Thursday, December 29, 2016

Coaches - Post-Xmas Pre-Season Training Requirements

Team training will start back up in the next 2 to 3 weeks so there's no better time to pop this video up.

Tagging off the pre-xmas video from few months back, it builds on your pre-xmas training through progressions to game speed and simulated training as we eye towards practice games in March.

If you want a fool proof program to follow then give the Untouchable Post-Xmas Pre-Season Training Program for Coaches that lays out all of the energy systems training your players will need at team training up until practice games.

This gives you, the coach plenty of extra time to dedicate to actually coaching in relation to game plans and tactics - what you're actually paid for!

There's even an extra session each week that can be handed to players to do away from the club as well.

If you have any questions let me know over at the Facebook page.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Women's Football Wednesday (on Thursday again!) - AFLW Combine Standards

I did a bit of Googling for AFLW newspaper articles looking for some AFLW Combine results from the open testing from earlier this year.

These are pretty much the standards you must reach to get your foot on the door with recruiters.

- With a list of just 27, you need to durable and well-rounded, but with a "strength" specific to you (speed, endurance, skills etc)

- Durability will be huge with a short list (and already 3 ACL's!), less players on the field, harder grounds and very high temperatures, although game time is limited to 4 x 15min quarters plus time on.

 - Less players on the field means more open space which means speed will be huge and repeat speed even huger (that's a word and you know it!). Open space + speed means you'll have greater time for decision making which should translate to better skills. They found this to be the case after analysing the Bulldogs/Demons game from earlier this year.

- The clubs haven't gone all in with everyone as a lot of players are dual sport athletes at this point, with Adelaide's Anne Hatchard combining AFLW and WNBL (basketball) at the same time, limiting her footy training to 2/week which is a great move to not make players choose sports just yet

- For the 20m sprint test the best results I could fond were Daria Bannister/Hayley Breward 3.29, Calista Boyd 3.21, Georgia Baldwin 3.13, Aimee Ralph 3.23


 - For the beep test the best results I could find were Hayley Breward 11.3, Amy Halaby 11.8, Heather Anderson 14.9, Ange Foley 13.9, Courtney Stanley 12.6, Stephanie Cain 10.7


- For the agility test the best results I could find were Daria Bannister 8.51, Bronte 8.39,  Aimee Ralph 8.94

EDIT - 2017 TAC COMBINE BEST SCORE 8.9secs (but only best I heard)

- For the vertical jump test the best results I could find were Casey Peet and Nadia Harvey 58cms running single leg jump

Now if you don't naturally possess these talents then you need to train them up and as it happens I have 20 in-person (Melbourne) and 20 online spots open to female footballers who want to make their AFL dream happen. I'm looking to kick this off in the next week or 2 so email at or through the Facebook page if you're one of those!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Women's Football Wednesday (on Thursday) - Force Application + Train What the Others Aren't

The amount of force you can exert and how you exert it is pretty much what dictates your level as an athlete.

In almost every sport you can think of, speed is the number 1 factor on whether you make it or not.

Football is no different.

As I discussed briefly in my opening WFW post a week or so back, females are naturally geared towards endurance from having far more slow twitch muscle fibers then man, be able to tap into using far as fuel far more easily (a trait of superior endurance) and not having the muscle mass (engine) to develop as much force.

But what if you could develop more force?

You're naturally geared for endurance and so are the rest of women footballers so maybe the best way to make an impact in an ever growing crowd is through increasing speed.

Last week on my homepage I posted a video of a female client of mine Pam, who after just 3 months of training has already worked her way up to 100kg deadlift training on average 2 times per week.


If I had combined her strength work with sprint work I could guarantee her sprint timed would be improved across the board - they couldn't be once you lifted way over your bodyweight.

You now have a bigger engine to move your current mass with which is what speed is all about in a very simplistic way.

Once you start footy training, if you haven't already, then you'll probably focus on skills and endurance but not a lot of speed work, as is my experience from my 3 million games of football.

The aim of the my Women's Training Program is to train the stuff you don't get to at footy training, making you a complete player.

Increasing strength, thus force application and thus speed is a huge part of this program.

If you can make South Yarra twice a week for in-person training then fill out this form:

If you're an out of towner then the online version might be more your style of which you can fill out this form:

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Women's Football Wednesday (on Monday) - How the AFLW Players are Conditioning Right Now

I'm heading away for Xmas, back for a few days then off again for new years so I'll double up a bit this week to keep you informed over the break while you're sitting around in a post Xmas dinner haze.

For Women's Football Wednesday (on Monday - I hope to do anothery on Wednesday too this week), I wanna take a look at an article on the Brisbane Lions women's team.

It talks mostly about their tough draw but I found interesting some of the comments from their coach Craig Starcevich who states that his players had already exceeded expectations ahead of the season to date.

He is pleasantly surprised at how fast the girls have improved physically and how that has transferred into improvement technically.

He says "some of the things we thought we might have an issue with skill-wise haven't been an issue and the girls are fitter, stronger and more skillful already."

It goes on to say that the Lions have been doing 3 weight sessions, 2 conditioning sessions and 3 skill sessions per week.

Each player will follow individual programs over the Xmas break as well.

I had 4 or 5 years off playing footy but continued to train like I was playing in that time. When I did come back I was technically as good as I was when I finished as my muscles were already conditioned for high speed movements and the type of "performance' based training I did also meant I was able to maintain muscle co-ordination as well.

If I had only 12 weeks to get ready for footy season, like the AFL girls have, then I would definitely be hitting the gym more often then anything else initially, just as the Lions are.

You can't go head first in conditioning if you're body can't do what you want it to do and there's a saying in the training game - "get fit to run, don't run to get fit."

You could go conditioning first but after initial improvements you'll struggle to make more if you're engine doesn't increase it's size.

After Xmas I would assume there will be a lot more game simulation type conditioning work and less strength training as there using a short build up.

For mine, female footballers are in interesting space right now.

For the next couple of years while the talent field is relatively low, if you're  a local/amateur football player then with a precise training regime, you could make HUGE strides in your game and potentially be on an AFL list this time next year. That is not a stretch - I wish I was a female footballer right now myself!

I wouldn't mind getting my hands on few female footballers to train in-person (along side your team training) so if you're in Melbourne and can get to South Yarra 2 times a week for an hour or so, then let me know - I'll be more then interested to help you out.

The full article can be found here.

Friday, December 16, 2016

AFL Victoria Pre-Season Guidelines

These guidelines came out 2 weeks ago but I just came across them today.

There were probably a few articles on this but this is the one that came across my feed:

AFL Victoria's premise is to do light training sessions, have fun and use cross training methods which I'd agree with foe the most part.

The light sessions bit is the interesting part to me.

A "light' session isn't really a good way to describe any footy training session. What is light? Low volume/high intensity? High volume/low intensity? Something in between?

Unfortunately nobody at local/amateur football clubs really knows what this is and the guidelines does little to clear this up.

My main thoughts after reading this are as follows:

- The more training you can complete, the better prepared you will be for the competition period where you can't train as much and thus your level of trainability can decrease at local/amateur (L/A) level, leaving you vulnerable during games.

- I am a huge fan of the fact the author made the point that AFL teams have full-time staff on hand to facilitate recovery which in turn allows a greater training load to be completed - something L/A footballers don't have so if you jump on your AFL teams Youtube channel and find them doing repeat 400's then do not think that's a great idea for you team.

- Doing too little is far better then doing too much, but if you can nail the bit in between you'll be golden. How do you determine "the middle"? Assess your players in a variety (but not a lot of) strength and fitness qualities (speed, aerobic capacity etc) and once they have improved relatively significantly in one category, then maybe it;s time to ease of that specific quality and look to another area for improvement. If you've knocked 30secs off your 3km time trial then you've probably "done enough' and aiming for that extra 10secs could be extra stress that breaks the camel's back.

- As stated, I don't see it as a "clear set of guidelines" - they are extremely general which doesn't really help anyone as teams will take the generalness of the guideline s and simply run with them how they want, essentially what happens already.

- AFL has specific coaches for everything and we don't but hey, this is why my blog exists so I can fill that need so let me know if you need some assistance.

- I cannot agree with the statement by AFL Victoria that "there is little benefit in a significant pre-Christmas block." Yes it needs to be done correctly but if it is, then a solid pre-Christmas block can be one of the best thing you can do as a football team. You don't have any other conflicts of energy requirements (games can kill training intensity during the season) and you already know that you have a break coming up so you can push slightly further knowing that you will have ample recovery for 2 weeks or so. My belief would be that if you did complete a solid pre-Christmas, then it shows that you are committed to the coming season and I can see you doing some training over the Christmas break so as not to render the last 4 - 6 weeks useless. BUT, go back to my original statement at the start of this point - if it's done correctly.

- Football clubs and their coaches do have a responsibility to their players who after training, need to go home and be fathers and mother's, who need to get up ans go to work 5 - 6 days a week as well which you can't do with a torn hamstring or extreme soreness that renders you next to useless. More is not better. Coaches probably need to find ways to train divide their players into groups and train them at their specific levels. The poor bloke who rocks up for his first training session at the start of Feb should not be doing what the main group does in regards to fitness work - not even close to.

The guidelines can be found here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Inaugural Women's Football Wednesday


What A Girl Wants, What A Girl Needs...

Women’s footy is almost here and I really think it will be extremely entertaining and I’ll take my 6yr old son to a bunch of games for sure.

Even with the game will be ever slightly, hybrid with 16 players per team on the park at once compared to 18 a team in the men’s comp, this allows for the game to be more open, less congested and possibly a better “watching” product with high skill level being able to be displayed with more area to work in without pressure.

It's a great time to be an aspiring Women's AFL footballer. With the league in it's infancy, and a wanting to expand as quick as possible, there will never be more playing list availabilities as there is right now and with the right training methods and development, you could be on an AFL list this time next year!

Needs Analysis for the Female Footballer

Women athletes have a specific set of requirements that need to be addressed.

At the very top of the list is the need to PERFECT deceleration mechanics, and I mean PERFECT them so you don’t even need to think about them.

Deceleration mechanics refers to slowing down and stopping or changing direction.

It’s no secret that female athletes can be up to 5 x more likely to tear an anterior cruciate ligament in the knee then a male for a variety of reasons including:

  • Having a narrower space in the knee for the ACL to pass through
  • The actual ACL is smaller and thus weaker in women
  • Females have a wider hips resulting in an acute Q angle which is the angle from you’re the most lateral part of your hips to the your lateral knee which presents as knock knees which exasperates internal rotation (falls inwards) upon landing or changing direction putting all sorts of pressure on the knee joint itself
  • Women tend to have more flexibility to their connective tissue and their muscle tissue is also more elastic than males which can lead to excessive movement and thus a slower contraction time leaving you vulnerable during high velocity movements
  • General weaker muscles of the body are the glutes, hamstrings and upper back and obviously this gets worse with females as they are naturally relatively weaker than men as far as physical strength is concerned. During AFL footy, acceleration and deceleration is a primary function of the glutes, hamstrings and quads. Non-surprisingly women are quad dominant in most cases too so again, females are vulnerable if the correct strength training hasn’t been performed.
  • In a single menstrual cycle there are times when you’re connective is strong and times when it is extremely weak so training loads need to correlate with your cycle.
  • Poor landing, deceleration an change of direction mechanics
  • A runner’s build for a female is small boobs and a small waist so if you’re not gifted in those stakes then maybe try alternate forms of conditioning to ease impact and joint stress at various times of the season
Built for Endurance

Females, although not as strong in a relative sense compared to men, do have something up on us blokes and that’s endurance. Women have a far higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibres which provides them with far greater relative endurance then men.

Female advantages leading to greater relative endurance includes:
  • They have a higher 5 of fat meaning they can power their cells for longer from reserves without the need for replenishment so you can go harder for longer before blowing up
  • Because their power output is lower compared to males it means they don’t hit glycolytic pathways (hit the wall) as easy or as often as men meaning you can burn more fat for fuel during activity and you can prolong the time it takes to hit your anaerobic threshold which interchange bench time
  • Will recover far better from high intensity exercise then men again because extremely high power outputs cannot be reached in most cases so recover occurs quicker
  • Their muscles can contain as much force as men but because their muscle mass is far lower, the actual output is lower
  • Can perform more reps a given % of load then men so where a bloke might get 5 reps at 85% of max load, females might get 7 – 8
  • The one disadvantage is that up to 80% of females can have clinical anemia which means you have less iron and thus oxygen in your blood which can affect mood and energy output.

As a personal trainer I have trained females for over 10 years and I probably like to train dedicated females the best as their potential for improvement and growth is ridonkulous!

Over my years of personal training, this is what I have found and see if any of these ring a bell:
  • They require more intensity with their training because as alluded to above they are already blessed with pretty good natural endurance.
  • They love, love, love positive enforcement
  • They require a lot of stability based work at the “core” to learn how to safely control the high forces that go there during footy training and games.
  • Always underestimate their strength and where it can get to
  • Might not do much free weight training because they don’t know how to
  • Will tend to not increase training load until instructed to
  • Train “too fast” so will need rest periods reinforced constantly
  • More is not better, better is better
  • Don’t sweat as much
  • Will be more successful with multiple rep personal bests rather single rep (3 rep max over 1 rep max)
Body Composition

We all have different body shapes, which leads to different body fat storage patterns but females take this to a different level than men.

Body Composition is critical to elite performance but is too often overlooked at the local/amateur level but you’ll see the players with better body composition will generally be your fittest and most injury resilient players.

Here some points on getting that elite body for football, specific to women:
  • Blood sugar imbalances can increase testosterone which can make it impossible to lose fat
  • Adrenal and gut dysfunction will affect blood sugar levels
  • The rate of fat or weight loss will be slower than men simply because you have less overall mass. It’s easier to lose 10kgs off 100kgs then 5 of 50.
  • Tend to lose body fat from top to bottom
  • Have less vascularisation in the lower body as less blood vessels + lower fat stores = harder to mobilize fatty acids
  • Need more training volume and thus energy expenditure because of higher fat levels to lose fat
  • Can’t restrict calories as much as men as you still need a minimum of calories so again you’ll need to look at energy expenditure for the most part.
  • Respond better to low carb then men which is great for insulin and thus blood sugar levels down but they can also be more sensitive to low carb as your body is programmed to maintain body fat for reproduction.
These aren’t knocks but rather points to consider when developing a training program for the female footballer.

I’ll be getting far deeper into these topics and more over the weeks leading into the AFL Women’s season so if you’re a female footballer gunning for the AFL for season 2018 then you can sign up to the Aussie Rules Training Weekly Newsletter that goes out every Monday with plenty of goodies in it!

If you have any specific questions on training for footy then head over to the Facebook page, Like and I'll get back to you on the same day pretty much.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Max Aerobic Speed - The Case Against (article)

Last week we did an introduction to Max Aerobic Speed and How to Use It.

The main points were;

- AFL, VFL and TAC all use it to help min prescribing running loads

- It allows you to pre-determine how far needs to be covered in a specific time frame

- 120% of Max Aerobic Speed is the single best interval to use

Today we'll take a look at an article written by the highly regarded rugby strength coach Keir Wenham-Flatt of funny enough, called 9 Reasons I Don't Like Max Aerobic Speed Part 1 and Part 2.

It had quite an influence on me - so much that I had to do this:

My biggest takeaways from the 2 piece article was:

- The goal of energy systems development should to be able the highest intensity efforts possible repeated with the greatest frequency possible which means step #1 - increase your speed then step #2 - repeat that speed throughout a game of footy. MAS trains you to increase the effort of your sub-maximal efforts which means you're training right in the dreaded "middle".

- To maintain power outputs during repeated efforts you need to train at, or just below your lactate threshold but MAS will push you way above that. The higher your lactate threshold then the greater your aerobic capacity and then the longer you can sustain higher power outputs.

- Once you go OVER your lactate threshold, you blow up, so the longer you can stay away from that point, the better. You can dip into a little to take up the slack of the aerobic and alactic energy systems but then you're on the way down as far as high outputs are concerned  because now fatigue has popped his head up and is now increasing with every high intensity effort you so recovery becomes compromised.

- Endurance athletes train with extremely high volumes but also at a low intensity with moderate volume dedicated to high intensity efforts but MAS trains low volumes for short durations with most of it being moderate to high intensity work. Getting back to the dreaded "middle" this means that you are training too slow to get faster from, but too fast to get aerobic benefits from as fatigue builds up.

- Even at 120 - 130% MAS you will need develop velocities to develop speed so you'll only improve MAS with MAS training making it somewhat inefficient.

- If you do perform training "in the middle" then you do it on your high days as it impairs recovery but then it must replace current high intensity work which is far from desirable.

Off the back of this article as well as the many readings of Joel Jamieson, they both had a huge influence in my programming of plenty of aerobic capacity work in my own training as well as my programs on top of sprint work performed at 100% intensity which is point number  from above in a nutshell.

Most local/amateur football clubs unfortunately train "in the middle" more then anything else which then results in slower sprinting speeds, longer recovery times between bouts of intensity, training and games as well as less skillful players who rarely get to practice skills in a totally non-fatigued state.

As I said in last week's blog I would still use some MAS during the in-season as it is time efficient, it would be sparingly and you can make the players work to their level as they have targets to hit.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Max Aerobic Speed and How to Use It

Let me introduce you to max aerobic speed (MAS) which I have referred to as some point on this blog before.

MAS is used by many elite teams, including AFL that uses a measurement of the meters per second (m/s) you cover in a distance run or time trial.

Say you covered 2kms in 8mins 36secs.

8:36mins = 516secs

2000m / 516 = 3.88m/s

So what you can with this figure is to set specific distance targets for time based on every players score.

World renown strength coach Dan Baker, an Aussie, has found through his research on a shitload of elite athletes that the amount of time spent above 100% of MAS appears to be a critical factor for improving aerobic power.

He sees that performing a number of short intervals at a faster pace is more effective of building aerobic power then traditional long slow distance training or attempting to train only 1 interval continuously at 100% MAS.

He also determined that specifically an intensity of 120% MAS is the single best speed for short intervals that are followed by a short respite (passive rest) intervals as this method increases training density and quality compared to 90, 100 and 140% MAS.

AFL players cover 5m/s during games and for every second an AFL player was behind in the MAS test, they reported that team tactical sessions were harder by .2 rate of perceived exertion (RPE). This doesn't sound much until you realise that this means that if you are 10secs behind then a session for someone "at the level' would class as a 6/10 RPE will feel like an 8 to you and you won't be able to handle the same volumes and intensities as they can without fatigue, decreased performance output or even injury.

So our player above with the MAS score of 3.88 would need to perform his MAS sets at 4.65m/s.

For a 15 second set that would mean he'd need to cover 70m.

Dan Baker is a gem and he has heaps of stuff to read on the internet and even though he's done more NRL then anything, he still has some AFL gems in his writings:

- Players will cover 14kms/game
- Use a 6min or 2km (5 - 7min) run for testing
- During games go hard x 5 - 7mins, go off ans come back on
- Can cover 129 - 147 meters per minute (m/m) on the ground compared to soccer which is 110
- Can hold game speeds of 145m/m x 5 - 7mins but then it drops 25m for each successive minute they stay out there

He also goes onto to say that if you can cover 1600m in 5mins then you don't really need MAS work.

I have implemented MAS into the In-Season Coaches Training Manual for it's simplicity and efficiency - both high requirements during the season when energy resources and training time are at a premium.

Next week - the case against MAS.

Friday, December 2, 2016

T Agility Drill

I like to use the T Agility test purely for it's simplicity.

It entails all the main change of directional moves such as linear deceleration/acceleration, a change of direction on both left and right sides as well as deceleration/acceleration on both sides.

It also only requires 4 cones.

Here it is in video form:

For blokes look at these times:

Poor - 11.5secs or more

Average - 10.5 to 11.5secs

Above Average - 9.5 - 10.5secs

Excellent - 9.5secs or less

For females look at these times:

Poor - 12.5secs or more

Average - 11.5 to 12.5secs

Above Average - 10.5 - 11.5secs

Excellent - 10.5secs or less

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Aussie Rules Training Goal Kicking Competition Week 3

Can improve upon last week;s score of 0?

Week 3's set shot is the same position, 40m out and 10m in from the boundary, but on the opposite side of the ground so your kicking foot is facing the middle of the ground.

Last week i think I said I'd start having some practice shots before doing the video but I'm always jammed for time doing this so again I;m out of the car and into it within 2mins - and it shows!

Anyway here are my efforts:

OK so not bad, butt after a 0 last week I needed a 6 or 7.

My 3 points this weeks takes me to 6 out of 21 points so far - pretty shit for a 3 time club goal kicking champion!

Must be a pressure performer...