Strength training is now becoming widely accepted as a way to improve sports performance in sports that require high levels of speed and power but is still only just making its way into endurance sports.
Many people have studied the effects of concurrent strength training and endurance training programs and the results are quite beneficial in terms of endurance. Basically strength training can help improve endurance by preventing injuries, reducing the amount of time the athlete spends on the ground during running (ground contact time), and increasing the lactate threshold. Increasing the lactate threshold is of importance in my opinion as I find too many people are overly concerned with Vo2 max when it comes to endurance. Having a superior Vo2 max doesn’t mean that athlete will win come competition. If you have a high lactate threshold you can still outperform someone with a better Vo2 max than you. Obviously there are many other factors that come in to play such as mental toughness and will power etc.
Strength training can also help endurance athletes during certain parts of their race whether it’s at the start to get into a good position, during the race to “kick” away from the pack, or for a sprint finish.
Endurance training on the other hand does have a negative effect on strength and it seems to affect power output even more. High-intensity endurance training can also reduce short term anaerobic performance. Now this doesn’t mean you won’t make any gains if you perform endurance work and strength training simultaneously it just means that you may not get the same increases in strength as you would if you trained primarily for strength. In one study a difference of 15% was seen, so you have to prioritize the amount of time you spend on each component of training depending on the demands of your sport.
I often see and hear young kids talking about how they have a player manager or how one of their teammates has one. They speak like they are on their way to the NRL now because of signing with someone. It is understandable. They are young and just excited but you have to keep things in perspective and realize that having a manager isn’t the answer to you progressing through the ranks.
If you want to get selected in teams or have options of clubs to play for, then the solution is simple. Be the best. If you are the best player in your comp then you will have contract offers. You don’t need a player manager for this. This is the most effective way.
If you do have a manager then it is still the best way. Your manager can then do the negotiations for you and get the best deal possible. It is also good if you or your family aren’t confident to ask for more money, or don’t even know what to ask for.
Player managers don’t make money on young kids. So it is a numbers game for most of them. Get a lot of kids signed up, hope their natural abilities get them through to some higher grades, and just see who rises to the top. That is then where they can make some money. It is just the nature of that industry. I think it could be different but it can’t be your full-time gig if you are being selective with who you have on your books or if you don’t already have a top liner or two making some really good money.
I am not saying managers are bad people or that you shouldn’t have one.What I am saying is that if you are a young bloke you should be focusing on increasing your performance and not thinking that just because you have a manager you will achieve all your desired goals. Managers can only do so much. They may be able to get you a trial at a club they have a connection with or something like that but all they can do is get you an opportunity. The rest is up to you. Also help them out by being that good so that they can “sell” you out there. I hear disgruntled players saying their manager wasn’t good or something along those lines, basically blaming them for where they are in their career. Think of it like this. If you were really that great do you think someone wouldn’t have just come and asked you to sign with them? Even if your manager sucked and you were killing it, you would more than likely be at a club playing the grade you wanted to.
In saying that, some managers do suck. It’s like everything. You have good ones, average ones, and bad ones. To me, the worst is when you are just a number and a name on an email list they send around to clubs when you are off contract. If you walk past your manager and he doesn’t even recognize you to say hello, then I think it’s time to find a new one and probably someone without as many players.
If a manager has a heap of top liners it is unlikely he will have much time to put into a young 15 year old. If some of their players are making $500,000 a year he may get $30,000 out of each of them. That is his priority. It pays his bills. So if you are a really highly rated 15 year old you may get the support you need because they need a new wave of players coming through. But if you are just ok, you may not hear a lot from him or you will get an off-sider. So know who you are signing with.
Your future is in your hands, not theirs. At the end of the day they can guide you a little bit but ultimately decisions made still come back to you. They may even get you a gig at a club but when you dig into it further you may not feel it is the best place for you to be at or go to. It is ok to speak with your manager about this and sit down and decide the best path for YOU.
To sum up, if you have a manager that is good, if not, it doesn’t matter. Be the best player in your position, your team, your comp, and things will take care of themselves.
Yesterday I went out and watched some rugby league, Harold Matthews trial games. It was good to see the young blokes ripping in and doing their best but there were a few things that stood out from the day.
The first, and most important in my opinion, is physical preparedness.
Strength levels are far behind where they need to be for this age group. You can see it in the way they run, the way the try to cut and swerve, the way they absorb impact, the way they get off the ground, and the way they jump. Sure coordination plays a role in this so some of them may have missed the boat on that as coordination tends to be developed by age 12 but I still see strength as the biggest limiting factor.
And this doesn’t mean size. The biggest kids are often the weakest. Sure they can crash through the defensive line a couple of times in this 16 year old age group but you watch them run and their knees are knocking, their hips are all over the shop, and they struggle to control their body weight in general.
So a lack of strength is number one. Why? Because this will lead to injury and also it will limit how far you can progress in the sport. It is ok if you can handle your current age group but for these kids, next year they have to play and age group above themselves again. It is a big jump as you could see easily yesterday with the S.G. Ball warming up. The physical difference is enormous. Sure you will grow naturally in that time period but you can’t rely only on that. If you are Ball age then you have to be able to physically compete with 20s. Then you make that age group but now you have to be ready to play men, and the best in the world.
You have to start training, and training correctly. There are many muppets out there who have no clue how to physically prepare athletes, no matter how much they claim they do. It takes a long time to build strength. It isn’t a 12 week thing, it is a lifelong one. So you don’t have to be at NRL standards right now but you have to be on your way.
The next thing is conditioning. Majority of players are too unfit. They are lazy and don’t do their job in defence. They find short cuts and hide. This is the biggest thing I saw on the day outside lack of strength.
The problem is they come into off-season so far behind that it doesn’t matter how much work the coaching staff can do with these players at training they can’t catch up to the level of conditioning that is required to perform on the field. They could do conditioning for an hour every training night and it would only just get them to the required level. But then how is their actual league performance going to be? Will they have learnt anything about the game? How to defend correct, what lines to run? Etc. NO.
This is the problem at this age group and with the lower grades in rugby league. Coaches have to waste valuable training time doing conditioning instead of focusing on the rugby league itself. The other problem is that even if you come back fit then you end up doing more conditioning then necessary because of the unfit players in the squad holding everyone back. It never made sense to me and still doesn’t. When I coach, if you are fit and meet the standards required for your position and style of play, then you don’t do conditioning, you spend your time on skills, or if you need more strength we focus on that. You will burn these fit guys out and injure them and you still may not even get the unfit ones up to scratch. So you have to prioritise. The unfit blokes can get flogged at the end of training. People say “but its team building”. Fuck that. If you were worried about the team you would get yourself up to par. That is team building, catch up to the front runners, don’t bring them back to your level because you aren’t willing to get uncomfortable.
The third thing, which ties into both of the above, is nutrition. This isn’t even a concept in about 98% of their minds. You can see from their horrible body composition. They would eat whatever they like and think it is fine. Well, that is why you aren’t fit enough to get around the field and also why you aren’t strong enough. Fat doesn’t contract. You carry around worthless weight. Even the kids who look ok, they would be deficient in so many nutrients. You can see this by the lack of training drive, how poorly they recover, and also the amount of cramps, strains, and tears they get to name a few things. Most are also dehydrated. They don't drink enough water.
So to sum this up, you don’t have to be at the level of the world’s best at 16, but you have to be on your way. You have to be doing the things that will allow you to one day potentially be the greatest in your sport. That starts with nutrition and proper strength and conditioning. Those things are totally in your control. There is no reason your nutrition can’t be on point and same as your conditioning. Strength will take a bit longer but you can just be starting when you are 18 or 20. It is far too late.
What is considered good nutrition and strength training is very much debated but it has to be tailored to your needs and it will constantly change depending on many different things. So source out people who have done what you want to do and who have had repeated results with others.
Don’t listen to blow arses one week out of University or someone who has done one weekend seminar.