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Well Ashley many of these have been inspired by your articles and conversations with you … so to qoute Malcom X “Only the mistakes have been mine” … (There isn’t really one original thought in there!)
A few more of thoughts ….
Fitness testing is rarely (never?) useful –
Don’t test – monitor. As someone who loves to understand science this was a slow realisation, but there are a few things to consider. A fitness test is never 100% accurate – take into account all the variables and decide if you can ever fully replicate a test with all conditions 100% correct. Example – can you ever do the same v02 max test for every athlete in the exact same conditions?
For every test you lose approx 3 days of work to do it properly, a rest day before, test day and since the test is usually a max effort at least on day after.
Monitor instead – Do you need to do a maximum effort test to learn something about a player? Can you look at a training diary and see the ‘real-life’ daily tests and learn as much? What can you tell by asking a player a simple ‘How are you?’
A test is only as good as the follow up. In other words to me tests should show incremental changes – not relative overall change.
Also the test must be replicable so even if your vertical jump test equipment is only 95% accurate – well that’s fine once it’s always 95% accurate!
The fitness test is the game – read the score board. It reminds me of the Jordan Rules where Sam Smith commented that Michael Jordan never came out the top in any fitness test … as for the games … another story
Speed Kills –
Both on the road and in sport, this rings true. Speed is probably one of the most dnagerous things in sport and the one thing there is no protection against unless you have it too. Is it trainable? Well I think so – I think it can be improved a lot. But like many things only to within the genetic window.
Respect the Nervous System –
The CNS or Central Nervous System is probably one of the most interesting and misunderstood aspects of sports performance and human physiology…. it’s also the most powerful in terms of sport. The fatigue on the human system is very interesting and in team sports it’s a very complex idea since there are so many variables unlike in sprinting for example. I believe it can be slowly trained though to handle higher loads than many think – which is something many in the Northern Hemisphere don’t believe.
Visit Ireland once in your life time –
Just do it. You’ll be the better for it. 😉
Nice guys rarely win, but bad guys never win –
Winning in sport by it’s definition means defeating an opponent so by it’s nature there must be a willingness and desire to defeat – how you win, the nature of your win, is determined by character. Winning brings a responsibility and greater load than losing.
A hamstring injury does not “take 6 weeks” –
A coach once told me of taking a well known sprinter who had just pulled her hamstring to see a physiotherapist. After a quick check the physio said “Pulled hamstring, that’ll take 6 weeks”. He responded “She races in 4 weeks – thanks, but I haven’t got 6 weeks”. He took her away and trained her and had her treated as best he could – she raced and won 4 weeks later. Now many injuries take 6 weeks and sometimes longer – but I think all injuries are specific. Everyone heals differently, and with the best care injury times can be speeded up – if treated carefully. Do your best and see how well they can be progressed – but rather than setting a date and working back from it – why not try and set your own date?
Why are there contraindicated lifts in the gym but no contraindicated tackles on the field?
Well not exactly true – but the point is the same as Ashley made previously … sometimes the gym can be too sterile whereas the playing field has much fewer rules. Players need to be trained to protect themselves from tackles and posture doesn’t come into it when someone is trying to “put you into Row Z”.
Subtract rather than Add –
Often in a training program I think it’s better to take exercises out and simplify things rather than add more complexity, rules or exercises. After all complexity confuses not only the athlete – but often the coach!
Key to losing fat = Eat Less & Work More –
There are lots of fat loss guru’s and experts out there – but the simple equation of “Calories In < Calories Out = Fat Loss" always rings true. Get the basics right first … then worry about fancy bells and whistles etc.
Use all gears –
If you always train in 5th gear you can never raise the bar or the performance for the game day. That’s not to say slack in training, but often the best gym trainers can’t perform well on game day as they have no 6th gear to step up to. Sometimes these players perform well on game day after a sickness or injury where rest was forced on them. So by making sure some or half of the training goes through all the gears it leaves 5th gear ready for game day.
The best training program? … The one the athlete does –
Often coaches write the worlds best program but guys never do it – so the best program is one that a player does – not the one in his diary.
Eat like Grandma –
As food processing methods change (read: deteriorate) more and more illnesses such as cancers and diabetes become more prevelant. The key to a healthier lifestyle is to eat more natural foods and foods that we were designed to eat. So avoid the manufactured foods and eat more like the foods your Grandmother cooked and prepared.
Daddy had a great gym … it was called a farm –
Many players or athletes of years ago would smile to themselves if they walked into a team off-or pre-season today and watched players lifting sandbags and doing farmers walks etc. They were ‘farm-boy strong’ through lifting heavy objects and working hard outdoors. The body was pushed through movements that you couldn’t imagine in a gym making them truly fit for rugby or any sport. In many teams even today the stronger guys all worked on farms – no surprise there!
Unless a test helps change a training session – why do it?
Tied into one above – a great way to ask yourself is a fitness test worthwhile is simply ask “How will it change the next training session I plan”. If there is no answer then it needs to be considered carefully.
The most important thing in sport (and life) is honesty –
Honesty in sport and life is crucial. Honest effort and endevour wins not only matches but respect. Hide or not fully commit and not only is there greater chance of injury or failure, but people see through it, perhaps not the first time, but over time. Honesty is the key to a good nights sleep.
The most important lift –
If you could only do one exercise ever – I would have to pick the deadlift. Perhaps overhead squats or other exercises are more effective … but you have to love the simpliscity – raw strength whole body strength to lift a weight off the ground. You either make it or your don’t. Doesn’t get any simpler in definition does it?