Frans Bosch’s upcoming book Anatomy of Agility: Movement Analysis in Sport is the most comprehensive text I have seen on human movement and the underlying biological systems that regulate it. It expands on Bosch’s previous book Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach and goes into a huge amount of detail to explain how complex dynamical systems theory applies to the regulation of change of direction in field sports. Below I hope to explain the key takeaways in the book, where I struggled, and how it will impact my own approach as a strength and conditioning coach.
About Nick Lumley
Nick Lumley is the head strength and conditioning coach for Edinburgh Rugby.
Athletes all over the world are feeling the effects of COVID-19 with compromised training and competition schedules. We are no different at Edinburgh Rugby, we are currently unaware when the league season will resume, if it will resume, and what kind of preparation we will have. It’s the same story for athletes all over the world: our job is to be ready whenever it kicks off.
As a young coach, one thing I didn’t realize was how variable speed requirements are between different sports. We might think of speed as a single quality trained in a single way, but the reality is that speed manifests itself differently in each sport and therefore needs to be trained differently. As I have gained experience in different sports, my thought process has slowly evolved.
Anyone reading HMMR media this month will be well informed on the work of Frans Bosch. Bosch is perhaps the world’s leading proponent of constraints-led learning and applying complex systems theory in the realm of athletic development, as he detailed in his book. As a strength and conditioning coach from a more classic strength training background, I have always found his work interesting and have enjoyed reading his ideas and listening to him talk. But before I jump on the bandwagon, I still see the need to take a critical look at a few some of the concepts, and, more importantly, how I see them being implemented in training.
Working in Olympic sports you are afforded an almost unlimited amount of time to work with your athletes in small groups allowing the delivery of all sorts of bespoke programs. In rugby, with 45-50 players and I have a staff of three coaches plus three student interns, individualization becomes a bit more difficult.
Most strength and conditioning courses cover basic training principles, and testing is a recurring theme. Our job is to ensure transfer; that is to train athletes in a way that they get better at their sport. As a coach it is important to hold yourself accountable to an objective outcome, and data can help assess the effect of an intervention. Whilst coaches shouldn’t act on data alone, it allows them to make well-informed decisions.
The word recovery gets used a lot in sport with a variety of meanings in my experience. A common misconception I come across is the assumption that one size fits all in the world of recovery. There are various aspects of post-exercise recovery and it is completely individual to the situation and the athlete. In my opinion recovery should be viewed as a tool to manipulate in order to optimize performance. Below I want to explai na little about what recovery is how I categorize and use recovery methods, and some non-negotiables when it comes to recovery.
When you watch rugby sevens it’s not going to surprise people to hear it’s the most physically demanding sport I have ever witnessed. Just look at a standard tournament: 6 14-minute matches over two days in hot conditions. Look at each match: players average 1.5 kilometers of ground covered at 115 meters/minute, along with many collisions and contacts thrown in. In each match players reach high acceleration speeds of over 8 meters/second several times. In simple terms, it’s a stressful sport with up to 14 minutes of maximal effort 6 times over two days. Most people who know the sport are familiar with this, however one hidden stressor added on top of all of this is the extreme travel involved with the Sevens World Series.
I’ve been coaching professionally for nine years and, like any young coach, I started out by reading anything and everything I could get my hands on, attending conferences and talking with other coaches. Scientists and coaches usually present research and theory behind training methodologies, combine them with practical experience and present positive results to support their work. Many of the basic principles of training I first learned about back then I still use today and have never let me down.