This conversation has been designed to support all those I have met in a consultancy capacity in recent years as we brainstormed ideas and concepts towards improved performance in a team setting. The operational reviews I have been honoured to conduct always needed to go beyond the actual written review report and it is the ongoing sharing of information that I find to be the most helpful to all concerned. This conversation is one of those ‘sharing’ episodes.
Just a reminder of why I write all this stuff – I am no author or research specialist and my professional development has been mainly due to watching and talking to other practitioners so I tend to jot these thoughts down more as a conversation than an official document. I have learned a lot by listening to those who have made decisions based on experience and especially those who have made mistakes and learned from them.
In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to chat with my colleague Dean Benton and listen to Dean and Grant Duthie explaining some of the principles and processes they employ when creating their team based performance enhancement system. A word about Grant – sure he has a PhD but he cut his teeth on practical coaching in some really demanding environments before doing all his ‘science’ stuff. He quickly returned to the sharp end of things while gaining his academic status. His practical coaching is the thing that makes him great – not the letters after his name. He and Dan Baker are renowned for their practical delivery and not just their hard-earned qualifications.
I have also been lucky enough to be part of some of Team GB’s Olympic team sports as they prepared for the tournaments in London and Rio and competitions in between. It has been a refreshing time listening to the thoughts of all these people and I view this episode in my on-going education as a mighty step forward. When I view their interpretation of ‘best practice’ I see it in the context of what other practitioners are doing in their own unique environment. In recent years I have also been greatly impressed by people like Jim Radcliffe, Ray Verheijen, Phil Moreland, Andy Thomson and Mick McDermott as they have battled their way to finding the best solutions for their team-sport environment. They have had to find the most appropriate solutions to the quest for a program that balances the technical, tactical components with the specific physical requirements of the sport.
Mick McDermott is certainly a practitioner who impressed me enormously and continues to be a source of inspiration to the present day. I joined Mick at the Al Ain Football Club in the UAE for 6 months as Performance Director which allowed me the opportunity to see him deal with the equation of Technical, Tactical, Physical and Mental. He understood the ‘technique is the execution of a decision’ and at the same time understood the need for a ‘movement vocabulary’ – both elements vital in the quest for performance enhancement and injury reduction. The key issue that he became a master of was how to satisfy these two major elements in a sport that was stuck in a paradigm of ‘everything with the ball’.
• Knowing the correct stuff is not always the issue. You will also need the diplomatic skills to open and change people’s minds. You will need to try to gain an outcome in the most limited of timescales. You will need to ‘find a way or make one’.
• In 20 minutes of a well organised Warm Up you can do 300 movements. Do this in the 5 sessions of the week and you can do 6000 movements in a month. In 3 months you can achieve a lot in terms of movement efficiency, consistency and resilience. No excuses folks!
When I add this information to my own experiences as a coach and my working with and doing operational reviews for a range of professional Clubs and being influenced by the creativity of team-sport practitioners like Lachlan Penfold, Jeremy Hickmans, Jason Weber, Steve Jones, Bill Knowles, Suki Hobson, Mike Dalgleish, Brynley Abad, Julie Hayton, Charlie Higgins, Damien Marsh, John Pryor and Fergus Connolly (I know – I have forgotten someone!) I get a little more comfortable with what ‘best-practice’ for field and court team sports might look like.
First thoughts are that some of this is a challenge to the “logic that quality (specific preparation) only appears after large amounts of quantity (general preparation).” – Bordman & Villaneuva, 2014. Challenge though it might I would certainly not use that argument for the early training / development years (6-18 years). I agree with the sentiment of Bordman and his colleagues for the elite layer of performance where (and if) the senior player has arrived at the elite level with no (or few) limitations technically, tactically, physically and mentally then they can embark upon a very game-specific journey. Safe to say that very few do arrive at the senior layers with no limitations and so professional Clubs must consider reviewing their talent development pathways.
• Guarantee that players arriving at the cusp of First Team action have few, if any, limitations in the fundamentals of technique, physical and mental development.
A Reminder of the Foundations
• Develop movement efficiency in Squat, Lunge, Pull, Push, Brace, Rotate, Hinge and Landing.
• Develop these in every direction and plane; at every speed, amplitude; along the entire force continuum from plyometric to maximum strength.
• Let the load progression be appropriate to their maturation stage (biological age not chronological age).
• Allow them to experience all the energy-release mechanisms as their metabolic ability increases.
• Let them learn using all the processes from implicit to explicit. Use outcome based learning as a major tool.
• Through implicit learning in their skill acquisition and movement efficiency development allow them to improve their decision-making speed and accuracy; anticipation and their pattern recognition.
• Use all these components to progress locomotion, non-locomotion and manipulative skills.
• While all this ‘physical’ development is taking place ensure that they are learning high behavioural standards e.g. attitude, commitment, discipline, perseverance, humility, respect.
I began my experiences with team sports back in 1986 when I was working with some of the Canberra Raiders Rugby League players in their off-season. As someone whose life revolved around an individual sport (Track and Field Athletics) the transition of my knowledge to a team sport was less than effective compared to where we are 30 years later. My T&F athletes did their training relative to the event they specialised in. They were not ‘developmental’ athletes but senior, seasoned campaigners (so I thought – back then I thought that their high national ranking guaranteed that they had all the fundamental technical and physical qualities required for an assault on the world rankings – a grave mistake!) and so their training was chosen for an event specific purpose.
The Rugby league players I met fell into the same category – I thought that they were seasoned campaigners with all the development stuff well in place. It didn’t take me long to see that their long, slow distance runs and their heavy resistance training were not the smartest means of developing football speed, football endurance and football strength. We ran up and bounded down short hills, accelerated and decelerated, dragged sleds, bounded and threw medicine balls in an attempt to give them the physical qualities to move fast. We also ran the patterns they would run in the game, particularly the ‘up-and-back’ routine. Finally their strength training moved from being a 3 month off-season process to a year-round progressive journey that dealt with general, related and specific strength. Nothing ‘flash’ just plain, old-fashioned training common-sense. The positive difference in training outcomes arose because they had done little of this previously and so there was a real performance response.
I had more ‘light-bulb’ moments as I learned more about the game itself – and the players. The way the week was put together in terms of intensity and rest and the way the cycles of work were put together to accommodate cumulative training effects across the season were interpretations of all I had learned from my Olympic T&F athletes. I learned some lessons the hard way. For example my first attempts at progressing the player’s maximum velocity work again saw me assuming too much. After a 3 year period at the Raiders where I worked as an assistant, part-time coach I reached the Brisbane Broncos in late 1989. It seemed appropriate that, now I was in a full-time position and making more of the training decisions, I could add even more specificity into their football speed work. I started the thread of maximum speed work (progressing Mach drills on to flying 10, 20 and 30m efforts with and without a ball and with and without a ‘decision’) just as my 100m Track sprinters had done. Ridiculous! Too much, too soon and loads of players developed tightness in Hamstrings, Groins, Quads, etc. I had ignored the rules of (a) ‘earning the right’ to advance the intensity of things and (b) the development of mechanical efficiency, consistency and resilience prior to maximum speed development. It all looked OK on paper but lessons were learned very quickly.
• Don’t let their ranking or competition results fool you into thinking they have mastered the basics.
I am fortunate enough to have lived long enough to have witnessed so many of these ‘light-bulb’ moments and I can safely say that each one of them grew out of simple common-sense and was never a 180 degree turn from what I had previously experienced. You don’t have to look for information that is mind-blowingly different or presented as the one, new, guaranteed solution to all our problems (no such thing). Instead you should look for those things that are worthy of consideration in the light of the known principles of training.
These training /performance initiatives, often seen as ‘ground-breaking’, always seem to be part of a simple progression of things. For example as technology has advanced so has the ability to quantify what we are doing. By quantifying the things that we do in the sphere of performance enhancement we are more able to be accurate in the elements that we introduce into training. We are able to choose the appropriate exercises; choose the appropriate intensity of them; choose the frequency and density of their appearance in the program and know when to appropriately progress or regress them all with a degree of accuracy. Unfortunately there are far too many people nowadays who see the collection of the data (and its publication) as the centre of the universe as opposed to those who know how to get the technology to help with better coaching decisions.
One must not forget, however, that our predecessors did not have the technology to assist their decision-making and that they had to rely on observation and common-sense to make these important decisions. While their accuracy may have been less than what we see in today’s technologically supported decision-making they were still skilled and open-minded enough to actually look for information and make the decision. Not all of us in the 21st century have access to technology so we must all still develop the skills of observation to help our decision-making.
‘Let science make you a better artist.’ Bill Sweetenham
Those practitioners who are hired to develop the ‘physical’ qualities of the athlete while the ‘coach’ develops the technical and tactical aspects of the performance continuum seem to be adequately serviced in understanding and using these modern-day tools e.g. GPS, BMS, etc. I am concerned, however, that the ‘coaching’ side of things must not fall behind in this aspect of performance enhancement provision. It is not just the S&C coach who needs to bring an understanding of the specificity, intensity, frequency and density coordination into the program. At First Team level the objectives are clear: keep your best players available for selection; prepare them so they can tolerate fatigue at the highest levels of intensity; train them so they are fresh (or as fresh as possible) for each game. Rugby League is a game of intensive actions – it is these actions that have to be endured (not any commitment to pointless ‘plodding’ for hours at a time which usually gets them tired and injured) so the emphasis must be on (a) achieving the highest quality of movement in the action (skill) (b) achieving the chosen (very high!) intensity of effort then (b) learning to endure it.
Training smarter with a higher intensity is more effective. This is not an opinion to be debated, it is objective fact. Verheijen, 2015
Where to Start?
A Performance Strategy
What might be the cornerstone overview for the field and court team sport? In general terms the organisation will need to make the decision as to whether they intend to develop their players through a talent development process and add these home-grown players to those who are recruited using the financial ‘clout’ of the organisation – or – be an entity that just buys in the talent. If the former is the strategy then there is much to be done. As an overall strategy the organisation will need to understand, create and resource:
1. An appropriate journey of Technical, Tactical, Physical and Mental (Behavioural) elements from induction – through pre- and post-puberty ages ranges – and on to the cusp of the senior age groups (late teen-age years). This must include all ‘feeder’ Club operations. The strategy will include:
a. The journey from pre-puberty through to the threshold of adulthood must look different to that seen at the high performance layer. Mechanical efficiency, consistency and resilience – coupled with exposure to the array of metabolic journeys – coupled with locomotion, non-locomotion and manipulative skill journeys – coupled to learning elements along the entire continuum from implicit to explicit learning – forms the syllabus for the developing athlete whose journey moves from general to related to specific.
b. Coach education and recruitment pathways including CPD for all staff from Assistant Coaches through to Development Officers and Senior Coaches. This element will need to go way beyond current content of coach education packages. Make no mistake current Coach Education will not supply you with enough information on the four pillars for you to actually deliver with effect. It is time for the smart organisations to stop waiting for their NGB to provide this and get out there and create the education content yourself. Whoever gets this right gets ahead of the game and the opposition.
c. Succession planning for staff recruitment and development – consistency and continuity of well-educated and experienced coaches is vital.
d. We must all be cognisant that every player must be developed in a way where they bring the fewest limitations forward into their senior years. This means that ‘Development’ programs, while containing some of the language and vocabulary of the high performance setting, will have to be created with a completely different emphasis.
“If your development program and high performance program look the same then one of them is wrong.”
2. A well created and resourced transition strategy where those players determined to be future first team members (maybe a High Performance Unit) are carefully serviced along the pathway to this ultimate layer of performance in the organisation. The last thing anyone would want to do at this juncture is ‘fast-tracking’ or ‘quick-fixing’.
3. An appropriate first team performance strategy that maximises all elements (Tactical, Technical, Physical and Mental (Behavioural). There must be the flexibility and adaptability within this strategy to:
a. Reduce any inherited limitations to future training and competition adaptation.
b. Ensure that every component (Technical, Tactical, Physical, Mental) is delivered in context with measureable planning of load and progression.
• Deliver Technical, Tactical, Physical and Mental components in every session, meso- and macro-cycles (just change the emphasis).
• Deliver the foundations of mechanical efficiency, consistency and resilience.
• Deliver the foundations of the entire metabolic pathway.
It is beholding of the organisation to create this pathway in this detail, staffed by those with the knowledge and experience to deliver at all the different layers of the player continuum. It is a journey from development through to high performance and will need a range of human, physical and financial resources to see it through. More than anything it will need a common purpose and harmony from decision-makers through to the performance deliverers. Add to this a robust succession plan for staff and the organisation may just create something for the long-term.
• Assemble staff who are open-minded and patient
I have written much on the elements and requirements of the ‘developmental’ layer – see Mechanical Efficiency and the Developing Athlete; An Introduction to Athlete Development; Physical Competence Assessment Manual – and the new Athletic Development Certificate Courses so I now move forward to some thoughts on this First Team Performance Strategy. These points are relevant only if the players are guaranteed to have come through an appropriate development process. I believe that they have to ‘earn the right’ to focus solely on winning by eliminating any limitations.
First Team Overview
1. Winning obviously tops the list but I would probably offer up consistent, injury reduced, repeatable excellence as the main element basically because no-one can control what the opposition does in terms of recruitment and preparation. I can’t see the point of worrying about what you can’t control. What you can do is create a plan that aims to accommodate just about everything that the opposition might bring to the table and get your players to adapt to standards that go beyond what you hope the opposition won’t have the will to try.
2. To do this sees a focus on the creation of a game-plan that reflects the qualities of the squad at hand e.g. Who in the team does what the best (in terms of Technical, Tactical, Physical, Mental)? Who in the team has what limitations? What game plan can use this knowledge the best? Immediately we can set down a long-term principle about the team – it is dynamic and not static. It will not stay in its current form and so flexibility and adaptability are the key elements that the Head Coach must consider.
3. This game-plan needs to offer the greatest number of solutions to all the elements that the opposition can and will bring to the arena in terms of skill and intensity. One would do well to keep checking this status of the game frequently during the playing season relative to what is known of the opposition and also look ahead to where the game might be developing to in the future so that your Club has some degree of ‘future-proofing’ in place. In other words this game-plan must be flexible, adaptable and progressive.
4. Very often this game plan will be created relative to certain ‘physical’ components e.g. the tempo of play may have to be raised to see off an opposition; the frequency and density of this raised intensity may have to be increased to see off the opposition.
5. The game-plan will also have to be created relative to the technical and tactical components e.g. decision-making elements may have to be done (a) better (b) more frequently; the execution of the fundamental and complex skills associated with attack, transition and defence may have to be done (a) better (b) more frequently.
6. The underlying requirement in the creation of this game plan is knowing what the game demands in terms of each position from (a) a technical / skill requirement (b) the quality, intensity and density of work. It is this area that requires a deal of thought. Beware of working these things out in averages (the usual way that we interpret the mass of data garnered from GPS, etc.) “These findings suggest that reporting mean values alone may underestimate the most intense physical demands of competition. Consequently, conditioning programs that are based on these mean values will likely result in players being underprepared for the most demanding passages of competition.” Austin et al, 2010
7. As we drill deeper into the game-plan we will unearth the physical components of skill, speed, power, strength and endurance each of which has its own unique journey from general-to-related-to-specific with the added quality of being adaptable to any game-plan conceived.
8. If items 1 – 7 are well catered for then the next requirement is to create / choose movement patterns / drills that (a) are appropriate to the demands of the game (b) constructed so that they can be advanced or regressed in intensity, complexity and volume relative to the demands of the game and the individual player.
9. This array of components must also be created and serviced in the light of the individual player requirements. One size does not fit all in terms of programming so whoever can fit the program to the individual player will enhance the outcomes.
Some ‘Toolbox’ thoughts and questions aimed at ‘First Team High Performance’ (not all are applicable to ‘Development’).
• Volume is subordinate to intensity and quantity subordinate to quality.
• If you are involved in a ‘running’ game then for goodness sake teach them how to run. Teach them ‘How’ before training ‘How Much’.
• If you want to play fast you better train fast.
• The longer you spend at game speed or above and have the ability to recover from it the more appropriate the adaptation. What percentage of training time is spent 10-20% above game speed?
• There must be periods of advancement and periods of consolidation.
• Train certain qualities one day and different ones the next.
• Know how long the athlete takes to recover from the training of certain qualities – don’t add stress to stress – training is cumulative. ‘The session finishes when the athlete has recovered from it’ is worth understanding in this sense.
• Keep the intensity high coupled with appropriate recovery.
• Slowly learn to adapt to the intensity you need. Any sudden increase in intensity, frequency and density more than 5-10% can be hazardous.
• Volume is not a bio-motor ability.
• Know the required intensity / efforts / speeds / accelerations / collisions for each training unit at each time allocation e.g. 10sec activity – 20sec – 30sec – 60sec – 2min – 3min – 5min – 8min – etc. All this must be relative to a % of the game-plan.
• Have you eradicated all the limitations that create injury or errors at this ‘above-game-speed’ commitment?
• Take the players bodyweight into consideration when establishing cumulative load.
• Create the optimum balance between ‘stand-alone’ strength and conditioning elements and ‘game-based’ strength and conditioning elements. Remember that ‘technique is the execution of a decision’.
• Don’t just do ‘stuff’. Every activity, action and posture must link to the game-plan. In the competitive season time is the biggest problem in the fatigue – freshness continuum. Only choose activities that give you the biggest ‘bang-for-buck’ relative to the game-plan.
• A comment or two about Strength training:
(a) Developmental strength training will start with total-structural-strength (TSS) achieved by the journey undertaken with the foundation movements (see overview on page 1). The early part of the journey (up until post-puberty in particular) will focus on neuro-muscular efficiency development as opposed to only hypertrophy development.
(b) High Performance strength training is there for a purpose – to make the sports-specific actions and postures more effective relative to the game-plan and the opposition. If the player has arrived at the High Performance setting with advanced TSS then the specifics can be concentrated on. TSS will not be ignored but built upon for the advancement of the sports specific elements that now must gain the upper-hand. Every strength training exercise must be chosen for its role in this strategy and not become an aim in itself. Create an appropriate strength journey to running improvement (Acceleration; Maximum Velocity; COD; Agility) after all it is a running game. Create the strength journey to other sports-specific actions and postures e.g. Contact; PTB; etc. If all you see is Olympic Weightlifting exercise selection then something is missing.
Training Session Thoughts
Every general, related and sports-specific drill, attack practice, defence practice, transition practice, ball-work element introduced in training carries a mechanical and metabolic cost and therefore should be placed under the same scrutiny in terms of specificity, intensity, frequency and density as those elements more closely associated with strength and conditioning. Creating a session that is in two un-related parts (the S&C part and the ‘technical/tactical’ part) is pointless (but often seen). Every movement that is prescribed in the session must be there for a purpose; be part of a journey towards excellence in adaptation; be appropriate for the individual and their position. This framework must then be seamlessly woven into the chosen game-plan which in turn is chosen for the unique team characteristics available and the current trends and rhythms of the opposition. In other words ‘fit the program to your team characteristics and abilities’ and ‘fit the game plan to the highest demands of the modern game’ (and not just the average demands – be careful when reading scientific papers on game load. The often mentioned ‘mean’ values can be 40-98% below the peak values your players will be confronted with in the game).
‘Go to’ Sessions
Although all good coaches have a range of tools (exercises, drills, Small-Sided-Games (SSG’s) to bring to the training session there are some units of work that appear more than others. These are session units that the coach (and often the players) know work in a particular setting or for a particular need at a given time. If these session units do appear frequently then it is vital that more than the technical/ tactical outcomes are known. Back in 2005 my work at the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) came across this issue and it was decided to have a close look at the physical ‘cost’ of some of these ball-work sessions. David Pyne and his colleagues at the Australian Institute of Sport classified three well used ball-sessions in terms of their conditioning effect. While coaches saw these three modules of work as generally all being the same the analysis showed that one of them had a far higher conditioning effect than the other two. If training intensity is to be managed in terms of the work / recovery aspect of training then such information is vital.
By knowing the physical cost of the game and all the sub-sets of the game in terms of intensity, frequency and density and creating a game-plan that respects and accommodates these elements all training decisions can have a point of reference. It will mean a cooperative approach from all those linked in the performance chain – Coaches, S&C coaches, Sports Medical, etc.
A fine example of this cooperative approach is illustrated by the Japanese team at the recent Rugby World Cup and epitomised by the sterling work of Head Coach Eddie Jones and practitioners John Pryor and Dean Benton. Dean Benton has also arrived at this same point at the Melbourne Storm where his staff delivers the program in cooperation with the coach Craig Bellamy. Suffice to say that they collectively aim their prescription at the known elements of the individual player; the known elements of the smaller team units; the known elements of the collective team – all in the context of the intensity, frequency and density of the modern NRL game. How to use GPS, BMS, etc is therefore a key element of this information pathway but more importantly how to interpret and use the information towards efficient exercise prescription. This cannot be successful without it being a coordinated effort.
Having each exercise prescribed for a known adaptation purpose is the key element here. Physical activities in training must never exist ‘because we have always done it this way’. They are in the program at exactly the right time; at exactly the right intensity; relative to the exact game-plan requirements of the individual player or player unit. They are able to be progressed and regressed accurately at exactly the right time in the training process. Get this prescription right and you don’t have to wait until after the session to work out if the session reached the levels that you planned for.
It is the cooperation between all practitioners that is the key issue here. No longer can we justify or tolerate a silo mentality between departments within a performance operation. Sooner or later the players will arrive in their senior years of performance with few limitations (as long as their physical, technical, tactical and behavioural competence has been maximised along the 10 year journey). Once at this final layer of performance the athlete should be involved in a seamless program where physical, mental, technical and tactical elements are carefully woven together based upon observed information.
There are various places to visit to hear about and see these delivery components being put in place. Ray Verheijen and his crew at World Soccer Academy have for many years illustrated their use of small sided games (SSG). Born of the key principle that nearly all team sport technique is the ‘execution of a decision’ Ray Verheijen has created a system of progressive and regressive SSG to accommodate technique and decision-making in the same brushstroke.
But one must add to this the fact that SSG cannot be the sole tool in the coaches toolbox (especially during the development years). As Gabbett et al, 2012 suggest the sole use of games-based activity has specificity weaknesses as does the sole use of traditional conditioning. There should be a balanced use of both based upon the physical quality levels of the individual players. My own view is that the Verheijen approach is dependent on the creation of a wide and deep mechanical (movement) and metabolic vocabulary that services locomotion, non-locomotion and manipulative skills. The sole use of small-sided games will not be able to provide this.
I recall my clumsy attempts at managing training at the Brisbane Broncos back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I tried (using a pencil, paper and a stopwatch) to manipulate the below-game-speed; at-game-speed; and above-game-speed elements of training to our advantage. Using a very small number of ‘related’ drills (based upon the ‘up-and-back’ elements of the game) we slowly exposed the players to ever increasing time at ‘above-game-speed’. After 2 pre-seasons of work and one and half seasons of competition the players had adapted to this cyclic work and success followed. The key to the success of the team in the early 1990’s was not this element but the patience the organisation had. None of this adaptation happens overnight so patience is the key.
Apart from balancing this work with Head Coach Wayne Bennett’s training section of technical and tactical work and weaving the conditioning components with the twice-weekly strength training program the ‘periodisation’ elements of this training process were very basic indeed. Jump forward to 2016 and we see this ‘prescription and integration’ (as exemplified by such people as Dean Benton, John Pryor, Lachlan Penfold, Fergus Connolly, Mick McDermott and Jim Radcliffe) becoming more and more coordinated.
It is not all about the technology (although it does help to be able to monitor real-time) but more about the coming together on equal terms of technical, tactical, physical and mental components. They are presented to each other in a coordinated endeavour where the training load and outcome of each component is (a) known (b) monitored (c) delivered accurately (d) recovered from appropriately and en-masse delivered relative to the game-plan. The game plan is, in turn, developed relative to (a) the highest stressors of the modern game (b) the qualities of each individual player in the squad.
Having such a philosophy on team sport preparation will obviously place great demands on the personnel involved. There will need to be open-mindedness from all concerned and an understanding of each component of training as the ‘jigsaw’ is put together. ‘Technical’ and ‘tactical’ will have to fully understand and accommodate ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ and vice versa. No longer can there be one component subservient to another or one practitioner’s knowledge base more important than another. Certainly display a hierarchy of management, leadership and direction but when it comes to training methodology there is not one overriding component. As previously stated: ‘Every movement (drill, posture and action) must be there for a distinct purpose’. They will influence and be influenced by all the other components.
You can measure all you like and be in receipt of masses of data but the key is to interpret the data and then create the training activity that suits the objectives arising from the data. The key, as always, is exercise prescription and coaching.
So one should see the following being considered: (example from Rugby League)
Manipulating the Game Speed. A progressive introduction leading to the highest toleration weeks 14-16 (just prior to season start). Roughly taken from Brisbane Broncos training 1989-92.
By manipulating the above or at or below game intensity / speed / frequency, density into cycles of work that allow for adaptation and recovery and super-compensation you may find that the period of time to adapt to ‘game’ fitness during the season will no longer be an issue for those with enough pre-season time to work with. Those who have only a very short pre-season will also be in a better position to manage the approaching season.
Worth a read to get to grips with the details listed above:
Gabbett, T.J, Jenkins, D.G and Abernathy, B. Physical demands of professional rugby league training and competition using microtechnology. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 15 (2012) 80-86.
Benton, D and Duthie, G. Tactical Periodisation – Concept to Implementation. GAIN Presentation, 2016, Houston, Texas.
Austin DJ, Gabbett TJ, Jenkins DG. Repeated high-intensity exercise in professional rugby league. J Strength Cond Res 2010;25:1898–904.
King T, Jenkins D, Gabbett T. A time-motion analysis of professional rugby league match-play. J Sports Sci 2009;27:213–9.
Just as the ‘human element’ is vital in coaching the individual athlete so it is the cornerstone of the team environment. Assembling the human traits that make up the quality of ‘harmony’ in a group of players and support staff is a tough job but the most important one.
Part 3 is an overview of some of the major lessons learned and a glimpse of the ‘A’ team who have made my professional existence possible.