If you ask a player from the Sydney FC Sky Blues what the secret to their success this season is, they might tell you it’s the players’ determination to be the very best. If you ask the team’s doctor, he’ll likely credit GPS tracking devices used in the athletes’ training.
Dr. Craig Duncan collects information during each training session thanks to the devices worn by players which transmit data back to his laptop, allowing him to make adjustments to each individual’s training program for the day. If there is one player who appears to be overworked, he can see this and end their training for the day. If there is a player not working as hard as they should the problem is highlighted, allowing the coaches to push that player a bit harder.
The doctor appreciates that everyone on the coaching staff is supportive of this program. “The coaching staff all understands the importance of what I’m trying to do and we all work together. I’m lucky to be at a club where everyone, from the head coach to the physio, is pulling in the same direction and accept this is the best way to go. We’re able to tailor sessions according to predetermined modeling and, so far, it’s going really well.”
And it isn’t just the team iteslf that sees the importance of what Dr. Duncan is doing. He was recently the main speaker at a medical forum in London where the world’s top sports teams happened to be gathered, and has also received lucrative offers from other AFL clubs.
Dr. Duncan stresses the importance of medical staff being part of a successful training program, rather than the traditional “strength and conditioning” coaches most teams rely on. “I’m not interested in making us the fittest team in the A-League. I’m looking at creating a team which measures itself, fitness-wise, on an international scale.” It was Duncan himself who felt Sydney needed to step up their game in the area of fitness in the first place, a result of player performance reviews and discussions with coaches.
After 11 games, it is evident his program is paying off. Three out of the 11 games saw Sydney coming from behind to claim victory, unlike the last two seasons where they could only boast of one comeback. Not even a week ago, they were down 1-0 until they came out of nowhere to take over and win the match, blindsiding their tired opponents.
And what do the players think of all this? One of the Sky Blues, Nicky Carle, says, “The set up Sydney has at the moment – in terms of science, medicine, rehab, and coaches working together – is second to none.”
Photo Courtesy of TheBuffaFamily through Flickr Creative Commons