Insights from Essendon AFL Club

USP - Insights from Essendon AFL Club

One of the great things about being a strength and conditioning specialist in the Sports performance Enhancement industry is meeting like minded individuals! Following on from Sam Michaels invitation to train with Essendon as a top up player I was fortunate enough to catch up with Essendon Strength and Conditioning Coach Paul Turk to talk shop. The Essendon coaching staff were extremely impressed with Sams physical condition given the fact he had not undertaken pre-season training with an AFL club and had sought out our services at USP to physically prepare him for the football year to come.

Joey Hayes, Sam Michael and Essendon Strength and Conditioning Coach Paul Turk

Sam’s peak physical condition was evident when he clocked up 16km in 3 quarters of footy!

Sam Michael signs with Essendon Bombers AFL Club
Sam Michael feedback regarding Joey Hayes and USP Training Programs
Sam Michael signs with Essendon Bombers AFL Club

One of the perks of the industry is connecting with various coaches and specialists.

Check out the 12 insights that were gleaned with our time at the Essendon Bombers AFL Club.

  1. Free weights and olympic lifting comprise the majority of the strength and conditioning program. It’s well known these lifts create bigger, faster, stronger, athletes! You can check out the mind blowing gym pics below!

2. They have a KMS and BMS machine force plate to determine peak power output, optimal loading for Olympic Lifting and Power Lifting which can also be used to assess neural fatigue and when to terminate a work set.

KMS BMS Machine

3. The bombers have 2 full size training ovals in the exact dimension of the MCG and Etihad stadium-the 2 grounds they play at the most. It is believed that this enhances specificity in terms of area, positioning and game play simulation.

4. Indoor facilities allow the bombers to accommodate to training demands inspire of challenging weather. We’re talking about a minus 3 degree wind chill factor at Tullamarine during the winter months!! There is something to be said for thermal stress either heat or cold.

5. The bombers have basketball courts and an indoor turfed area from which they can conduct their physical performance testing on. The indoor facility ensures that the testing is standardised and reliable.

Following on from the high number of injuries in 2012, the bombers sought to up their recovery processes. These processes include the following:

6. Recovery reports whereby every player tracks the recovery process and time used. The bombers coaches are aiming for their players to have a 1 to 1 ratio with respect to training and recovery.

Essendon AFL club Individual Athlete Recovery Report

6. Essendon players have access to Normatec Massage Recovery Pants to help reduce muscle tone and enhance blood flow around tired aching muscles.

7. The Bombers have a Vibrational Platform and although the research is unclear-some players feel a benefit by utilising it either pre-training to excite and activate the nervous system or post training to facilitate recovery.

Sam Michael Vibro Machine

8. The bombers have a full size Boxing ring for Off Legs Conditioning and body contact work for players that have indicated above average fatigue or soreness in their lower bodies.

9. The bombers have recovery baths and pools set at various temperatures to accelerate their players recovery from training.

Recovery pools and Baths

10. If you look carefully in the picture above you’ll see a wooden box with a ruler sticking out of it-The bombers coaches use this test known as a toe touch test for hamstring and neural tension. They can see preliminary baseline data and know if a player is on teetering on the edge of a hamstring strain.

You’ll also see a silver adductor squeeze tester in the picture-this device is used to assess adductor strength. These devices are used prior to and potentially after sessions to predict and prevent injuries before they happen.

11. The bombers are also potentially looking to use the Nord Board to assess hamstring strength as a predictor for hamstring injury and as a tool for rehab to ensure hamstring strength is sufficient prior to returning to play.

Nord Board for Predicting Hamstring Injuries

12. The bombers have also introduced altitude chamber rooms to their facilities in a bid to enhance fitness with minimal loading and a was way to enhance or maintain injured athletes fitness.

Altitude Room to enhance fitness with minimal loading

All the best,

Joey Hayes