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My 8 year old son Archie plays in the under 9's.

He's one of the top 3 biggest kids in height (unlike his dad - he's already up to my chin) and probably the heaviest (thick legs and glutes like his dad - he's as heavy as I was when I was 12/13).

He's done 4 years of Auskick and a part year of under 8's last year before this year but he loves the training nights far more than the games.

Alas he's played every game this year where getting him to play them in the past was a battle each week.

My philosophy on youth training is forever changing but the principles remain the same:

- Make It Fun

- Teach more "concepts" than specific skills

- Make It Fun

- Design drills for them to explore the concept where it doesn't have to be sport specific at all

- Make It Fun

- Make it slightly more difficult than their current level

- Make It Fun

If you're focusing on setting your defensive zone at any age under probably 16 than you might be coaching for your success over your players development...just say'in. 

Last week I put up a series of videos on Instagram that we've done over the course of the year:


If you've ever attached any form of junior footy you'll know it;s a mass pack all running after the 1 ball!

Archie's coach Cliff has a team rule in the forward line to find space so I set up this drill to train it.

I simply make a circle type shape of space among the cones than he has to turn, find the space, run to it and put his hands up all within 5secs.


Another Cliffy rule is to get the ball and with Archie's size he should be able to go into almost any pack and rip the ball from any kid in there, as well as bulldoze his way through most of them as well.

In this video I'm simply teaching him to hit me with his hip/side as he picks the ball up then to sprint away as fast as he can.


Archie has my genetics something shocking making continuous running a nightmare for him but because he's so stocky, he hasn't quite got he coordination to move his body quickly either so to get him to do some running means I've got to disguise it into something else sometimes which we do with the cones in these next few drills.

More fun entails with a goal kick at the end of each run




Youth training doesn't have to look like a game of footy and sometimes doesn't even have to be footy related.

Essentially you're developing their OVERALL motor skills such as balance, coordination and vision which form your game and without developing them at a young age, players will have gaps in their development that they might not be able to catch up on.
Remember, coach for your players, not for you!
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An article from track coach great Vern Gambetta popped over at his site HMMR Media this very morning on hamstrings.

It's a short brain dump piece with the premise being that AFL probably has as much research into hamstring injuries as any sport on the earth, yet injury rates are still on the rise.

I replied on Twitter in point form and thought I'd expand a bit further on my points here.


Years ago I had a mammoth email chain with a now ex-TAC strength and conditioning coach and the 1 thing that still sticks in my mind from it was this:

"AFL teams want to push you to your threshold and see where you break, then rebuild you up to a greater level then previously"

This weren't the exact words but pretty close.

I'm not going to say that AFL teams are reckless in player management or class players as expendable but there is an attitude to try and get as much work as possible into each and every player, as often as they can and sometimes at the expense of re-injury.

Joe Daniher had pretty much a full year off, a heavily modified pre-season that resulted in re-injury anyway, then came straight back into the AFL only to be out for the rest of the season again because of the original injury within 6 weeks.

The same season ending, non-contact injury 2 years in a row?

Not good enough.


The TAC system is the elite under age football league in Australia but it's only elite in the fact that it's the highest level of under 18 football but that doesn't necessarily make it elite.

Paul Roos while on On The Couch one week a couple of years ago said:

"Let's look at t this way...the Sydney Academy has 30 kids and it's an elite environment at under 18 level. My (Roosy's) son joined the Sandy Dragons this year and at his first training session there was 80 kids which is too many and that's not an elite program."

Don't get me wrong, the coaching and strength and conditioning staff do all they can with what they have but the ex-TAC coach I mentioned above was doing this part time for bugger all money considering the time he had to put in, and relied on his real job to pay the bills.

I think we should return to AFL clubs having under-aged teams like they did in the 80's/90's so that all players can have access to an elite environment and coaches plus teams will be able to employ more support staff as well.


Each year we have some bolters going into the draft like the kid who came on late, played a ripper back half of the season and now gets drafted into the AFL off the back off it.

The issue is that this kid probably hasn't trained hard/long even at under 18 level to reach a relative high level of fitness, leaving him very vulnerable to when he starts training with his AFL team.

AFL teams do take draftees playing/training age into account and a lot of them do about 60% of the senior pre-season training load but there;s a lot more that goes into player load then simply running.

If a player hasn't done a lot of weights in his life until then then that type of stress will be a new stress to their body, and a new stress is almost the highest stressor you can encounter (we all remember how sore we were after our first gym session).

On top of that they have a shitload more tactics to learn on top of the pressure of being an AFL player and not wanting to let you, your family, your friends and your club down.

Which leads to me point 4...


Its always been in the AFL system (Ken Hunter in the 80's) but mental health is a huge sporting and social issue world wide.

Australia is relatively small compared to other nations but the coverage of AFL is probably bigger than any other sport in the sport and there is nowhere to hide.

With no development league from under age football to senior ranks means that kids that aren't at senior level in regards to physical and psychological ability, get left behind.

Even then a player might get drafted because physically they are far more developed then the other kids and just dominate games at the under 18 level, but psychologically need work but not necessarily with the pressure of being the number draft pick to a struggling club who need them to be superstars right away (Jack Watts, Tom Boyd)

A development league would be exactly that - a place to stay in the system but provide room for physical and/or psychological development at each player's level.
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I'll be the first to admit that I know sweet FA about soccer and never watch it but I do read a fair a bit about the different coaching and learning methods used for soccer development at all levels throughout Europe because those things can be translated to all sports.

I read this article and it had some absolute gems in it but just so my non-soccer bias wouldn't creep into my thoughts on this, the first point I made in my summary was "FC Barcelona coach and won everything", just a note to remind me to maybe read this a few times to get all the juice from it.

Here were my other notes...

- Warren Buffet, the world's greatest investor, says that if you want to recruit a leader then they need to have the energy to see the task through, they also need to have the intelligence to be smart enough to know what needs to be done and then the integrity with the ability to be able to role model the correct behaviours

- Energy and intelligence looks good but don’t touch them as they might become toxic to your culture as they will often be clever enough to get away with it for a long time

- Trademark behaviours have to be non-negotiable (humility, hard work, team first behaviours)

- You’re never more powerful than before you start the job because you’ve not lost any games so that’s the time if you have a clear idea of what you want to create to go like a bull out of a gate

- Negotiate for what you want before you start working towards the goal rather than coming in and reacting to situations

- Find your cultural architects (leadership group for on and off the field)

- Spot opportunities to fashion the environment you want such as if you want everyone to stick together off the field then put meals on for them to get to the club early and to stay later

- Identify 2 – 3 keystone habits you want everyone in your team to nail and perform and then apply feedback loops that you measure relentlessly

- He uses the 5 second rule where the idea is that when you lose the ball the opposition are at their most vulnerable for the first 5 seconds so it’s high intensity pressing making life intolerable/uncomfortable for them

- He also focused on possession where if you retain possession of the ball for 70% of the time you’ll have an 85% chance of winning and they used the Rondo Ball drill to train for it (I think I made up a footy version of this somewhere)

- Give players evidence such as “we’re going to measure what your possession stats are in training because we need to retain possession for 70% of the time” then you give the consequence of “If we don’t do that we’ll lose” so you get people to change their behaviour to invest time in training and to really focus and switch on for training

- Create your own cultural symbols that reinforce the behaviours you stand for but don't do things the All Blacks do because it’s not “you” and it ends up as a gimmick - you want more something in line with the North Melbourne/Shinboner spirit mantra
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- Reduces player uncertainty when they play thus providing more time for creativity


- As a team sit you and your players down and allow everyone to be vulnerable because once everyone does that then you can create an environment that becomes a culture of acceptance

- Top teams and individuals thrive outside of their comfort zones

- Having comfort in uncertainty is 1 method of managing stress


– Once you have reached a point of diminishing returns with traditional loading (volume + intensity) then your only true means to continue adaptation is through variation (repetition without repetition)

– Too much max effort gym work can create governs/limiters on your brain and can rewire how you contract muscle
– In Basketball a player at the top of the key passes to another player at the top of the key who than cuts diagonally through to the corner to compress space on 1 side of the floor
- This opens up space for the player with the ball to drive down the opposite side of the key
- Alternatively you can have 3 players at the top and the 2 passing players do a double diagonal cut to the corner leaving even more space for the ball player to drive into
- For footy you ideally want forward players leading/compressing the thin side leaving ample space to lead into and to be able to kick effectively, to the fat side

– Designed for soldiers to be able to sleep under any conditions

- Worked for 96% of those who tried it for 6 weeks but nothing will happen until week 2

- Sit on the edge of your bed in the dark

- Tighten up your facial muscles then slowly let them loosen/relax and let your tongue fall any which way in your mouth

- Once your face is fully relaxed, let gravity pull your shoulders naturally towards the ground and let your arms dangle 1 side at a time

- While doing all of this breath in and out letting your chest relax more and more with each breathe and let gravity relax your thighs/lower legs

- Once you're totally relaxed try to clear your mind for 10secs

- If something pops up let it pass and keep your body loose/limp and after a few seconds your mind should be clearer

- Now picture 1 of 2 scenarios

- Scenario 1 is of you lying in a canoe in a calm lake with clear blue skies above you

- Scenario 2 is you in a velvet hammock gently swaying in a pitch black room

- If you’re not a great visualiser then chant “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” x 10secs

- At this point you should take about 2mins to get to sleep
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- More reps equalling better execution is not right as task improvement stops after only 3 reps and task accuracy decreases after only 5 reps

- Don't look for perfect practice as growth only occurs from mistakes

- Limiting reps maximises player intent which in turn increases focus and effort

- Quality reps are what matters

- Improve execution by maximising intent and debrief as necessary while training more in chaos instead of a vacuum

- Successful skill execution of elite athletes in sport is defined by their ability to adapt their technique to the specific game context

- Block training is good for initial skill learning but random training forces the brain and body to adapt

- As a result of this information he changed from practicing specific tasks in 10min blocks to completing 3 perfect-max focus reps and moving onto something else


- Formation is the game's starting positions

- Players need to know their positioning at all times

- Movement of the ball influences player movement

- Players will move around the ball when it stops

- Effective offensive play will display good initial positioning and smooth player circulation to allow the ball to be put into space which creates time

- Move as much as necessary, not as much as possible


- Isolate the player in possession from their teammates

- Guard their teammates in a way that terminates their role in the offense

- Dispossess/win the ball back
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This almost chase down but kick affecting run by Jason Johannisen was astonishing:

I have just racked my brain to an inch of it's life working out the angled run here but I got some closish figures for this sprint.

Using the length/width of the center square, the length of the Marvel Stadium ground thus enabling to estimate the distance between each grass cutting, I was able to get the timed below.

Also I started his run from the half back edge of the center square.

#1 - Center Square Edge to Grass Cutting 1

- Width x 14m

- Length x 11.39m

- Total Distance x 18.04m

- Time x 2.02secs

- Meters Per Second x 8.93 (ave)

#2 - Center Square Edge to Grass Cutting 2

- Width x 17.5m

- Length x 22.78m

- Total Distance x 28.73m

- Time x 3.61secs

- Meters Per Second x 7.96 (ave)

#3 - Center Square Edge to Player

- Width x 18.5m

- Length x 28.2m

- Total Distance x 33.72m

- Time x 4.23secs

- Meters Per Second x 7.97 (ave)

#4 - Grass Cutting 1 to Grass Cutting 2

- Width x 4.5m

- Length x 17.08m

- Total Distance x 17.68m

- Time x 2.21secs

- Meters Per Second x 8.00 (ave)

#5 - Grass Cutting 2 to Player

- Width x 1m

- Length x 5.69m

- Total Distance x 5.77m

- Time x .62secs

- Meters Per Second x 9.31 (ave)

It should be noted that this was deep in the last quarter and he managed an ave m/s of 9.31 in the last 5 - 6m but I'd love to see how far over 10m/s he registered earlier in the run via his GPS.

As always speed is king because if he can't even hit 10m/s fresh, then how is he even gonna get close to Patty Dow running down the wing?

He doesn't and then Dow can take another 2 running bounces, kick an easy goal on the run from 40 - 50m out and the Bulldogs lose.
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The more I've studies the nuances of player preparation for AFL and sport in general, the less importance, or should I sat time devoted to, I place on traditional strength training.

That being said the holy grail for most team sports is power.

Not strength.

Not hypertrophy.

But power.

That's not to say strength and hypertrophy aren't important but on their own they are simply part of the bigger picture.

The equation for power backs this up:

(Force x Distance) / Time = Power (watts)

The force part is the strength side power.

A bigger muscle has the POTENTIAL to create more force so it's a precursor of sorts to increased strength (but not always).

The time factor is the what 99% of footballers are missing.

In team sports EVERYTHING is a race.

You're constantly in a race of some form whether it be to get to the ball first, make a decision faster then the opponent or to physically assume a position to shrug a tackle or at least get your hands free to give a handball off.

Having the force part is not enough in most cases because force is slow by it's very nature.

Force is high force/low velocity.

I tell ya what, video yourself doing a 1 rep max bench press vs a bench press at max speed at 30% of that 1 rep max.

Have a look at the time/s it takes you to complete the lift in full as well as well as breaking down the eccentric, isometric and concentric portions of the lift.

Light loads promote speed.

Power is usually displayed at force levels of about 30 - 40% of your max force number so it's pretty much moderate force/moderate velocity.

Velocity is displayed at 0 - 20% of your max force number so it's low force/high velocity.

Ideally you want to be able to optimise your strength and speed somewhere in the middle which is where my videos below come into play.

The first video is a complex I did last week of Seated Military Presses paired with Push Press Throws in the vertical push force vector.

The Military Presses have been worked down over a number of weeks from a low force load (80% ish) to a low power load (30% ish).

AFL Training - Seated Military Press + Push Press Throw - YouTube

Without explaining my full program for this (maybe later if anyone asks me nicely), the power exercise potentiates the velocity exercise (velocity is low force/high velocity).

The second video is a complex of Bench Press paired with Shot Put Throws doig the exact same thing but in a horizontal push force vector.

AFL Training - Bench Press + Shot Put Throw - YouTube

The information posted above might be new to you but it's not the secret to building literal explosive power but here's it is:


In any exercise where the load does not leave the hands there is a LOT of declarative action going on which is a protective mechanism built into the nervous system so you don't throw your shoulder out.

If you're using an exercise to build acceleration/explosiveness then you DON'T WANT ANY deceleration aspect to that exercise at all.

By throwing or releasing the load then you are building acceleration throughout the entire exercise resulting in high velocity release speeds.

That's why I used the throwing exercises above.

If you don't have the room for the throwing exercises in your gym then there's not much you can do for the vertical push movement but you can still do a bench press throw in a smith machine or barbell style like this:

AFL Training - Bench Press Throw - YouTube

You might need to build your confidence and accuracy with this one!

Give this a shot in the back end of the season to peak your power output in time for finals action.
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I want to go back to my post earlier this week detailing the game from the weekend just gone - a potential watershed moment not just for my long struggling football club, but myself personally.

I am in my 33rd year of football this year and am currently in somewhat of a learning stage.

From about 2014 - 2017 I played reserves football exclusively.

I started at the club as a backman in 2011 as the designated kickerouttera (that's a word) but the reserves moved me forward after a couple of reserves games thinking my giant arse and hips could do some damage forward.

During that tie I topped our goal kicking table 3 years in a row and lost by 1 solitary goal in the 4th year (playing finals each year) so I suppose it worked.

I was pretty much full forward or deep forward depending on who else we had down there with free reign to do what I wanted as far as positioning was concerned.

I had changed my game a full 180 degrees I suppose.

Early last season I was brought back up into the seniors, 1750 days after my last senior match where I thought my senior playing days were long over.

I'm not sure why I couldn't get a look in during that time but we had a decent senior team part of the time there and probably wasn't an ongoing spot for me there plus I have a hard time training with my work hours being 6 - 8 morning and evening.

I wasn't grumpy about it or anything but never the less I stayed ready just in case.

We were a basketcase last year with more injuries than any team in history (32 unavailable on 1 particular weekend!), we didn't really recruit much from the season prior and the top end of our league (div 3) went through the roof where the premiers are sitting on top of the ladder in their new division (div 2) as we speak.

We were originally still be in div 3 ended up back in div 4 to eliminate the bye in div 3 while giving our own club a chance to regenerate.

In the end we've probably got as good a team as we did last year in a lesser division so I was unsure where I'd be placed for this season - 1's or 2's.

I did most of the pre-season team sessions as well my own training doing 5 - 6 sessions per week from September to March as I normally do so I was as ready I normally was. 

The biggest difference though has been my role within the team.

In the 2's I was 1 of if not, the main target up forward which sounds odd coming a 168cm near 41 year old but I'm strong with a solid build (78 - 80kgs) and I'm still pretty quick so I can out body a similar sized defender and out run a bigger defender.

In the 1's though it's completely different.

This season we have 6'6" and 6'4" targets in there and another mid sized forward who's very strong in the air so there's no marks for me - I think I've taken 1 in the forward 50 this season.

We also play 2 deep and 4 up for the most part to give our talls 1on1's so I'm not playing as close to goal as I have recently either.

As a result my game has to (re) expand to have any influence on the game.

My tackling pressure has to be there constantly, chasing pressure too.

Ground balls in traffic have been a theme this year, at a higher level with bigger faster players.

Most of my possessions in years gone by were shots on goal pretty much but that's dried up with our playing style  - I've had 10 scoring shots this season for 5:5 - but only 1 set shot where in years gone by I would have 3 - 5 set shots per game.

As far as the 4 co-actives of performance is concerned - physical, tactical, psychological, technical - everything has been turned upside down and I'm still trying to nail all those things above and more to be as effective as I can each and every Saturday.

By staying ready physically, I can meet the demands of the game as far as speed is concerned.

By staying ready tactically and knowing our team structure/s, I can easily be inserted and trusted by the coaches to perform at my position thus my very late interchange onto the ground last weekend.

By staying psychologically ready between games and within games, I have been able to do most things when they needed to be done this season, even with spasmodic playing time.

By staying ready technically which I have gotten back through training more season then I have for years, all of the 3 other co-actives are enhanced.

The point of my earlier post was not to pump up my tyres or that I won the game for us (jeez far from it  - there were blokes who 100 x more things I did last weekend) but it was about staying ready and also how what I have to do for the team right now to help them win is 180 degrees different then what I had to do 18 months ago.

The last 5 minutes of Saturday's game showed me personally that all of that is slowly coming together for me displaying that you should be analysing and learning from every single game you play.

Will I stay in the seniors when we get our full strength team on the park which we haven't really been close to yet?

Right now I'm still not sure as I place myself somewhere in the 20 - 24th man area depending on what the team needs for balance that particular week but if I do get dropped back to the 2's then my game will be turned upside down again but I'll stay ready for the call up if it comes.

If any of you would like to post a little half season assessment of your season so far, or would like PM it to me feel free.
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Saturday just gone we played the undefeated top team for the 2nd time this season as there's only 8 teams in our comp.

In round 1 it was a total disaster for us.

We had I think 8 new players in the senior team.

We've had a totally new defence strategy we were trying to implement.

We were 4 down before half time including the captain and 2 vice captain's and our best run and carry player sitting at full forward for the 2nd half.

The scoreline was disappointing at best.

Fast forward 7 weeks later and we've won 5 on the trot and we now had them on our new home deck, totally the opposite of their paddock out in the sticks.

We had 4 of 5 out from the previous week including our captain again but were still confident our style of play could get the job done.

At quarter time it was not looking great with a 4 to 1 goal first quarter to them and us struggling to get anything happening at all.

They kicked another straight out of quarter time and it was 31 - 7 or something.

No more goals were scored by either team as we just needed to get the game back to evens, which we did.

By shutting down their scoring we still believed were a big chance if we can now get the upper hand in the 3rd quarter, which we did by scoring the first 2 goals pretty early and it was 15pts of so the difference.

By the mid last quarter we were a goal and a bit down and the last 8 or so minutes had been ball up after ball up and a stalemate was going on.

I'd had no influence so far in this game, being on and off as usual as our small forward rotation in a low scoring game.

With 15mins gone in the last quarter and me thinking I probably won't get on in this quarter, the assistance coach (last years senior coach) made the executive decision to get some speed up forward and brought off our back up ruckman for a 40yr old midget.

After 3 - 4mins of stalemate play again I sprung into action.

I spoiled, or stripped their ruckman of a mark from our kickout then managed to smother a kick of theirs going into their forward 50.

2mins or so later on one of their blokes got a loose ball an came at me a million miles an hours and I managed to stick the tackle and take him down - I used to do them all the time but as a deep forward I hadn't done a tackle like that for years so I was happy I was able to make it.

The resultant free kick had me going inside 50 to our 6'6" full forward who drew a free kick fro holding the man, such as the full back coming up to his chin, and he scored a goal to put us 2pts up or so.

We knew there wasn't long to go but we had to set up with the 6-6-6 so we were gonna flood back as soon as the ball up went.

As you can se from the video, Alby got the clearance and the opposition decided to bump instead of tackle him (weird) also falling over in the process.

Alby whipped the handball out to me and I turned and again kicked long into 50 to Mundi who I knew would be close to goal 1on1, so all I had to do was kick it to advantage and he'd do the rest.

He took the mark on the boundary line pretty much but we have very deep pockets so shots from the boundary aren't as bad as normal, he snapped it and we were up by 8pts or whatever.

The siren went not long after and we'd come back from 4 goal to beat the top undefeated team - as food a win as the seniors have had since I've been there.

In those 5mins or so I racked up about 25 Supercoach points and had an influence on us winning the game.

Mundi probably doubled that though as I think he scored 3.1 on his own in the last as well as some other touches - he's a freak that man.

We got the 2nd top team after the break who also gave us a touch up earlier in the year so it doesn't get any easier in the short term.

Videos from Insta below:

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Tuesday nights Archie has Karate so I can't attend my team training sessions so I'll head to the local footy oval or athletics and do sprint session like an actual sprinter would do.

None of this incomplete rest BS, actual training with the focus on getting high QUALITY work which is the ONLY way that you can get faster.

Here's the exact session I did earlier this week.


AFL Training - Sam Portland Glute Circuit - YouTube

I did 14 reps of each exercise for each leg for 1 round.

#2 - WARM UP

I did some impulse and switch work doing alternate split stance ankle jumps x 25m, 1 switch x 5 each leg, squatty run x 25m, 2 switch x 4 each leg, squatty run into sprint x 25m, 3 switch x 3 each leg

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Troy Lange (@aussierulestraining) on May 30, 2019 at 10:56pm PDT


I did 3 x 25m sprints w/ about 4mins rest in between them.

I would usually do 4 - 5 sprint sets but I've had this nagging cough for 2 weeks now so I gotta take it easy until that's gone.

And that's it.

I mean sprint sessions are the easiest sessions you'll ever do but they have the greatest return as well - if you do them properly.

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