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Author Ashley Jones
I hope that this article will cause some interesting comment and debate.
I have been a trainer of some sort or another for 30 years, for the last 15 years I have been involved in the physical preparation of professional athletes, I am just learning to ask the correct questions and I am far from finding the answers but a few concepts I have come to believe are 100% truth:
To quote from my great colleague Peter Harding, “you are there to train, not entertain” and “complicate to profit”, there are people out there that make a very simple job extra complicated, cut away all the hype and all the commercial emphasis and just get fit, fast and powerful. There are not many strength & conditioning coaches who have an established philosophy of training, they often bounce from new idea to fad and often “throw the baby out with the bath water”, remember as someone once said “if you do not stand for something, then you will fall for anything”.
Great players and great team coaches make people in my position look good, people often ask why are the crusaders so successful, they have a great culture, they recruit people with great character, they work hard, was the strength & conditioning program partly responsible, who knows, it helps when you have the current 2 best players in the key position of 7 and 10 in your team at the same time, combined with the coaching genius of Robbie Deans.
How do you get your team faster? Simple recruit faster players. As Fred Hatfield says “nuff said”.
Do you know who Arthur Jones is, if not do your homework, and read about one of the only true innovative thinkers and writers in the strength business, he dies last year at the age of 80, he invented Nautilus, he had an opinion, you may not agree with it but have a read and decide for yourself, www.arthurjonesexercise.com
I do not believe in over training but under recovery will get you every time.
I no longer believe in Periodisation, in a classic sense, I believe as Louie Simmons has often said, “what ever you do not train you lose”, so for me the concurrent training of the key biomotor qualities is a challenge whilst ensuring player’s are recovered.
Rugby is a collision sport. Sometimes the rules go out the window, did the gladiator’s of Rome ensure that the pelvis was in the correct position before they engaged in a life and death struggle. Player’s often take upwards of 5 days to recover from a match, I have player’s who have done no leg work for an entire season and who still deliver every week of the season, conversely I have had player’s who work hard every week in the power rack and these also deliver week in and week out, there is no one generic program and individualization within the confines of a team sport is the Holy Grail of strength & conditioning.
I could list you a starting 15 of player’s who are outstanding in the gym, but they would not be the same 15 chosen by the coaches to go to battle on Saturday.
My basic philosophy is get player’s strong & powerful, metabolically capable and as quick as they can be and then give them to the head coach to show them what he wants them to do. Does anything that I do transfer to the field, to tell you the truth I do not know, confidence transfers, physical and mental toughness transfers, so hopefully a part of what I do helps a player to give his best on the field of battle.
Do I make a difference, I hope so, but I really do not know, it is all about relationships, building them, developing them and the player’s knowing that you genuinely care about there well being as people first and athletes second. I trained as a PE teacher initially since there was no other course around for old guys like me, but teaching taught me two invaluable traits in my current role, communication skills first and foremost and also organizational skill, I may have been chasing my tail ever since on the science but knowing your player’s has always been number one in my book.
If I had my time over again I would change just one thing I would do a pure science degree first, to get a complete grounding in a scientific discipline, whether it were maths and physics, my personal favourites, then I would do a master’s or doctorate in Biomechanics, and a diploma in teaching along the way as well.
For those entering the profession, thank you for carrying the torch, it is a wonderful rewarding career, and for those of you who have been in it for a while keep doing what you do best, and to you all keep it simple, never lose your sense of humour and always have fun.
Hi Ash, never a truer word spoken.
We here at Getstrength.com have been posting your articles online now for over 4 years I personally have read every article and Q&A post top to bottom sometimes more than once, I would have to say this without doubt has been the most powerful article you have ever written, feel a bit lost for words.
Thanks for all the help and support over the years.
“Train harder, recover faster”
Outstanding article, if only more strength & conditioning coaches thought like you did. I would also like to say that I have found your articles and the website in particular a massive help in my short career to date. Hopefully one day I will be in a position like yours and also be able to meet you and talk shop!
Thanks for the word of wisdom!
Tom (Tom Mclaughlin, Bristol Rugby Club)
Cheers Steve, with the passing of my father last week I guess I am in a very contemplative and reflective position at the moment and a lot of those ideas have needed to be said for a long time, so now they are out I hope others will take a chance and reflect on what has gone before them and where the future will take them but I prayer that all of you will live in the NOW, thanks, ash
Thanks Tom, it is an honor to be able to reach out and assist young coaches, “with position comes responsibility” someone more learned than I said that once and I could not agree more, I look forward to chatting in person one day, keep moving forward, ash
I’ve read this a few times now Ashley and there are some great thoughts and ideas there … I’m throwing in few of my unqualified thoughts!
I think this is probably one of the biggest hinderences to young coaches … they look at the complicated and believe it to be the secret when there is no secret! There is a chinese saying something like …. “When hungry eat rice wise men understand, but fools laugh” … when you have a slow athlete make him fast so make him run fast, a weak one get him strong so make him lift heavy stuff … that advice doesn’t make you a millionare – but are you in it for profit?
Great qoute. Overtraining is a complete red-herring in my humble and inexperienced opinion. I suspect most overtraining and burnout occurs in bars and nightclubs – not in the gym!
Periodisation is dead and either Louies philosophy or the idea of vertical integration are the ways forward – especially since off-seasons are reduced more and players have less time off during the week.
Rugby is a contraindicated sport. What aspect of rugby is supposed to be good for your health?
I often say there is no such thing as a contraindicated exercise just a contraindicated athlete. In otherwords if they have pain doing one exercise then the athlete has the issue – not that the exercise is necessarily bad. If you work on a farm do you warm up with 4 warm up sets and make sure you have a perfect posture before you lift? Doubtful.
When you have 18 stone and 6′ 3″ of blue murder running at you from an angle of 42.4 degrees on a wet pitch and you are leadong off your right foot -Do you have time to digest all that and decide how your TVA is functioning?
Coaching is still an Art not a Science!
Up and coming artists rely on science to give him confidence – rightly or wrongly.
Train like Tarzan play like Jane?
I used think coaches were like sales men whose job it was to sell a concept or training program to an athlete … now I think we are more like teachers or fathers who have to inspire a love and willingness in the player to do what you beleive is best for them. After all … inspire them and they will far outreach whatever you thought you could push them to … treat them like a sales pitch and try and sell them something and you will only ever make one sale.
Thanks Fergus for picking up the ball and running with it some wonderful ideas there, could not agree you with you more, when I first started it was all about the science and i am sorry to say a lot about ME, now it is all about the art of getting people to do extraordinary things and it is all about them, they know their bodies better than ever I will so they indicate to me what they can do and when and then we plan based on that, cheers, ashley
“if you do not stand for something, then you will fall for anything”
This is something I have been guilty of in the past. But not any more thanks to your guidance Ashley. I am very grateful for all of your help to date mate and was sorry to hear about the passing of your father. I’m sure he was a great man.
Cheers Adam, really appreciate your kind words, we gave him a grand send off, I am sure he woudl have liked it, cheers,a sh