I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks in Auckland and Sydney last October. I was fortunate to meet some great people who were very passionate about athlete development and high performance. These included Dr Craig Harrison-Program Director AUT Millennium Academy, Graham Robson- High Performance Manager at High Performance Sport New Zealand and Mike Rennie Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Sydney Swans AFL team. While the time there was limited it was worth while none the less.
Performance in general fascinates me whether it be individual or team so it was interesting to see different views and ideas from people who assist high performance at different areas, levels and sports. In AUT Millennium you see kids between 7 and 12 years of age come at 7am for their pre school athlete development sessions. I like their program design process where they link movement to performance with the aim of greater application from the young athletes. This was aided further by the equal emphasis on both serious training and fun in each session.
In HPSNZ the emphasis is on continual improvement, with realistic goals/targets been set. It was interesting how they co-ordinate the different aspects of a high performance support team be it psychology, coaching, or strength and conditioning. It is a ruthless process at the highest level in that as a coach you can do everything you to make an athlete better but that athlete might not want to get better or be the best they can be! There comes a point then when you decide the athlete is the issue and not the program so you must get rid of that athlete and move on…
In Sydney then i got a different angle where i got an insight in the the physical preparation of a professional AFL team. I learnt plenty but at the same time it was reassuring to see Sydney Swans have some similar systems or processes to inter county training back in Ireland. A big emphasis on movement, pre-hab, monitoring of training load and wellness but most importantly the conditioning and coaching was interlinked. The players were been prepared to meet the demands of their specific roles plus the teams playing or tactical systems.
Irrespective of how long you at this game there is always something new to be learnt and that is what make it both fascinating and enjoyable.
Merry Xmas to all.