do have are not effective and pretty much set up the opposition's run back into the half of the ground.

By progressing your kicking and marking at training, you can inject a bit of game simulated training. Now I understand that we aren't all Nathan Buckley-like kicks or Travis Cloke-type marks (and I'm not even a Collingwood supporter) and constantly trying to do the 50m spear pass that doesn't reach higher then a meter off the ground can result in some pretty dodgy kicks which can decrease the overall team training quality and it can also wreck havoc with your confidence so try these progressions for kicking and marking at your next training session.


Progression 1 - run at about 50% keeping the flight of the ball relatively low to the distance you need to kick and use about 70% of your kicking power. Repeat this progression on your next kick. If both kicks are successful then move to progression 2.

Progression 2 - run at about 65% keeping the flight of the ball relatively low to the distance you need to kick and use about 80% of your kicking power. Repeat this progression on your next kick. If both kicks are successful then move to progression 2.

Progression 3 - run at about 80% keep the ball relatively low to the distance you need to kick and use about 90% of your kicking power. Repeat this progression on your next kick. If both kicks are successful then move to progression 2.

Progression 4 -  run at about 95% keep the flight of the ball relatively low to the distance you need to kick and use about 100% of your kicking power. 


Progression 1 - lead up at about 70% and mark the ball on your chest.

Progression 2 - lead up at about 80% and mark the ball in your hands with bent arms.

Progression 3 - lead up at about 90% and mark the ball in your hands with straight arms.

Progression 4 - lead up at 100% and mark the ball in your hands with straight arms.

For both skills, only progress once you perform and complete each skill 2 times in a row. If you progress to a higher level skill and you miss the first attempt then try again. If you fail again then drop back to the previous progression and get your confidence going again and try again.

Obviously these can be subject to who's kicking to you and who you're kicking too but it will hold true for the most part.

Actually implementing these will improve your performance and while everyone is slowing down form a tough season, you’ll only be getting better.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Running Style or Weakness?

A mate of mine sent this through me last night on the injury woes of Josh Drummond:

Now being a fellow booing left footer myself, I love Josh Drummond but to say his running style is what breaks him down is part of the equation, not all of it.

Cyril Rioli had a similar problem last year which I posted on here: 

It says in the article “ Collingwood's Ben Reid recently, Drummond's gait had been assessed in search of the source of the constant tearing in his legs. ''A lot of that comes down to technique and the biomechanics of how you run,'' he says. ''I've known for a while that I haven't got a great running style, and I've worked very hard on my Pilates, getting my core strong and my running technique [right] to minimise the risk of … injury...''

But what is causing the biomechanics of his running style? A lack of Pilates? I think not.

The first place to look at is his hips. Do they sit in the correct position from a front view? Do they sit in the correct position from a side view?

Next lie down and do a quick leg and arm length assessment? Do his hands and feet of the same length as each other? If not what is the correlation from top to bottom?

From that quick evaluation you can test his glutes and core. Do the glutes activate at the right time? Is the core strong enough to transfer forces through the body?

From there you can go even further looking ankle and hip mobility and even thoracic spine and glenohumeral mobility and scapula stability.

As you can see, when there is an injury present in the body then everything must shift to compensate and put the strongest muscle in an advantageous position to do the work required, regardless if is optimal for function.

This is why soft tissue injuries should be minimal at the elite level because the strength and conditioning staff have complete control over it. If someone is not ready to go, then give them another week.

If you do have an injury and you go for treatment and they only treat the site of the injury, than get a new treatment person because the injury site is just where everything broke down, it’s usually not the actual problem.