Thursday, 17 November 2011

Intro to Strength & Conditioning from EMCN Pro Fitness

Strength and Conditioning is undoubtedly one of the main areas that many athletes strive to improve during the season to gain that extra advantage on the playing field. However a big mistake that the majority seem to make is concentrating on bodybuilding style training which concentrate on a single joint, single muscle group exercise.
Some of these exercises have their time and place for building ...muscle size in the gym but in terms of improving athletic performance can prove detrimental for athletic development and flexibility. In combining a proper S&C program along with the appropriate Nutrition results can be immense.

Whether an athlete improving performance for sport or someone looking to tone up/lose weight, Nutrition is the key to kick-starting health before trying to get results. Getting the right foods on board at the right time can manipulate the body’s hormone levels and produce an advantageous anabolic state(increase muscle size and mass) or debilitating catabolic state(breaking down of muscle).

In the next few weeks I will be talking about some important exercises for power and athletic development as well as nutrition tips for performance and weight loss.

A key point to remember for any athlete looking to improve their level of performance – Get Healthy – Get Strong – Get Fast

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

‘The Commute’ – Planes, Trains and Automobiles

After the recent RTE show ‘The Commute’ based on the commitment GAA players have to make to play for their clubs, it got me thinking of the scenario in Derry, where clubs have to fly players home regularly for training and games. 

This season Drumsurn were rarely able to have a full training session.  My own club Slaughtneil also have players working across the pond.  I was chatting to players from Claudy and lot of them including county player Marty Donaghy were working overseas.

More recently I was chatting to a player from Craigbane, who also have players studying and working in Scotland and England.  Here is the story of Aidan Kerlin:

My name is Aidan Kerlin, I am a student at the University of Glasgow, studying a Bachelors Degree in Primary Education. However, more importantly I am a member of the current Derry Intermediate football champions, Craigbane GAC.

Although most club players within Derry have a short, straightforward and laborious commute to training and matches. Myself and three other students on the panel have the added dilemma of crossing the Irish Sea in order to be part of the continuing success of our club. Paul Sharkey is studying at Northumbria University in Newcastle, while Noel Reilly and David Lowry are both at Liverpool John Moore’s University.

This ongoing commute has been the case for the last seven weeks, due to the overlap between our continuing season and the beginning of the university year on the 19th September.

Once we overcame Slaughtmanus in the quarter finals of the championship on the 10th September, we were aware that travel arrangements had to be put in place in order to be part of the ongoing season with Craigbane.

The next date on our GAA calendar was the championship semi-final with Drumsurn on the 24th September. Admittedly, this was a hard period of time for all of the students on the team, having to turn down the appeal of the annual Fresher’s Week festivities. However, we were aware that the prize of competing in our first county final was the reward. Thankfully keeping fit was not an issue, pre-season training with our various university teams helped to keep the fitness ticking over.

I have now become extremely familiar with the inside of airport terminals, train stations and early morning alarm calls in order to get home every weekend.

My weekly routine consists of a alarm call on a Friday morning, a quick bite of breakfast and a 20 minute walk to the nearby Glasgow Central train station. This is followed by a 50 minute train Journey to the remote Glasgow Prestwick International airport.

Here it is a waiting game for approximately an hour before we can begin boarding. Ironically, the quickest part of the journey is the flight itself; a quick 15 minute journey takes me across the Irish Sea and into the City of Derry airport.

From here it is a lazy day, reading the Gaelic Life, Derry Post and Irish News from the previous week to pass the time until training at on Friday night in Craigbane.

Next stop was Celtic Park, with Drumsurn the opponents. After a well documented shaky start we overcame Drumsurn to book our place in the county final against Swatragh. With Monday morning comes the commute back to Glasgow for another week of study. This commute is the same combination of trains, planes and airport terminals as the Friday adventure.

This commute has been repeated on numerous occasions since the start of the semester, including the county final win against Swatragh.  This was followed by a league victory over Ballerin days later.  Next up was Swatragh in the league semi final.  Then in was on to the Ulster campaign and a quarter final victory over Kilclief of Down.

The next week, it was back to the domestic scene, the  league final with Steelstown and this success puts us into senior football next season.  The most recent chapter was a win over Carrickmacross of Monaghan in the Ulster semi final.

However the continuous travelling can have its positives also, a few home cooked meals and a weekly batch of clothes been washed is a nice luxury to have.

Thanks to the financial support of the club and the ongoing success on the pitch, the travelling back and forth to university is a small price to pay for a great year with the club. And with the Ulster final still to contest, I look forward to another journey home.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Where is it all going wrong?

Before putting this blog entry together, I gave serious thought to the content I make available.  After what happened a well known intercounty footballer recently, I have given all the people mentioned in this blog entry aliases.  I don't want to 'cross the line' and get removed from the panel.

It's half time in Celtic Park, it’s championship quarter final day and the dressing room resembles a war zone. 

The physio is treating Tony the midfielder on the treatment table.  He suffered a back injury in the last kick-out of the half.  On the other side, the team doctor tries to stop the blood pouring from Paddy, the centre back’s busted nose.  Two players are blaming the referee, the man who struck Paddy should have been sent off.

In the shower area, Joe, the kitman brings out a fresh set of jerseys for the second half, the first set soaked from the deluge of rain.  Once the juice, jaffa cakes and water have been distributed team manager Liam gathers his thoughts. How has his team ended up two points in arrears after dominating the midfield exchanges?

The scoreboard reads 0-7 to 0-5.  Does he take off the two corner forwards?  Does he play two men up front on their own to create more space?  Are the corner backs not up to scratch?  Half time doesn't last long and soon there will be a knock on the door, failure to be out on time will result in a fine. When the last two players return from the toilet, the manager addresses the troops.

It's time to find out exactly where the game is being lost.  One of the management team takes out his iPhone.  During the first half he has been keeping stats using Dartfish Easytag (see screenshot).  They are winning at midfield and the forwards have only registered one wide. 

The problem is simple.  Too much possession being lost, including 7 misplaced fist passes, elementary errors. For the second half Liam urges his team to get back to basics.  We can’t have another series of failed attacks in the second half.

We have a strong midfield, a 'keeper with a great kick-out and a dangerous full forward line.  We need to eradicate the simple mistakes and get the ball forward early.  It is also stressed that the forwards need to keep making the runs to create space.

So within the space of 10 minutes a set of agitated players are now totally clear of what is required.  This is the power of some structured feedback.  A mindless ranting session at halftime can be replaced with a simple structured set of instructions for the second half. 

It doesn't need to be information overload as players are knackered and only take in limited information discussed during the interval.

From the screenshot, you can see quite a range of items.  The person taking the stats, depending on how much practice they have had, can record quite a bit of information.  However, remember no matter how many stats you take account of, the key is picking out the key ones to get across to the players.

As the players trot out for the second half they need to be totally clear of the plan for the second half.  Championship games need players with a calm head, there is an increased chance of better decision making when the game is in the melting pot.  Then at Tuesday night's session the information can be reinforced, giving the players a target for the next round.

Liam’s team will face the parish rivals in the semi final, whom they have not beaten in the last four meetings.  This is definitely a half time period that will need calm heads and clear instruction.

Have you any experience of team feedback at half time?  Let us know via the Comment Section below.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Phil Richards Internship - Day 5 - Putting it all Together

Our last day consisted of combining knowledge of every area we have studied in the last week and being able to blend it into our athletes programs at specific times.

Phil explained and demonstrated how to take body fat percentage from a 10 site skinfold and put this into a software program which will enable calculations to be done.

This program also effectively allows the design of individualised programs with ease and keeps records of athletes progress over a period of time. We finished off the day analysing blood under a high powered microscope and Phil was able to point out what an athlete is deficient and lacking in their diet.

All in all an amazing week with one of the worlds greatest sports nutritionist and strength coaches. One that I certainly can take away a lot from and hopefully be able to change peoples lives for the better!

Phil Richards Internship - Day 4 - Olympic Lifting

This morning we had the pleasure of meeting and being coached by 3 legends involved in Strength training and Weightlifting. Glenn Ross (World Masters Strongest Man), Ray Williams (Wales Weightlifting Coach and Commonwealth Gold medallist) and Neil Taylor (England Rugby Union Head Weightlifting Coach).

Already having learnt the benefits from Phil Richards about weightlifting for sports performance we spent a full day going through the Olympic lifts in practice with tips from each of the men, before we got to see Glenn produce the 83kg dumbbell which he was able to shoulder press 14 times and still holds the World Record!

Already feel more competent in being able to carry out these lifts and be able to implement them into programs. last day tomorrow putting it all together and Program Planning.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Phil Richard Internship - Day 3 - Reclaim your Health & Field Conditioning #2

This morning we covered one of the hottest topics in not only fitness but also in the eye of the general public as to how to gain good health and a happy disease free way of life.

Interesting to see what are the best foods to eat, what cooking does to our food and from a current GAA aspect the possible link between certain foods and drinks towards Sudden Death Syndrome and heart problems. Great to learn about which vitamins and minerals do what job and what levels we need for our body to be working at its best.

Early afternoon we had a practical field conditioning session on Swansea Rugby Club pitch which involved drills exceptional for fat loss, strength endurance and all over body conditioning. Easily just as tough a session as yesterday but with a bit more knowledge about supplementation and the timing of certain foods pre and post, the energy levels were through the roof throughout.

Later we finished off with learning about some other methods of strength training and seen the 8-12 week programs Phil had prescribed for athletes such as Amir Khan, Worcestor Warriors and Harlequins.

Looking forward to getting into the Gym tomorrow with big Glenn Ross and 2 World Class weightlifting coaches.

For more information follow @emcnprofitness on Twitter.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Phil Richards Internship - Day 2 - Strength Seminar & Field Conditioning

First class day learning about various methods of strength training from a number of the worlds greatest coaches, how to implement a program for athletes in different sports and how to reach beyond the barrier so many people seem to get stuck at.

The afternoon consisted of what can only be described as a brutal field conditoning training session. An unbelievable carry over to all sports and in particular field sports which work on developing strength endurance and high levels of conditioning.

Finished off the afternoon with supplements and why Phil has had to specifically design products to meet the demands placed on us during sport and exercise.

Looking forward to another tough session tomorrow!

Phil Richards Internship Day 1 - Speed Training & Nutrition

Great opening day with Phil Richards on internship in Swansea. Discussed in depth the reasoning behind speed training how to apply effectively and dismissed some of the myths and types of drills that does NOT work. Also had a practical session with an Olympic sprinting coach and some techniques used for a powerful acceleration and how to develop to top speed.

Nutrition information by Phil blew me away. Very important tips for competition eating, pre and post training including some amazing facts about the quality of meats we eat, water we drink and so called healthy foods we think we consume. Very intriguing as to how the timing of certain foods pre/post exercise can manipulate hormone production and how this can result in increase or decrease performance.

Cannot wait for tomorrows Strength seminar and field conditioning practical session. Pictures and report to follow!
For more information follow @emcnprofitness on Twitter.

EMCNProFitness Reports from Swansea

Eoin McNicholl
Eoin McNicholl (on Twitter @emcnprofitness) is going to be contributing to The Sporting Corner this month, on the area of Strength and Conditioning.
Here is some backgorund on EMCNProFitness:
  • Personal fitness training 
  • Weight Loss
  • Tailored fitness programmes
  • Strength and Conditioning
  • Individual or group sessions
  • Nutrition advice and programmes
  • Advice and provision of supplements tailored for specific needs
  • Motivation
  • Proven track record
  • Lastest and up to date training techniques
For more information on services or to arrange a FREE consultation please email or call 07763163371
Phil Richards
This week Eoin is attending a strength internship by Phil Richards in Swansea.  Phil runs a company Phil Richards Performance.  Here is a bit about his background.
Phil has worked with, and consulted for the best in premiership rugby, premiership soccer, super league, county cricket, boxing, cage fighting, athletics, weight lifting, strongman, golf, swimming and triathlon.  All at the highest level of professional sport.
More details are available at his website.
We will be adding Eoin’s entries to The Sporting Corner as the week goes on.