Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Must-Have Qualities of a Women's Footballer

Last Sunday I went along to the VFL Women's game between Melbourne Uni who are affiliated with North Melbourne and the all conquering Darebin Falcons, the powerhouse of local women's football in Melbourne for as long as I've known it existed.

Both teams are heavily represented in the AFLW so for Darebin we were basically looking at their reserves team but Melb Uni further affiliated with Tasmania for this game specifically and had half and half of their reserves team and Tassie's best young female footballers.

I've never seen a game of local women's footy so I wanted to get a look at what 'the rest" of the players looked like, game style, skill level etc.

I especially wanted to see the differences between the good local players and the elite AFLW players.

After watching most of the AFLW games and then this game this is what I saw as the major differences in no particular order.


The elite AFLW players like Daisy Pearce, Emma Kearney and Brianna Davey all have extremely clean hands when the ball is on the ground.

They all regularly pick the ball up in 1 go and they can easily "handball on the up" with accuracy.

They can do both of these skills in contested and uncontested conditions, can do it on either side of the body and most importantly they can do it at speed, and without having to slow down to have more time to do it.

I say this all the time but football is a game of a million races - the fastest wins.


This stood out to me in the local game in that the women would go into the contest, provide 1 effort and then that would be it.

In the AFLW you have players like Emma Zielke who have 2, 3 and 4 efforts in a single passage of play, applying constant pressure to the opposition at all times.

This is pretty much how the Brisbane Lions have remained unbeaten, they're effort never drops and it results in turnovers leading to them being able to score off the transition from those turnovers.


AFL is a physical game, I'm not breaking new ground there I don't think.

But the physicality I'm talking about is about handling contact with out without the ball and still being effective, which piggy backs off the last point a little bit.

Emma Kearney have the strength, speed and aggression to break out of packs and burst into open space.

Daisy Pearce is a Sam Mitchell clone where she gets the ball off the ground in pack situations and while being pressured, can get handballs out that hits targets every time.

Brianna Davey is a bit of both as she has speed, strength and smarts.

These players can make something out of nothing in contested situation, which as we have seen is very prevalent in AFLW at the moment, and is a rare but talent, but maybe the best one to have right now.


Katie McCarthy - that is all!

In the last 2 weeks she has kicked goals purely off the back of speed.

I sat down for 30mins and worked out her splits I was that impressed with that long goal from 2 weekends ago!

It does help that she runs 100m in 12secs but speed can be improved, and at a decent rate too, as I've proved with my current women footballers I'm training at the moment, Sarah and Anna.

I rate speed as the number 1 quality to build, to train, to possess for all team sports - behind skills obviously - and she has it in spades.

What impresses me the most about Katie Mac is that she uses it to her advantage as good as she does.

In that game above she had just 3 possessions for the game = 3 kicks - but 2 goals...2 long running goals where she burnt off her opposition to run into open goals.

When goals are hard to come by and you want to kick them when you can, then running to the goal line and attempting to score from there is probably what you want isn't it?

It's one thing to possess a game changing strength, it's another thing completely to be able to use to change actual games.

Testing wise, over 20m from a standing start, a test for acceleration, 3.13secs was the 4th best at all the AFLW talent days last year by Georgia Baldwin from Tasmania so there's a time to aim for.

A good enough range would be 3.30 - 3.50secs.

I also like a max velocity score too so I train my female players over a flying 20m which Anna has posted a blistering 2.75secs.

From the image above you can see I had Katie Mac clocked at 2.93secs for a flying 20m (with the ball), but it was hard to judge the splits so they're not a million % accurate.

Now if you don't naturally possess these talents then you need to train them up and as it happens I still have 7 spots open to female footballers who want to make their AFLW dream happen. 

The sessions that we can do in-person if you;re local or online if you're not, focus on what you don't train at footy training and also works around your footy training for minimal interference with that, as it's the most important aspect of all your training.

In 4 - 6 weeks I can't see how a drop in half a second off your flying 20m, a quarter of a second off your standing 20m and also a few beats decreased from your resting heart rate (increasing aerobic capacity/endurance) can't happen.

Email at, pm through the Facebook page or go right ahead in fill in the application form if you want those results before the season starts.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Random Training Thoughts Part 1 (Article)

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


- Patty Dangerfield, Dylan Shiel

The article can be found here.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Local Footy Gems from AFL/TAC S&C Coach's Burgo and Matty Part 8/9

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



No, not for me.

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


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

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


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

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


Yes and no.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Women's Football - 18 Thoughts on AFLW So Far

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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

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



I wouldn't really.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Here's what I monitor every single day:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 20, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a downer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me know your women's football story at

Sunday, February 19, 2017

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

Click for part #1#2#3, #4 and #5.



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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sarah Andrews Training Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Local Footy Games from AFL/TAC Fitness Coaches Burgo and Matty Part 5/9

Part #1, #2, #3 and #4.



At Port Adelaide of it would be determined by objective measures like GPS.

It would also be dependent on the time of the season, previous and future opposition as well as player wellness scores.

At PAFC, how do you decide running load/interval specifics in regards to volume per session/week, rest periods (heart rate or time based), drop off points for output etc?


At the Bushrangers we are lucky in a sense that we have some GPS units and we have some historical data so I can set a framework of "OK, we have 15kms to cover in 2 sessions, the coach wants x, y and z, we know certain drills give us x amount of meters so what else do we need to get the loads that we want?"

We will usually have one longer session with more total meters and more craft work then another shorter session with more high speed meters to give the players training variety.

We generally will go up in volume for 3 weeks then deload them.

Our rest periods within the drill will be dependent on the energy system we are targeting and between drills something I'm big on is getting all groups (we can have 5 groups of 10 players each) finishing at the same time, getting their break, then getting straight out and increasing the density of the session rather then letting them finish whenever the coaches feel like it and potentially having 1 group standing around for 5 minutes.


Yep, I completely understand what you;re saying but you won't any text anywhere that someone will put their arse on the line for and say "all you need to do is follow exact numbers and you'll be right" because 1 - what works for them won't work for you and 2 - people are protective of their IP. 

It's much easier  to talk in broad terms and avoid any kickbacks.

I think there could be (and should be), better guidelines for L/A coaches but I know they cover some basic stuff at he Level 2 and 3 coaching courses.

The easiest way without technology to is to use Fosters (RPE x Duration / 90min session x 5/10 rpe = 450 points) where if we want a 1000 point week we now have 550 to play with for our second session of the week so we can either go at 110mins at 5/10 or 70mins at 8/10 to bet there.

Next week, we increase it by 10% to get to 1100 points.

I think it's achievable for any coach at any level, its not hard, although there can be obvious problems with using RPE as everything is 7/10 for some reason!


I have racked my brain to come up with some solid recommendations for L/A coaches to train their players under but I just can't seem to make it implementable. 

I'll continue to work on it though!

Again simple player wellness and training scores can help you develop your training over the short and long term to ensure all players maintain optimal fitness levels throughout the season.

Here are some blogs I've done on player monitoring from this time last year:

I'll be making this available again this season so if you're club is interested in tracking these things then we can set up a spreadsheet where we can both enter values, I can analyse it for you and provide training recommendations for individual, groups or teams of players.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ACL Injuries in Women Footballers - Win the Battle!

There were another 2 or 3 season ending knee injuries in the AFLW season this week and it;s not just the AFLW season they'll miss, but the entire year for local footy and work.

It could potentially cost them next years AFLW season as well depending on the severity of the injury and how successful and seamless the recovery process is.

I probably should have done this post as one of the initial blogs for Women's footy but I did touch on it in my inaugural women's football post.

I'll re-post a few of the main points from that post real quickly.


During adolescence, males get stronger as their bodies get heavier from natural development so relative strength can improve at the same rate. In females, their strength levels can cease development while their bodies continue to get heavier and develop, essentially decreasing relative strength and leaving women athletes unable to control their bodies optimally to stay out of injury risk zones.


Females naturally have more pliable and flexible muscle and connective (ligaments/tendons) tissue. This can lead to hyper mobility which can be an injury risk if not "corrected" through ample stability training. It also results in slower contraction time which can leave you vulnerable during max velocity movements.

To paint this picture think of tight rubber band versus and loose rubber band. When pulling them back to slingshot forward, which is pretty much how propulsion/sprinting works, you obviously don't need to pull back the tighter band as far as the loose band. The unfortunate thing here is that you want to go as hard as you can and when the loose rubber band can't tighten in time to sling your forward, you'll loose all joint stability and the connective tissue are out under huge strain to to do this job and snap!

I would be very hesitant to stretch any female at all, let alone footballers.


A week or 2 ago I posted anout what happens to the female body on phyioslogicval and pscological level through the the 28 day mentrual cycle.

As mentioned above, womens bodies are extremely pliable but at various times during your cycle, you can become extra, extra pliable - obviously a recipe for diaster if not accounted for during your training.


This isn't exclusive to women but it can probably have more of an affect of what you're strengths and weakness will be compared to men. The ideal build for a female runner is small breats and a small waist which will mean less body mass to move, a decreased average Q angle and thus decreased injury risk.

If you're not that shape, and not everyone will be, then it would be wise to plan your training in the long term to focus on a combination of off and on-legs cardio, rather then just running, running, running.

Let's look at more ACL specific implications.

Females can be as high as 8 x more likely to injure an ACL then men.

Females have a far narrower space for the ACL to pass through leaving you extremely vulnerable during twisting motions, even of very short range of motion.

 The Q angle is the angle from the the most lateral part of your hips to the lateral knee and the greater angle this is, the greater potential for "knock knees" you'll have during change of direction and landing movements. This is the twisting/rotational movement discussed above that can put you in the high risk injury category.

Deceleration and landing mechanics are rarely taught to any athlete let alone women, where strength and mechanics can improve your capacity to perform both in a safe manner can be greatly improved.

The posterior chain refers to all the muscles up the back of the body such as the glutes, hamstrings and upper back muscles that can often be neglected in all forms of training, or not trained enough. In regards to ACL injury prevention, the glutes can stabilise the knee from up top and decrease some of the unwanted movement that can occur. During deceleration from sprinting or when changing direction the hamstrings can also assist strongly to decrease the "lag time" mentioned above in reference to looser muscle and connective tissue.

Most ACL tears in women will occur from a 1 step and deceleration movement, cutting movements, change of direction movements and landing from a jump with inadequate knee and hip flexion, essentially landing with straight legs which leaves your muscles unable to take any of the stress of the movement and a lapse in concentration can also result in an unanticipated change of direction.

It's important to know that 70% of female ACL injuries are non-contact and occur with your feet on the ground.

Because of the weakness described above a lot of women will change direction in a more vertical position and will also land with less knee bend which is simply the body taking the path of least resistance to get the job done - strengthening those muscles and actions will change the mechanics of how your body moves and functions, and hopefully take away from the high injury risk category.

The PEP program was designed by Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation specifically for women athletes of all sports.

It's a program to be done 3/week and it takes about 20mins each time. I would be wary of fatigue playing a apart in this program essentially rendering it useless as you won't be using the muscles, or the mechanics you're meant to be so I'd suggest at least starting with 10mins x 6/week to spread the stress initially.


Jog with High Knee + Full Hip Extension

Side Shuffle with Straight Torso and Staying Low

Backwards Running Maintaining a Slight Knee Bend At All Times


Walking Lunge

Nordic Curls

Single Leg Calf Raise + Hip Flexion Slow and Controlled


Line Jumps

Lateral Line Jumps

Line Hops

Lateral Line Hops

Forward Hops

Backwards Hops

Lateral Hops Abduction

Lateral Hop Adduction

Drop Squat  + Stick Landing

Drop Split Squat + Stick Landing

Vertical Jump + Stick Landing

Split Squat Jump + Stick Landing

Hieden Hop + Stick Landing


Run + 3 Step Deceleration

Zig Zag Run + Push Off

Bounding Run

Like I said, I think it's best to start off by cutting this in half choosing half of the exercises and doing them all in go then doing the other half the next day x 6/week in total.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Train Footy Tuesday/Thursday, Do This Wednesday

Practice games are right around the corner which means training time is decreased, recovery resources decrease and you need to find a way to train the same amount of stuff you do now, but in less time.

This less training time usually results in you skipping the small but still important rocks, and just banging out the big rocks but that simply means that every session is balls to the wall which is not really applicable for us L/A footballers who work all day then have to add training on top of that.

Your footy week should be prioritised in this order:

  1. Be 100% for game day
  2. Recover enough from Saturday to give 100% on Tuesday
  3. Recover enough from Tuesday to give 100% on Thursday
  4. Any extra training you do on your own
Recovery isn't just rest and sleep, although that is a big part of it, where your thoughts are simply on muscle tissue regeneration.
What you also need to think of is getting your body back to a parasympathetic state because it is only then that it can rest and regenerate. 

Having 20 beers and then sleeping for 18hrs isn't really tissue regenerating stuff, even though you've been in bed for almost a day. The alcohol will put your body in a highly sympathetic state while it processes the food and drink from last night, especially the alcohol in your blood. Only once that is complete can your body actually get to the resting stage which may be Sunday or even Monday.

Between training session you only have 46 or so hours to regenerate for Thursday training and for this I propose you use an aerobic capacity corrective exercise type session session.

This is where all the little rocks you skip during the week get a look in, you develop some extra aerobic capacity which is what you need to recover from bouts of top speed sprinting come game day, you get to train all the muscles that support your prime movers and if you do all of this at a RPE of 4 - 5/10, you'll feel a lot better and your body will have greater readiness to hit Thursday training then if you sit at home watching Swanny on Celebrity Get Me Outta Here.

My schedule right now is:

Monday - High Intensity Day
Tuesday - Medium Intensity Day
Wednesday - Low Intensity Day
Thursday - High Intensity Day
Friday - Medium Intensity Day
Saturday - Low Intensity Day
Sunday - Off

Wednesday is my training hump day which is when I perform this recovery session.

So I'll do 3 - 4 circuits that look like this:

Boxing x 60secs, Corrective Exercise x 10 - 20 reps, Corrective Exercise x 10- 20 reps

I'll have 3 - 4 different mini-circuits of these and I do than all in a row which will take me 35 - 40mins on average.

I keep my pace in check (a 4 - 5/10 isd slow, a lot slower then you would normally do this I guarantee) which is crucial to hit the aerobic pathways - I don't want to even know that anaerobic (in complete rest sprinting etc) exists during these sessions or I won't get what I want out of it.

The boxing looks like this:

Very, very easy.

Here are some exercises I've used as the corrective/isolation exercises.

Whatever exercise you use, just use one that focuses on either stability of mobility, do it for medium to high reps but as you can see from my facial expressions, I'm not going near failure.

Give it a shot today!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Why I Love Training Women Footballers + Limited Offer for 10 Women Footballers Only!

Through my years as a personal trainer I've probably had more female than male clients. This has provided me with the opportunity to train many different types of women, many different types of ways and I feel I can deliver the type of session that is fun, challenging and different to other trainers.

This also holds true for when I train my football players.

Women have a different skill set when it comes to physical qualities with some being very specific to footy, many of which I outlined in this blog.

Most women are trained with high reps, low weight and little to no rest periods which is great if you're training for body composition or whatever but footy is a completely different game.

You can't train Crossfit and play footy.

You can't train train marathons and play footy.

You can't train powerlifting and play footy.

All 3 of these modes have parts that cross over into footy at various points, but that's purely where the similarities end.

Whether I am training male or female footballers my theory is always the same.

Step 1 - Increase Your Top Speed

Every contest for the footy is essentially a race which makes your speed to get to, and away from the contest, critical to you and your teams success.

Step 2 - Increase Your Aerobic Capacity

Most people think of aerobic capacity as time trials and such but as easy as these tests are to administer, they really provide little data that can dictate on-field performance.

I like to class aerobic capacity by your resting heart rate, heart rate recovery and anaerobic threshold.

If you can improve 1, 2 or all of these, then you're aerobic capacity and on-field performance will go through the roof.

So you've got speed and you've got great aerobic capacity but what does that mean exactly?

If you have great speed then to actually be able to use it as an advantage over other players, you need to able to display that top speed, or close to, as often as you can during the course of a game.

Being able to do it once counts for nothing, unless you only go on for the last minute of the game, burst out of a pack and kick the winning goal on the siren.

What high levels of aerobic capacity will do is to allow you to recover from these bouts of top end sprints faster, so you'll be able to display them more often.

Have a look at Cat Phillips from the Demons/Pies game on Saturday night, especially the 2nd goal:

Without speed she probably doesn't get to that position when she needed to, she probably doesn't get there without any other Collingwood players being in the vicinity and she doesn't burn off that poor Collingwood player either.

Without speed she's "just another footballer", except I know she comes from Ultimate Frisbee, I play footy with her boyfriend, and all the "Frisbee's" as we call them, have super endurance and pretty good speed but she has X-factor speed at women's level.

At the Olympic level it is genetics that get you to the medal races but they are top .0001% in the world, but at local/amateur women's football level, which AFLW still is, correct training can produce astounding speed increases in women.

Using my female footballers for example, by using simple training sessions, at maximum intensity/speed with adequate rest periods, along with using near maximum loads in the gym for low to moderate reps, we have managed to decrease speed times for up to 4 sessions in a row before we start to stabilise them.

An improvement as small as .001 of  second is still great progress in sprinting terms, especially if these gains are made consistently.

When it comes to high intensity training, or what might be better referred to as nervous system training, women are a blank canvas and this is why I love training women footballers.

The brain might decide what you'll do but the nervous system dictates to what level you do it at.

Women have rarely, if ever, been subjected to such a huge stimulus which in turn can have a huge effect on your performance output once you start to train like that.

Just note that high intensity is not to be confused with high fatigue.

Intensity is the level at which you are training at according to your maximum output.

So for running, top end or max velocity speed over 10 - 20m is your 100% output.

So for Moz her personal best flying 20m sprint is 2.75secs which equals 7.27 meters per second.

To train true aerobic capacity which we want to do so at about 60% intensity means she should drop her speed to just 4.362 meters per second.

So a 15sec tempo run for her would cover: 4.362 x 15 = 65.43m.

This would ensure that she is training only the aerobic pathways during this specific drill but most football players, men and women, will read 15secs and go all out for that time.

This results in you by-passing the aerobic pathways as it's too fast to rely on oxygen for fuel for, but also too slow to train the alactic power pathways (speed) so you end up training "in the middle".


Yep, that's right.

The way you probably train most of time is not optimal.

It does have it's place in footy training don't get me wrong but this type of training can only be performed for 4 - 6 weeks before performance starts to drop off.

Unfortunately most footy clubs start off with this and continue it for weeks on end over the summer, essentially breaking down their players as it's very hard to recovery from, that type of training.

That being said your team training will be predominantly "in the middle" which is fine but you need to start training at the "slow and fast' ends of the spectrum in your own time.

Enter this very, very limited offer to women footballers only.

I will make available a 2 week trial period of a program that focuses exclusively on speed and aerobic capacity that fits in and around your current team training nights.

I have a template that I'll be using but I can modify it to fit your needs if needed.

There will be specific requirements you'll need to fulfill while doing the program as well as after it but you'll be instructed how to all these simple and quick tasks.

I can only limit this 2 week trial to 10 women footballers so simply fill in this application form, and I'll be in contact with any follow up questions I have.

With a Facebook page of over 1000 and a Twitter of over 400 plus the boom of women's football right now, you're best to apply for this immediately to give yourself the best chance of getting a spot.