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During the first two years of my exercise science degree I was unsure of the direction I wanted to take. During third year whilst studying exercise programming I developed an interest in strength and conditioning and began to read extensively and explore training techniques I was learning about by experimenting during my own training. I applied for the Victorian Institute of Sport physical preparation trainee program and my journey to Essendon had begun.
At the VIS I witnessed elite athletes preparing for Olympic success as well as passionate and highly skilled strength and conditioning coaches. The time I spent on the gym floor and at the various external training facilities, exposed me to many different sporting cultures and various coaching techniques and styles. This experience was invaluable in developing my passion for athlete preparation as well as laying a foundation to become a good coach.
When my year as a trainee was finished I was lucky enough to be offered a casual position that developed into a full time role in which I was responsible for all aspects of the physical preparation for Men’s Soccer, Men’s Hockey and Women’s Gymnastics. During my time at the VIS I enjoyed some amazing experiences with these three sports learning the intricacies of sports that I had not been exposed to before. Some highlights for me were travelling with the Soccer squad to France for an international junior tournament where we played against national teams from around the world. On the same trip I was also able to spend time within the sport science departments at Everton and Manchester United Football Clubs learning from some of the leaders in world sport. I even got to watch a match at Old Trafford. Working with the Women’s Gymnastics team was also a highlight as I worked with some of the hardest working athletes and coaches I have come across.
In November last year I left the VIS for a position as Assistant Physical Preparation Coach at Essendon FC. There I work in a demanding day to day environment with high expectations of performance on everyone involved in the program. At Essendon my professional development has taken another step as I am involved in a highly detailed and integrated performance program. I am involved in strength and conditioning, rehabilitation as well as athlete fatigue and performance monitoring. It is also exciting to watch the hard work put in during training result in performance on a big stage such as a full MCG. In addition to my full-time role with Essendon I am also studying Honours involving a study of fatigue in AFL.
My advice to students that are interested in a career in strength and conditioning would be to find ways to gain practical experience and keep up to date with the latest research. Get as much practical coaching experience as you can with different sports and athletes. It is also important to have empathy for the athletes that you work with so train like you are an elite athlete. If you are willing to read widely, gain extensive coaching experience and can easily develop rapport with people then you could be on your way to a fulfilling and exciting career in elite sport.