My disdain for those that position themselves as Gurus usually manifests quite passively – I just ignore them.

However, as I feel my social responsibility grow, it has become apparent that there are certain groups of people (think: young coaches, impressionable parents and developmental athletes) that need guidance to ensure their ‘hard earned’ isn’t handed over to the (usually self-proclaimed) Guru.

Below are some heuristics to help you decide if you’re being advised by a Mentor or are following another Guru.

  • Gurus create Disciples They see themselves as a messiah, giving their followers a ‘mission’ to spread their word.
  • Mentors create Mentees They will offer guidance but encourage the Mentee to think for themselves. A ‘show you where to look, not what to see’ approach.

 

  • Gurus say ‘Follow Me’ And then create a ‘us versus them’ mentality.
  • Mentors say ‘Create your own path’ And ‘I’ll be there when you need me’.

 

  • Gurus focus on the differences Being ‘revolutionary’ allows them to charge more.
  • Mentors focus on the similarities For example, in strength training there are effectively only 3 methods: Maximal Effort, Dynamic Effort and Repetition Effort. The rest is marketing.

 

  • Gurus are only comfortable if you’re behind them If you’re the messiah, and others pass you, you’re no longer the messiah.
  • Mentors are excited for you to surpass them They have a ‘Pay it Forward‘ mentality.

 

  • A Guru will charge you A Guru’s reward is extrinsic – watching their bank account grow.
  • A Mentor will invest in you A Mentor’s reward is intrinsic – watching you grow.

 

  • Gurus give you Rules Black or white. Right or wrong. No middle ground.
  • Mentors suggest Principles After years of experience, they understand that life is more grey than most appreciate.

 

  • Gurus advertise themselves You know the picture: shirt off, mostly barefoot, ‘look what my program did for me’.
  • Mentees advertise their Mentor Whether it’s social media, their own website or word of mouth…

 

  • Question the Guru and you’ll be blocked or vilified Sometimes you’ll be both… Often by their disciples.
  • Question the Mentor and you’ll be praised And if they don’t have the answer they’ll sure as hell go find it

 

Hopefully these heuristics will help you decide who you should be taking advice from.

And hopefully some Gurus will pull their head in.

In High Performance Sport, it is not uncommon to hear about players undergoing physical testing. It often involves some type of speed, endurance and strength tests. These tests are performed after approximately 6 to 8 weeks, and are used to assess both the athlete’s improvement and the effectiveness of the program.

This philosophy works well in many sports, especially those with a genuine, and substantial, off-season. Tennis, however, is set up very differently. Players, even junior players, can easily enter up to 40 tournaments a year. There is very seldom a block of time that lasts the required 6 to 8 weeks for the program to take effect. And what happens when you have reached the end of that time period and the player has not improved as much as planned? What then?

At the National Academy Queensland (NAQ) the program is set up slightly differently. While we do have scheduled comprehensive testing dates, there is a greater emphasis on ‘tracking’ – performing exercises on a regular (weekly) basis that we believe show us how the player and the program are working.

While these tests might not all be valid and reliable in a scientific context, we have found them to be a great indicator of improvement on court. This article has been written after almost 4 years of working with some of the best junior players coming out of Australia.

The exercises we have chosen are listed below, with a short brief on how and why we use them.

Height & Weight

Working with developmental players we have found that tracking height and weight adds valuable information into the training programs. During growth spurts volume and/or intensity is reduced, and there might be a change in expectation in progression.

Since we know that we are taller in the morning, and shrink slightly during the day, we take height measurements as late in the day as possible. It is never recorded until a decent warm up, mobility, and gym or tennis session have been completed.

Due to daily fluctuations of weight we have found that taking weight more than once a week is unnecessary. We also only record to the nearest 100 grams.

Vertical Jump

Experience has shown that the Vertical Jump (VJ), or counter-movement jump, is an effective test to evaluate athleticism – the higher the VJ, the better the athlete. We have also found that improvements in the VJ have lead to coaches reporting that the player is a ‘better athlete’ or is ‘moving better’.

The VJ can also be used to evaluate fatigue. A sudden drop off of more than 10% may be an indicator that the player is slightly overtrained (or, more correctly, overreached). This is not necessarily a bad thing – often programs are designed with the intent of fatiguing the player, and then later to freshen them up. Just make sure that the expected VJ result mirrors the true VJ result.

We aim to have all our players reaching their Personal Bests (PBs) leading into their most important events.

Triple Hop

From a standing start, the player hops as far as they can 3 times. The distance from their toe (from the start) to their heel (3rd landing) is recorded. This is performed at least 3 times on each leg.

We are fortunate to perform this on a sprung gymnastics mat. This stresses the developmental bodies less than a hard surface, like concrete or a court. Rubber matting also works well, as does a flat grass surface.

The information collected should be in centimetres. We round off to the lower 5cm – i.e. if you jump 524cm it is recorded as 520cm – to reduce the human (eyesight) errors that might occur.

This is a great evaluation tool because it is not only used to assess performance and show bilateral deficits, it can also be used in a return from injury manner.

Take the case of an injury to the lower limb, or even the back. The coaching and rehab staff has access to the distance the player was hopping within a week of the injury. They will also have the player’s PB. Using this data, they can set some comprehensive goals and guidelines for the player. For example, they might say that the player can only return to hitting once their Triple Hop (TH) is equal to 60% of their PB; and return to match-play conditions when their TH is 90% of their PB.

All this information can be used to help the injured/recovering player return to full fitness.

Chin Ups

At the NAQ a ‘chin up’ is defined as having a supinated grip, while the ‘pull up’ has a pronated grip.

We use the chin up in our Tracking so that we can compare our youngest members of the academy with the older, stronger players.

We use the chin up to evaluate the strength of the ‘pulling muscles’. It also seems to correlate quite highly with speed too, probably due to the fact they are both related to relative strength (i.e. the ability to exert force in relation to body mass).

Some of our best performers in the chin ups have been our best performers on court:

–              Jason Kubler, age 15,  (former ITF No. 1) – 24

–              Ash Barty, 15,  (Junior Wimbledon Champion) – 13

–              Naiktha Bains, 13, (National u16 Champion) – 17

–              Priscilla Hon , 13, (National u14 Champion) – 18

30 Second Push Ups

The 30 Second Push is used to evaluate the power, strength and endurance of the ‘pushing muscles’. The weaker the player, the more this is a ‘strength’ test. For example, a player who can only perform 5 push ups, this is a test of strength.

As a player’s strength improves it shifts towards a power-endurance test.

We perform this test with the player’s hands gripping a barbell, which is lying on the floor. The idea behind this is that the stronger players actually pull themselves towards the barbell in an effort to increase their reps.

Just before Jason was transitioned to the AIS program, he was clocking over 40 push ups in the 30 seconds!

Other Evaluations

Over time, and depending on the ages of our academy players, we have also used the deadlift (with a trap bar) for 3 reps; the bench press for 3 reps; and a 1.3km run to track our players’ improvements. These tests have had some correlation with improvement on court, though not as strongly as the aforementioned tests.

You’ll notice that that the Tracking protocols are easy to perform and have limited equipment. They are also easy to record. This means that a coach or academy can monitor a large number of players in a very short time.

Good luck with implementing this, and if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

How much training should my child be doing?

The above is a common question that is asked, debated and pondered by Coaches and Parents a like.

The short answer is either ‘we don’t know’ or ‘it depends’.

In other words, we seem to have some ‘grey’ answers for a ‘black and white’ question.

Some of the variables that might affect the answer include:

  1. Chronological age (how old are they?)
  2. Training age (how long have they been doing the sport?)
  3. Physical maturation age (do they have adult features or are they yet to reach puberty?)
  4. Emotional maturation age (is their reaction to a situation congruent with their age?)
  5. Mental maturation age (how well can they process information?)
  6. Peak Height Velocity (are they going through a growth spurt?)
  7. Injury history (how has their body responded to their training)

Unfortunately ‘it depends’ doesn’t suffice when we are looking to make actual decisions, so before we explore some answers let’s first acknowledge some of the consequences of doing too much too soon.

 

Dangers of Early Specialisation

The American Medical Society of Sports Medicine considers sport specialisation “as an intensive, year-round training in a single sport at the exclusion of other sports”.

While there may be some initial gains in performance for the young Athlete by specialising early, there are a range of potential negative consequences that may arise:

  • Increased risk of burn out
  • Increased risks of overuse injuries
  • Decreased performance (possibly due to overtraining)

So looking at the research, what ‘Take Home’ answers can we provide?

 

1 Hour per Year of Age per Week

No more than 1 hour per year of age per week. For example, an 11 year old tennis player shouldn’t be training for their sport for more than 11 hours per week.

While some Coaches and Federations think of this as an approximation, in my experience, this is the upper limit: ‘No more than 1 Hour per Year of Age per Week’.

This includes every minute of every session that is geared to improve that particular sport: home stretching program, gym training, running, etc.

If, on the other hand, they are running in the school cross-country race because they enjoy it and it’s not to improve their (‘primary’) sport, then go for it.

 

1 Day off a Week

A mental and physical break, this is also known as a Sport Free Day, this needs to be locked in.

No training, recovery, stretching… Even aim for no sport-specific discussions!

A suggestion is to aim for that day to be a Sunday, however, if Sundays are usually when that sport holds a tournament, race or competition, choose another day.

A second suggestion is to earmark another day during the week that can be used as a ‘Back Up’ sport free day (often a Friday).

The Back Up comes in handy during periods of stress (e.g. school exams), when tournaments, races, competitions or camps are held on the proposed Sport Free Day or if there are any other signs of overtraining.

 

A 1:2 ratio of Free Play* v Organised Sports

Think of it this way: for every hour the child plays (actively, outside – not with any form of TV, laptop, tablet or phone screen), Earns them the Right to have two hours of adult-led coaching.

For example, if our hypothetical 11-year old tennis player is to have 11 hours of coaching and training per week, they should be accumulating at least 5.5 hours of free play through games like tag & touch football & backyard cricket & skateboarding & red rover & force ‘em backs & hopscotch etc. with their siblings or mates every week!

In fact, there is a suggestion that the tennis players who ‘made it’ spent twice as much time practicing without a Coach than they did with a Coach.

This makes sense to those of us who believe that ‘ownership’ and ‘independence’ may have a role to play in future success.

It also makes sense to those of us who understand the detriments of repetitive movements on young bodies.

So instead of filling your Child’s week with training sessions, apply the Earn the Right Principle: for every hour they practice, play or compete by themselves (note: totally self driven!) they can have a Coach for two hours.

[Please note: this is not a contract with the young Athlete, rather the mindset of a responsible adult.]

 

Lock in the S&C

This study suggests “all youth should be involved in periodised Strength and Conditioning”.

Depending on the 7 variables above, most children should have between 1 to 3 Strength & Conditioning sessions per week that are included in their weekly workload maximum.

The goal of these sessions should be multifaceted: enhance movement quality; improve resilience to stresses; decrease risks of injury; and decrease ‘imbalances’ and should include jumping, running, pushing, pulling, throwing, hopping, squatting, lunging, bracing and any other movement you can think of!

Remember the process is 1) Build a healthy Person; 2) Build a healthy Athlete and then 3) Build a healthy Sportsperson.

Too many Coaches are interested in the Sportsperson phase when they should be focussing on the initial phases.

The temptation, especially during or just after stressful periods, (e.g. a National Championships) is to drop the S&C sessions, when in fact, these should underpin the program.

 

Putting it Altogether

Step 1: Decide on the Upper Limit of Weekly Training (no more than 1hr/year/week).

Step 2: Lock in the Sport Free Day (and pencil in the Back Up day – the one that training on that day can easily be cancelled).

Step 3: Estimate the hours of Free Play (remember the definition?). Double that to calculate the hours of Coached sessions.

Step 4: Prioritise the Strength & Conditioning

Step 5: Give it 6 weeks and Revaluate

And if there was another step: Just make sure you’re surrounded by people who don’t put their egos ahead of any Athlete.

*Free Play is defined as “freely chosen, personally directed, and intrinsically motivated, i.e. performed for no external goal or reward”.

 

Further Reading

Read enough popular books, blogs and magazines on fitness and you’ll inevitably stumble across a piece on goal setting. Much of the information presented is correct – make them measurable, specific and have a timeline. So far, so good.

There is another well-intentioned tip to help you achieve said goal: tell people about what you want to achieve.

The idea behind this tip is to hold you accountable. In other words, by telling your friends, family and work colleagues your ambitions they will motivate you and keep you on track if you start to deviate.

While this sounds good in theory, a recent study proposes that this is not the case. In fact, the researchers suggest that the opposite is true – those who told others their goals were less likely to achieve them.

Initially this does not make sense – surely the more people who know what your goal is the more help, guidance and motivation you can get? And no one wants to be seen as a failure, correct?

Psychology Professor Peter Gollwitzer would disagree. He is the primary author of the article ‘When intentions go public: does social reality widen the intention-behaviour gap?’ According to his research, people who keep their intentions to themselves are more likely to achieve their goals than those who announce them.

Our brains struggle to differentiate between ‘reality’ and ‘imaginary’, and also between ’talking’ and ‘doing’. It seems that when we tell someone what we want to do, and they acknowledge it, we start to feel good about it. We also feel that we are already closer to our goals than we are. These good feelings diminish the drive to pursue the goal and we quit sooner than we would have.

So next time you set yourself a goal, keep it to yourself and bask in the glory once you have achieved it, not before.

Did I save their program under ‘Bill’ or ‘William’, “Peggy’ or “Margaret’? Were those testing results from this preseason or the last preseason? Was that a ‘physical test’ or a ‘physical screen’?

One of the characteristics of good coaches is that they reflect. They reflect on their interventions; on their programs; on where they succeeded and where they let the team down.

And part of that reflection revolves around trawling the data they collected.

However, it can become very frustrating, very quickly if one doesn’t have a system for saving that data.

To help prevent you from having to undergo the same frustrations I thought I’d share my ‘system’ – nothing special, but it does work.

Filenames should have 3 aspects: Type of file, (sur)name of the athlete and the date.

 

Types of Files

This is not whether it is a Word or Excel file but rather whether it is a ‘Testing’, ‘Screening’ or ‘Program’ file.

These three simple categories can already help save time when you want to retrieve the files.

Obviously one could add further categories (Psych, Medical, etc.) or break each category down further (In-season, Pre-, etc.)

Name of the Athlete (Where applicable)

Tip: The surname of the athlete is the key!

When you have worked with large squads, trying to remember whether it was saved under ‘Bobby’ or ‘Roberta’ can be an avoidable aggravation, especially since your computer is unlikely to list them close to each other.

MORE: 10,000 Hours – Don’t throw the baby out…

On the other hand, if the files are saved with the surname first, one can quickly find the file they’re looking for.

Oh, and don’t use nicknames! Particularly if there is a possibility of sharing the files with colleagues

 

The Date

While using the date is not uncommon, it is important to realise that there is a specific format with which to write the date: YYMMDD.

Every time! Grouping the files that were saved on the 15th of the month is seldom more beneficial than grouping the files that were saved in the same year.

Knowing your computer will order the files numerically means the file saved on July 14th, 2013 (with the filename: 140713) would be listed after the file saved on December 10th, 2013 (101213).

So change the above-mentioned files to: 130714 and 131210, save time and hassle.

In conclusion, all good coaches make the time to reflect on the coaches. Make this process easier by having the information that has been collected stored in a simple, systematic manner: Type Surname YYMMDD.

EOTC is a series of reflections, thoughts, anecdotes and growth spurts that have occurred in my coaching career.

Some of these will show wholesale changes in direction while others might just be a continuing refinement.

Hopefully you can either learn something or identify from this evolution.

 

From Highly Recognised to Highly Valued (Or Extrinsic to Intrinsic) 

Up until 2007 (ish) every professional decision I made was geared to working in the SuperRugby or NRL (Rugby league) comps.

Part of this was due to loving both sports but I would not be able to refute the proposition that I wanted it as some form of recognition, a form of validation if you will.

Reflecting honestly, I think it might have been driven by the fact there is media hype (though I haven’t chased this), or maybe because of the relatively small number of teams and positions create an aura of exclusivity… Whatever the underlying desire, the point was it was an ego-driven goal.

In other words, the goal was extrinsically motivated.

Accepting a job working with Tennis players deviated from my goals but challenged my coaching (no clearly defined off-, pre- and in seasons; a skill dominant sport; individual; huge travel component; etc.) and I enjoyed it more than I expected.

As I grew and matured as a Coach, that previously mentioned desire, that ego-driven aspiration to be recognised morphed into an appreciation to contribute.

I realised the it didn’t matter who I was working with, or what the program looked like, it mattered that they (the Patients, Clients or Athletes) achieved their goals.

Helping a housewife lose weight, or a businessman recover from plantar fasciitis, or working with club rugby gives me the same intrinsic joy.

While the planning might not be as detailed, I am fortunate to get my ‘high performance’ challenges through the Athlete preparation side of the business (PropelPerform will have at least 6 Athletes representing Australia in their respective World Championships in the following 4 months). 

So when people ask me to work with an Athlete, organisation or family member my first response is ‘I am happy to work with anyone who wants to work with me’.

Intrinsically satisfying.

No ego (well, maybe, less ego)… : )

For parents, the instinct to provide our children with ‘every available opportunity’, while admirable, may inadvertently be impeding their desire to achieve.

Think of this desire to achieve as a thirst. And as soon as that thirst is quenched, so is the desire.

This is captured in the oft-used quote in athlete development circles:

The easiest way to ensure a young athlete never makes it is to make them feel like they already have.

In over 15 years over of working with young athletes, I have seen this too many times.

Coaches are not blameless either.

In an effort to appear ‘professional’ we over-cater, we pamper, we end up softening those aspirations.

One way to prevent this from happening is to adopt the ‘Earn the Right’ principle.

This principle ensures the athlete only receives that which they have worked for.

In other words, they work for it first and receive it second.

Below are some common examples of the Earn the Right principle in practice.

Supplements

Almost every teenage boy, with a slight interest in physical fitness, wants to take supplements.

Many times they are researching what products they want and pressuring parents to buy them before they have trained more than a handful of times.

My athletes still have to ‘earn the right’ to use them.

The first thing to understand is that the first few months, even years, of training will garner improvements with or without supplements.

For athletes over the age of fifteen my ‘earn the right’ principle is that they must adhere to the following:

  • Get your diet sorted first
  • At least forty weeks of two times week training per year for two years. (This is in addition to the sport they are training for)
  • No fast food for at least two months prior to buying the supplements
  • Eat fast food and they are off the supplements

Private (or extra) training

Some kids want to have some personal training or extra coaching and it may seem like a good idea to give it to them.

If they are paying for it then that is fine.

If you’re paying for it then I suggest they ‘Earn the Right’ by:

  • Training and practicing by themselves (research suggests that athletes that ‘make it’ spend twice as much time training without a coach than those who don’t ‘make it)
  • Researching (think: Google, YouTube, etc.) how to improve on their own
  • Hanging out with older and more experienced athletes in an effort to learn as much as possible

The above-mentioned actions demonstrate that the young athlete is craving more, and not just because ‘mum and dad are paying for it’ but because it is their deep-seated desire to progress.

New equipment

It’d be naive to suggest that young athletes do not suffer from envy.

This can be particularly true in sport where equipment is expensive and there is a definite hierarchy in name brands.

However, at the developmental level, rarely is equipment a factor in improvement.

Dedicated practice, total engagement, owning their training and the ability to ‘hang in there’ are far greater factors.

So in the case of wanting new equipment, they need to be showing definite actions of maximising the preceding four characteristics before an upgrade in equipment is even mentioned.

Take Homes…

While we may want to help every step of the way, it is better for our kids and athletes if we apply the ‘Earn the Right’ principle.

In closing, please note that not one of the ‘Earn the Right’ suggestions is performance related.

Nowhere was it suggested that winning a race, or getting onto the podium, or beating a particular athlete had ‘earned the right’.

Rather, each suggestion was about the process, something they kid or athlete could control themselves.

Earn the right via process not performance.

While working with a National Sport Organisation I was approached by a parent who suggested that National Sports Organisations shouldn’t be involved in the development of their sport.

Paraphrasing Upton Sinclair’s quote it was difficult for me to accept his argument when my salary depended on him being wrong*.

Over the duration of my employment I began to realise he might be correct: National & State Sports Organisations shouldn’t be the primary source of development of the Athletes in their respective sports, not directly anyway.

7 Reasons NSOs shouldn’t directly be involved in Athlete Development

For the sake of this article I will use the term ‘NSO/SSO’ to refer to National or State Sports Organisation; and ‘funding’ interchangeably with ‘scholarships’ or ‘selection’.

I also differentiate between Athlete Performance (e.g. the National team) and Athlete Development (aka the ‘pathway’).

1) Our (Path) Way or the Highway.

Whether it’s through the National Head Coach or High Performance Manager, typically the NSO/SSO will have only one pathway for development. And the attitude seems to build that anything outside of that pathway is wrong or, worse, ‘contra’ to what they are trying to achieve.

This Pathway often has very few entry points.

Athletes that don’t fit this Procrustean Bed are often neglected or left behind.

 

2) Targeted Athletes have the Inside Lane. Again. And Again. 

Wild cards into events… Team selections… Extra funding…

Athletes who have been given funding early on tend to get second and third chances.

In fact, many observers note that sometimes it is harder to get out of the ‘system’ than it is to get in.

Of course, this is understandable on two fronts. Firstly, the decision maker who first offered the Athlete the funding wants to be shown to be correct. There is a certain amount of pride on the line.

Secondly, and probably most likely, the Decision Maker will have a better relationship with that Athlete, have a better understanding of their journey and possibly have a greater commitment to their improvement.

 

3) All on Same Page (or Increasing Fragility

It’s every NSO/SSO’s objective to ‘get everyone on the same page’.

As one of my respected colleagues once whispered to me ‘What if it’s the wrong page?

This is a particularly valid question: why do the Decision Makers imply there is *only* one page for success?

Who is to say the Decision Maker encouraging everyone to follow them is going in the correct direction (bearing in mind that this direction will naturally include certain Athletes and exclude others)?

Something interesting to note is that the Page often changes, not with the addition of new information but with a change in Decision Maker.

In other words, the Page is more about the Decision Maker than it is about the current information.

Heuristic The only people who need to be on the Same Page are those that are immediately surrounding the Athlete: Coach, parents, S&C, psychologist, etc. – and even then, some fresh ideas from ‘other pages’ are most likely a good thing!

 

4) Only Athletes that fit the Description get Funded.

Often, a NSO/SSO will have a certain paradigm of the Athlete they are looking for. This paradigm could be physical (a certain shape or specific abilities), psychological (for example, competitive or relaxed), technical or tactical.

This Ideal is usually based on the current world leader/champion. If this is indeed the case, at best the NSO/SSO will get a copy of an original.

How many tennis coaches wanted their players to hit ‘heavier’ when Nadal was at his peak? Or how many rugby players were instructed to kick like Johnny Wilkinson post the 2003 Rugby World Cup?

Rephrasing the same questions: how many tennis players and rugby players were discarded from their national programs when they couldn’t mimic Nadal or Wilkinson in their respective sports?

Often, in similar cases to those mentioned above, the focus is on what the Athlete cannot do relative to the world leader/champion rather than what they can do.

 

5) Athletes Train but not Compete.

Some NSO/SSO set their programs up where the Coaches train the Athletes then release them to play for other clubs or teams. In other words, the Coaches are not accountable for the performances of the Athletes.

The worst, but all too often, scenario is that Coaches start to coach towards KPIs/Excel spreadsheets, ensuring ‘Gym Numbers’ go in the right direction with little consideration of the Athlete’s performance.

I once had a phone call from a NSO/SSO Coach informing me a mutual Athlete had to decrease his skinfolds. The fact this Athlete had been presented four consecutive Man of Match awards did not interest the Coach – his Excel sheet showed the Athlete was above the average in skinfolds measurements and this was deemed more important.

 

6) It’s not just the Athletes… Coaches too. 

When there is a ‘Our Pathway or the Highway’ paradigm, not only do a certain type of Athlete have the inside lane but certain types of Coaches too.

Independent thinkers are seldom valued in these systems.

Coaches who coach in a particular way choose Athletes who compete/look/play/train in a particular way.

The underlying message is clear: it you don’t fit our mold you’re on your own. This mantra often gets translated into ‘be like us, or be against us’.

 

7) The ‘What About Me?’ Complex

“She got selected into the program but I beat her at Nationals”… “My ranking is higher but he got the funding”… “They gave us some money but I heard they gave them more”….

The final reason that NSO/SSO shouldn’t be the primary deliverer of Athlete Development Programs is not the fault of the NSO/SSO but a natural, almost inescapable consequence.

When funding, wild cards & selection are not based on black and white criteria, and is based on someone’s perception (i.e. grey and fuzzy) there is bound to be some backlash from those who missed out.

 

Conclusion

To sum up the above 7 points, when the NSO/SSO take on the responsibility of Athlete Development it immediately becomes a ‘Top Down’, instead of a ‘Bottom Up’ scenario.

It becomes Fragile (when we should be chasing Anti-Fragile).

And the younger the Athlete the NSO/SSO aims to get in their program the exponentially worse each of the above points are.

* For those interested, after much thought, I agreed with this Parent while still employed by the NSO.

I even proposed a similar version of this article (with a strategy that would eliminate these criticisms) that would have made my position redundant.

“The reason you have that injury is because you have a muscle imbalance.”

“Oh, I have some questions…”

  • Did you compare peak force or average force?
  • Did you use yourself as the testing instrument? How do you know it’s not your muscle imbalances we’re testing?
  • Is it structural or functional?

 

  • What ROM did you use?
  • Were the muscles/movements measured at the same velocity?
  • What muscle contraction type did you compare? Concentric to concentric? Eccentric to eccentric? Concentric to eccentric? Eccentric to concentric? (You get the picture).

 

  • Is the imbalance a strength issue? Speed issue? Skill issue? Endurance issue? Rate of force development issue? Or a fear issue?
  • Was it in a seated position? Prone? Supine? Standing? Walking? Running? Cycling? Bracing?
  • Is it a cause of the injury or a symptom of the injury?

 

  • What would you say was my level of arousal during the test?
  • Did you use an isolated test or an integrated test?
  • Assuming the muscle crosses two joints, which joint action did you choose to test?

 

  • For my sport/position/body type/chronological age/training age/ etc, what should the ‘ideal ratio’ be?
  • How do you know that athletes in my sport don’t succeed because of that supposed imbalance?
  • If I do have an imbalance why didn’t the injury happen sooner?

You are responsible for ANYTHING & EVERYTHING in your body.

Some thoughts & heuristics regarding Supplements:

1) If it’s promises seem too good to be true, don’t take it.

2) If it’s a ‘pre workout’, don’t take it.

3) If it’s made by a company that doesn’t sponsor a NRL, AFL or S15 team, don’t take it.

4) If it’s not made in Australia, don’t take it (A study suggests 1/4 of all US supplements are either contaminated or don’t have what they claim to have).

5) If you don’t need it, don’t take it.

6) If it was sold to you by a Gym Junkie, don’t take it.

7) If it doesn’t have the ‘Informed Choice’ or the ‘Informed Sport’ logo on it, don’t take it.

8) If you’re not sure, don’t take it.

 

Below is a link to the current (January 2016) WADA Prohibited List:

https://wada-main-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/…/wada-2016-prohibi…

And some information on Prohibited Substances and Methods.

https://www.asada.gov.au/…/prohibited-substances-and-methods

ASADA Help Line: 13 000 ASADA (13 000 27232)

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