Interview with: Simon Thomas Tasman Makos Air New Zealand Cup & Tasman Rugby Academy

Name: Simon Thomas (Simon15)

 Strength & Conditioning Coach

 Tasman Makos Air New Zealand Cup & Tasman Rugby Academy

Greatest achievements as a trainer: Being offered the role with the Makos for Air NZ Cup 2009

Years in the Industry: In 1st year of Air NZ Cup, 1 Year with Academy, 2 Years with Junior Academy, 3 ½ Years as a student completed June 2008.

What strength coach or trainer has had the most impact on you and why?
Claire Dallison, Head Trainer for NZ Basketball, Former head trainer for NZ Paralympics. She runs the course which led me to into my Bachelors degree and opened a number of doors for me along the way to gain experience and learn. Her passion for what she does within the industry lit my fire and underpins a lot of my core values within what I do. Also Ashley Jones, I spent a short time over 3 years ago observing Ash in what he does, have kept in touch and I am lucky enough to be involved within a Union which feeds into his programme at the Crusaders. I get the opportunity to keep in regular contact and drop in on the programme whenever I can make it fit, which is a huge bonus for gaining knowledge and experience. Ash is always very open with his knowledge, experience and programmes.

What are the positives of being a Strength and Conditioning Coach / Trainer?
I love what I do, if I could do it 24 hours a day, I would. It allows me to be creative while working with a huge range of personalities. I really enjoy the challenge of giving athletes the opportunity to push beyond where they perceive their limits to be and get a real buzz from seeing them achieve.

What are the negatives?

The hours can be very random and long, I am learning a lot about prioritizing to ensure that I get the most important things done, I think one thing that is a disappointment for me is seeing people with true athletic potential waste it away. Working in rugby, the late nights and alcohol etc that some people let get in the way of true achievement is frustrating. But then it is great to see the pure hard workers with less natural genetic potential achieve ahead of the time-wasters in the long run.
Ego’s and politics are always frustrating within any industry, and very prevalent in sport.

What advice would you have for those wishing to become a part of the industry?
Be open to learn something every day, be ready to try things out, change your ideas and just rip into things and pick up what works for you along the way. I believe it is an industry for hard workers who don’t count the hours of what they do, because you just live it 24/7 rather than doing it as a job, then going home. I also think it is important to form a philosophy of the reasoning behind why you do what you do and how you do it. It’s something that can’t really be wrong, it doesn’t even have to be scientifically researched and proven, it can just be a feeling, it is just the way you believe works and is alive and open to adjustment and evolution as time goes by.

What is your favorite exercise? 
Power Clean. It has a high skill element which requires mental focus and discipline in learning along with the obvious physical components of strength, speed, power, flexibility etc. It is a full body movement that can be modified, built around, a powerful movement, involves triple extension, is applicable to improving athletic performance

Favorite piece of equipment you have in your gym?
I just like the fact that we have a good lifting based gym, squat racks, bars, plates, lifting platforms etc. With a few ropes, tyres, kegs etc thrown in for variation.I’m really enjoying ripping into the kegs at the moment!! I know my players really enjoy using the Dominator, loading it up and ripping into it. It is a great piece of equipment to get the boys firing. I’m also looking forward to seeing some real pain when the Conditioner arrives.

If you could change one thing what would it be?
I don’t really know what I would change…. I know I would like to create more time, or clone myself, so that I could get out and around a number of different programmes and how different trainers work. Study a bit more, visit a few different sports and programmes around the world etc. While still being able to do what I’m doing in my job. For now, it is great having the Platinum forum to bring parts of this to the screen on my laptop at least..

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