Monday, January 16, 2017

Why Your L/A Men's Footy Team Should Train Like AFL Women's Teams Do

Not that I'm not always thinking about optimising training methods for footy, but I really did like the extremely efficient way the Collingwood coaches trained their women the past couple of Fridays I've been down there.

In a 2 hour session they train A LOT more training qualities then L/A men's teams do, even though they are using a shorter build up, and I'd also suggest that most players are coming from a lot further back then 95% of LA men's teams too.

Along with getting their stars up to elite fitness levels, they also are training up girls who have never even played a game of footy before in regards to the skill and physical requirements of AFL football.

Just think back to those training nights where a bloke has turned up from nowhere, having never played footy before, and how bad he was on the training track. He tried his guts out but didn't really make great strides throughout the year, making the same mistakes from lack of skill and lack of "game" knowledge.

This is potentially what the AFLW teams are dealing with to various degrees.

When you're training, your goal should always to get the most from the least and to use the minimum effective dose but unfortunately in L/A footy circles this a ridiculously foreign concept.

The mantra of how much you can do still rules the day at most LA footy clubs but this is seriously flawed.

Seeing how much you can do will ALWAYS result in decreased performance because of the fatigue factor. The longer you try and go at 100%, the faster you'll fatigue, and the more decrease in performance you'll see.

Let's use a few examples:

#1 - You have the a midfielder who can win the ball at will and is a competitive beast. He works himself into the ground every training session and every game but his kicking lets him down regularly. Essentially all his hard work, which is plenty, is undone by his poor skill level. He definitely needs some no-fatigued, specific skill work because he goes so hard everything he does is under fatigue, and fatigue blunts high performance. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

#2 - It's January and time to get "some run in the legs" (where else does it go?) so it's time to do some 400's, and the team heads off together and/or ins small groups. You've got the workhorse from the first example leading the way and lets say he completes his 4 sets of 400's in 60, 65, 68 and 72secs. He was able to maintain something close to the speed of his first set with a drop of less then 20% in times from set 1 to set 4. Not too bad at the L/A level.

You've also got Joe who is the speedster of the team and an explosive machine. For his 4 x 400m he clocks in at 70, 80, 90, 100secs which is a 30% drop in times from set 1 to set 4. Not great, but also look at his absolute time compared to workhourse - 60 to 70secs in the work horses favor. You're basically running the speed out of poor Joe, and thus not being very efficient with his 4hrs of training time a week.

To add to Joe's woes, he WILL NOT recover from these 400's during the actual training session and everything else performed afterwards is compromised. His speed will be decreased and his skill level will drop so what is he really training now? His training how to be slow with bad skills!

Here's a look at what the Collingwood Women did and how you can use what they did to streamline your training whether you're a player or a coach.

- 10mins of partner skill work like most teams do except the weekend chit-chatter and 10m kick on your good foot were replaced by loud voices and opposite side disposal for the most part
- Later on skills were trained within game simulation and under fatigue through the use of small sided games

- Everyone performs the same warm up which again cuts down time as a format to follow always works quicker then thinking it up on the spot. I do our teams warm ups and always provide 30 - 60secs to stretch out what they want to so there's not blokes hanging off to the side doing their own thing when it's "team time." If you have your won stuff you want to do then do it in your own time.

- I bet your team does a lap or 2 at the very start of the session yeah? Not this team - not 1 lap for the entire session! After floor based stretches that move into standing dynamic drills, the ladies went into a simple running drill that gradually increased in pace and distance. It would have taken as long as the 1 - 2 laps you currently do but emphasised far more aspects and specifics of the running action (sprinting mechanics, change of direction, eccentric control to name a few) then that shitty couple of laps with low knee lift going around in circles. The more intensive running also helps to get your players focused on training quicker as well.

- With the team broken into 2 groups (every L/A team should be doing this with potentially 50+ players on the track at this time of the year), half does some resisted sprinting work for speed while the other group does some agility cone work and then they switch. Training efficiency is increased by 50% right there with the 2 groups.

- No cones to cone drill here - just game simulation. Everything from here out is high intensity through the use of small sided games which allows you to train not only game specific conditioning and skills under game type pressure, but most importantly decision making - and decision making under fatigue.

I understand that as L/A teams you will need some drills using he cone to cone action but I suggest implementing chaos games as soon as you can and maybe again splitting the groups up into cone to cone and chaos groups with your starts and regular trainers in the chaos group, and the January/February flyers in the cone to cone group then slowly introduce them to the chaos group until mid Feb when everything is specifically game simulated.

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