SPORTS PERFORMANCE

Train Like the Pros

Hi -> Its been quite a while since I've posted a blog.

As I'm not one to post unless I have something constructive to say, enough cogs seem to have turned in my head to the point that maybe there is something useful I can share.

New perspectives...

What I have I been up to since my last post. 

From an applied context I am still High Performance Manager (I hate that title!) at Fremantle Football Club in the AFL having just completed my 11th pre-season with the club.  Over those 11 years we pulled ourselves off the bottom of the ladder, graduating to an elite top 4 club, in the process coming agonizingly close to a title. The past three seasons however have seen us enduring the plight of the "rebuild" with retiring champions and roster turnover central features of our existence.

The roster turnover has changed us radically.  I have been confronted with a truly new generation of players which I have been intrigued to discover require a different approach. For further discussion!

In addition to new and younger athletes, I've supervised two Honour's Degree programs (with a strong S&C focus) over the last two years and had 9 undergraduate students come through our work placement / intern program. All of which has made me re-evaluate how I communicate the core philosophical elements of my program. This re-shuffle in my approach has made a number of previously abstract concepts far more user friendly, something I'm sure other coaches will appreciate.

Academically I have chosen to pursue a PhD. Many ask why? The honest reason is two fold.

Firstly - I have for many years had a burning question regarding how we manage sub acute and acute injuries with respect to running load. What happens mechanically to an athlete when they receive a "cork" (intra-muscluar haematoma) to a calf that requires 4-5 days of solid treatment just to get back to running. Running mechanics must change! What about after a broken leg? Physios often talk about "load-shift" occurring when one muscle takes additional load in the face of functional limitations in another. Same -> mechanics must change. With this in mind I've developed a methodology for assessing this concept in the field in order to answer my principle question. From my perspective, this makes my study easy and in a way pure, in that I've fixated on this question for many years and I've simply personally evolved to a level sufficient to create an answer. This in its self makes the discussion of research in association with a coaching career a very interesting conversation.

Secondly - fall-back plan. The reality of this industry is that all good things eventually come to an end. With over 25yrs of high level professional experience in S&C (and the other title noted above) and hopefully a solid PhD in the not too distant future, I feel my next iteration may be in an education modality (either that or flipping sausages at Buninngs). Hopefully not for a while, but you just never know! Can't do it these days without the three letters!

As I'm up to my eyeballs in a data driven advanced research project I've certainly gained a new perspective on where the ubiquitous sport scientist sits in "my" world. Make no mistake...I am and always will be a coach first and foremost, but how you position people around you to maximize your effectiveness is a critical discussion for young coaches looking to move up the chain. Further, the world is moving on. If you don't keep up you are going to fall by the wayside. To manage larger staff now and into the future you need to understand advanced statistics and computational coding languages because you will end up with those guys in your team -> and believe me you want to be capable of more than just understanding them. Again...subject for further discussion.

So, just a snap shot of my journey over the last 12months or so. In the coming weeks / months I plan to expand in detail on what I've learnt, some of which I intimated above and how I feel it has improved my coaching. Hope you have a read and get something out of it!

JW

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