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Starting with the end in mind

AFL Grand Final week is a good time to reflect on how we plan physical preparation. I was fortunate to be involved in the tied AFL Grand Final and eventual Collingwood FC premiership in 2010. It is unusual after a Grand Final to have the opportunity to take measurements of recovery markers but this unique situation meant that we were able to collect wellness, bloods and other measures to better understand the demands of the game and how we were recovering.

What was immediately clear was that on every measure the drawn Grand Final was the hardest game of the season.

When we start the process of designing a training plan we need to have a clear idea of what are the hardest demands that we are likely to face and make sure we prepare ourselves accordingly.

This means thinking about all of the different types of demands that we might encounter - both physical and mental. There has been some progression in the research recently about Worst Case Scenario which typically involves the measurement of the hardest parts of matches in different football codes using GPS and athletes and coaches can take a lot of confidence knowing they are prepared for whatever might come their way in competition. This has a lot of merit although we need to ensure that we think more holistically about performance. We should reflect on how to simulate all different elements of human performance and also consider the environment - for example weather, pressure and noise.

Whatever our sport and goals - we should make sure that we are preparing for the hardest moments on the biggest stage.

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