If you want pressure to perform, try working in professional soccer in England. To make matters more complicated, try working with young players and balancing the need for short-term results and setting up long-term potential. That is the challenge Des Ryan confronts every day as Head of Sports Medicine & Athletic Development at the Arsenal Academy. On this episode of the GAINcast he explains the Arsenal approach to athletic development and high performance.
Notes and Quotes
Des Ryan has been working as the Head of Sports Medicine & Athletic Development for nearly five years and before that came from a background in rugby. In addition to explaining Arsenal’s approach to athletic development, he also discusses the academy structure, how they seek to build team culture, and managing a high performance team.
Background and about the Arsenal Academy
- 0:45 – Sports science conference highlights.
- 10:00 – Ryan’s background and influences.
- 15:15 – EPPP and changes that have occurred in English football culture.
- 19:30 – Not a full-time program. We want kids having normal experiences.
Long-term athlete development
- 21:30 – What are Arsenal scouts looking for?
- 25:00 – What does an Arsenal player look like?
- 29:30 – Long-term athlete development at Arsenal.
- 34:15 – The decline of physical literacy. “We all know about the decline in physical literacy, but we need to do something about it. “
- 37:00 – Addressing over-specialization in an early specialization sport.
Managing a performance team
- 38:45 – Managing a performance team and the Arsenal philosophy. “We decide on our physical development framework and every quarter we add to it as a group. ” “We want to get the player to the next level as quickly and efficiently as possible through four points: functional competance, movement skills, integrated conditioning, and periodization. “
- 44:30 – “Be a generalist first, then a specialist. If you don’t start out as a generalist, it will be a long journey. “
- 46:15 – Advice for young coaches entering the field.
- 50:30 – Work-life balance: “Work-life balance may not be possible, but we should aim for it. “
- 55:30 – What changes are coming to coaching: “The next wave of research in sport will be in the art of coaching. “
To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
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- For more about Ryan’s background, check out his full biography on the Arsenal webpage.
- We discussed the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), which you can learn about more here.
- For more on some of the topics discussed, listen to GAINcast 36 on physical literacy, GAINcast 63 on supporting champions, GAINcast 69 on long-term development, and GAINcast 80 on managing a performance team.