Sports Science: Are We Seeing The Big Picture? – By Guest Blogger Darren Burgess

In his very busy schedule, Darren Burgess found some time to join us this week to give an interesting look at a day in the life of a modern day team sports athlete. 

Darren is the High Performance Manager of the Port Adelaide Football Club and is currently transitioning into a similar role with English Premier League powerhouse – Arsenal.

You can follow Darren on Twitter @darrenburgess25

Team Sports Technology in Sports Science

Are We Seeing The Big Picture?

8:30am – woke up, turned off my sleep sensor, apparently I slept 5 hours straight, pretty good after a night game, especially considering the caffeine I took before the game

8:35am – sent my Heart Rate Variability file through via my iPhone, apparently I’m a ‘warning’

9am – just before I left for training my phone started beeping again, forgot to send my sleep scores through, hope I’m not fined for that

9:30am – arrived at training ground. Inputted my info into the wall computer…Weight = 80kg, Muscle Soreness = 7, Energy = 7, Overall Well Being = 7. I think that’s what I normally put after each game. Noticed that someone put 120kg next to Smithy’s weight….pretty funny

9:35am – filled in my pee cup, can’t believe someone has to analyse all of these

10am – after breakfast I had to lay down for 10mins on the Omegawave. Only problem is they won’t let me use my phone and I almost fell asleep. Still, it’s far better than the blood they take tomorrow for my muscle damage

10:20am – just before recovery starts I get the cotton bud in my mouth again. Not sure what’s worse, having to analyse my spit or my pee, turns out it’s the same guy doing it!

10:30am – put on the GPS and HR monitor for recovery. It’s only a light jog for us but the guys who didn’t play are getting hammered! I have a quick look at the fitness iPad and some of the guys have done over 300m of sprinting already!

11am – session finished, give my standard RPE score on the iPad of 4, jumped in the ice bath….love the new TV in there!

11:30am – check in with the physio, my knee is still a bit sore. He wants me to do a little jog on the curve shaped treadmill. Its only 5 mins and after he tells me that my scores are pretty good so I guess that’s ok.

12pm – quick upper body gym session, my speed on the bench press is still in the top 5 according to the screen above it, but my box jump score was down on the team average.

12:45pm – grab some lunch then about to head home when the fitness coach shows me my sprints were down a bit on last night’s game. Asks me if I felt ok and I said ‘fine, we won didn’t we??’

1:30pm – Grab the Ice machine from the physio and head home, can’t wait for the afternoon, spending it on the Xbox!


This is not an unusual day in the life of a modern day team sports athlete. In many sports, such as Rugby Union and Australian Rules Football (AF) in particular, the use of technology in player monitoring has reached substantial proportions. The challenge for those working in Sports Science and Sports Medicine is to determine which technology is going to produce information that actually affects performance.

In the above example the recovery from a match was determined by Estimated Sleep, Heart Rate Variability, Omega Wave, Salivary Analyses, Subjective Ratings, Hydration Status, Creatine Kinase and Neuromuscular Fatigue. Each assessment used some fantastic technology and made it as easy as possible on the player however even in the most scientific, disciplined environment this is surely overkill.

Undoubtedly some of the technology is accepted and even enjoyed by the players. The immediate feedback and competitive element of the bench press scores and on-field iPad, the TV in the ice bath that can double as a message board, and the interactive elements of various iPad/iPhone apps can provide Sports Scientists with ideal platforms to assesses and monitor players. However the indirect aspect of technology must not be abused by players. Remote subjective ratings, for example, while convenient, also offer players an easy path to unrepresentative scores. Additionally, RPE scores are prevalent in the literature but are only reliable in an educated, motivated group of players.

Prudent use of technology may reveal outliers previously undetectable. This is absolutely crucial and perhaps the major benefit of assessment and monitoring within a football or team sports environment. Of interest then is which technology reveals injury or performance-related outliers most effectively. This question can only be answered through extensive, appropriate evaluation.

‘Readiness to Play/Train’ is becoming a buzz term within the industry and is generally used to describe the set of factors/tests/questionnaires leading to the determination of a players’ ability to train or play. 15 years ago it was simply assumed after a game that a player might need some light training for 1-2 days before he/she was able to train or play. It may well be that obtaining this new level of information on players post game invariably leads to the same conclusion.

Not all monitoring tools transfer effectively to a team sports environment. There is much research on the use of tools/values such as CK, Saliva Analysis, HRV and Omegawave however information on their use in a professional football environment is limited at best. In-house use of these and other tools may reveal appropriate practice however much of this research is either not in a sufficiently ‘controlled’ environment for publication or kept within the confines of competition-wary clubs.

One monitoring tool that is prevalent within the literature is HRV. This can be conveniently estimated remotely using an iPhone app. However applying this research (mainly conducted on cycling, rowing and running) directly to a team sports environment presents numerous challenges. HRV is influenced by diurnal variation, food and fluid consumption, caffeine consumption, body orientation at measurement and previous activity, amongst other factors. Collecting HRV is best achieved immediately upon waking, in a standing position and prior to any activity or food consumption. However, if HRV is collected when the players arrive at the training ground factors such as traffic, caffeine, body orientation and previous activity will almost certainly affect results. In the latter environment, monitoring HRV becomes unreliable and largely ineffective. Applying these strict controls to a squad assessing themselves in their home environment is therefore very difficult.

Lack of published research should never deter clubs from using technology to monitor players and performance. Clubs should however, ensure the data they collect is both reliable and valid, at least for their playing group. This can be difficult in such an applied environment but it’s essential that these tools are used in a robust environment in order to assess their true effectiveness.

One example where research is lacking but sound application of technology in a team sports environment can be possible is use of the Woodway Curve 3 Treadmill. With 2 familiarisation sessions players can reproduce reliable stride length, stride frequency, horizontal and vertical force scores across a range of non-motorised running speeds. Once this reliability is established, the use of this technology for injury detection, specific conditioning and gait analysis becomes very exciting.

Professional football clubs, and team sport environments in general, have embraced the use of technology with the view that player monitoring and injury prevention can be enhanced as a result. While this may be so in some cases, extensive evaluation must be employed in order to ensure these tools are valid, reliable and appropriate for use in these settings.

Massage Benefits: The List Goes On – By Guest Blogger Matt Norris

Matt Norris joins us this week to tell you why massage is the ‘thing’ you’re looking for!

Matt is the Principal Massage Therapist of Matt Norris Massage Therapy at Goodlife Health Clubs Mitcham. Matt has vast experience at the elite level of sport mainly with the Adelaide Football Club (23 years and also inducted as a life member). He has also worked with Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 (Aus Open, Wimbledon and US Open Campaigns) and many other sports people in Golf, BMX and V8 Drivers. 

You can contact Matt through his website: or check out his Facebook page or instagram @mattnorrismassage

Massage Benefits: The List Goes On – By Guest Blogger Matt Norris

I’m sure you would agree that Health and Wellness is your most important asset and if you’re reading this then you’re probably looking at taking it to the next level.

I’m very passionate about Sports and Remedial Massage and take the validity and the value of massage pretty seriously too. So I will outline from my 25 years of experience (without being too biased or subjective of course) – why it will be a must for you in your life.

The benefits from massage vary from person to person. Each person will feel and report different outcomes but the bottom line is that massage is healthy for you.

It all starts with a good therapist carefully analysing your situation and tailoring a massage to suit your exact needs. Hands on treatment is often the missing link and I have lost count on the amount of times I have heard clients say they have been needing that or ”that is good pain”.

Here are some of the benefits and what my clients have said …

POSTURE and BALANCE – “I felt more balanced and upright”

Correcting and balancing your Spine and Pelvis will improve your posture and allow you to move more freely and without pain. Many people have a leg length difference due to a rotated hip or tightness through areas like their quads and ITBs.

STRESS RELIEF – “What a great sleep I had last night” or “I needed that!”

Providing Stress relief (and just by relaxing for an hour while receiving the best massage ever) provides Headache and stress relief from Life’s daily ups and downs and also helps you sleep better by improving the production of Serotonin which is essential in the production of Melatonin in your body.

ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE – “That feels so much looser, freer, stronger or better than ever”

Pre and Post Event preparation massage improves your recovery time from injury and training and by increasing the flexibility and blood flow to muscles.

It will also aid the body to heal aches, pains and referred pain and as sport and intense activity can bring on many injuries it will help to prevent painful conditions such as back and neck pain, sciatic pain, tennis elbow, shin splints and muscle Tears.

PREVENTION and ASSET MANAGEMENT – “Yes I know I need to do it!”

Your health is an evolution not a revolution so the key is an integration and balance of the following prevention activity and practices;

– Stretching (incorporating foam rolling and releasing) – it is really important to add that if you stretch too much and don’t have any movement in your muscles then all you are doing are stretching and weakening tendons and joints.Yoga, Pilates and Meditation.

– Salt and Hot / Cold Baths (particularly to ease pain from treatments)

– Weight training and rehab on areas such core stability and weak hamstrings and glutes.

– A Well Balanced Food Plan.


Remedial Massage can provide quick results but often we are erasing many years of tightness and imbalance so it is inevitable that your massage will really hurt.

You must be comfortable with the therapist and trust that their skills, experience and intuition will provide a good balance of finesse and force.

I’m sure you are completely convinced now – so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself or the team at The Edge Total Body Conditioning.

Discover your potential – interview with guest blogger Matthew Bode

This week we have a chat with Matthew Bode – Physical Performance Coordinator of the Adelaide Crows. He talks us through getting the most out of your body whether you are an elite athlete or someone just starting out. 


Firstly a bit about yourself, how have you found transitioning from a former player into a strength and conditioning coach? What do you feel makes a good coach?

The transition has been a great learning experience. I have an appreciation now for the time it takes a coach to prepare and review football, strength and conditioning sessions. One of the greatest things a coach can give an athlete is time. The ability to build relationships through conversing with players is very important. If a player can see he has coaches who genuinely care it is much easier to get ‘buy in’ when discussing components of a strength and conditioning program.


What parts of your elite level program would you give the general public or the every day gym goer to succeed in improving overall fitness and reaching their potential?

Many of the components in our physical performance program are relatable to the general public. Nowadays people have a lot of resources for Strength and Conditioning training techniques through online or magazines articles. Many people however seem to ignore the importance of recovery between sessions to allow themselves to get adaptation from their training. These recovery techniques don’t need to be expensive in fact the two most important are nutrition and sleep. Many people forgo these simple techniques and focus on gimmicks which can be expensive and much less effective. If people do have a focus on improving their strength and conditioning they need to look at their training with a holistic mindset and the time between sessions as time to adapt.


Speaking of recovery, how important is regular massage? And how often would players receive massage?

Massage is a key element in our recovery program. Players receive 2-3 sessions both in-season and pre-season. Massage helps with increased blood flow to muscles which then helps repair the muscle, and in turn aids performance. Massage also assists with keeping tissue supple to maintain flexibility. Many players also find massage assist with pain relief. The other component massage has much benefit is the psychological aspect. Players do like find this type of recovery relaxing and allows them to de-stress.



How important is resistance training in preventing/ overcoming injuries?

Strength training is a critical part of an athlete development program. Strength training improves all round strength, including muscle, bone, ligament and tendon. This also improves speed of movement, change of direction and balance. Strength training helps keep the body in correct alignment and protect against contact and impact.



What is a single bit of advice you would give to someone who wants to improve his or her fitness but doesn’t know where to start?

If it is a person who is coming from a low base my advice would be to get into a realistic routine. At least 30 mins (ideally in the morning) should be ‘do-able’ for most people. The more people can surround themselves with others who make them accountable the better, hence social sport, joining a running club or fitness club with a friend are all good options to improve healthy habits.


ACL Injury: Prevention Is Better Than Cure – By Guest Blogger Mick Hughes

We were lucky enough to have Mick Hughes on board this week to kick off the first of our guest blogs.

Mick is the Head Physiotherapist of the Collingwood Magpies Netball team and shares his time between Collingwood and The Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre.

He is a keen blogger and posts regularly on sports physio and strength and conditioning topics. He has a website, which you can find some of his previous blogs:

And he is very active on social media and can be found at Facebook (@mickhughesphysio), twitter (@mickwhughes) and Instagram (@mickhughesphysio).

Anyhow lets get right into it…

ACL Injury: Prevention Is Better Than Cure – By Guest Blogger Mick Hughes

I have covered ACL injuries quite a bit in my previous blogs, and the reason for this is fairly straight forward:

They are one of the most devastating injuries to sustain in sport.

They can stop a blossoming sporting career dead in its tracks, or stop a player from reaching their full potential. Sometimes they can be the end of a player’s career. Furthermore, ACL injury comes at high physical, emotional and financial cost to the athlete, and the very sad thing is, a high percentage of ACL injuries can be prevented. Research tells us that between 50-70% of ACL injuries can be prevented with ACL prevention programs, or neuromuscular training programs (1,2,3).

What are neuromuscular training programs, I hear you ask?

There are many definitions of what neuromuscular training programs are, but in a nutshell, they are programs designed to improve the strength, flexibility, control, balance and co-ordination of patients/athletes. A program typically consists of a series of exercises that addresses each of the aforementioned components. Importantly, the exercises are such that are specific to the sport being played. The programs are generally used as a “warm-up” activity and last between 15-30mins, and are usually implemented 2x per week and prior to games.

The FIFA 11, PEP and Sportsmetrics programs are the most widely researched neuromuscular programs. The beauty of these 2 programs are that not only do they reduce ACL injury risk, they improve performance tests such as speed, agility, vertical jump, abdominal strength tests and estimated maximal aerobic capacity (4). I know I bang on about this a fair bit, but this reinforces that we need to be promoting these prevention programs to coaches, parents and players as “performance enhancing” programs, and not just boring injury prevention exercises.

Historically the programs were devised and implemented to reduce the risk of ACL injury, but what is starting to show in research is that all types of knee injuries (50%) and lower limb injuries (22%) can be reduced with the implementation of this programs (5). Despite this evidence injuries are unfortunately still occurring at an alarming rate. As mentioned in a previous blog, between 2004-10 in Victoria alone, the financial cost of lower limb sporting injuries (including ACL injuries) to the public health sector increased by 26% during this period (6).

The reason for this spike in injury rate is no doubt multi-factorial, but I often hear from coaches, players, parents alike that there is not enough time in the week or the training schedule to do the program. And I get that, but here are two things to ponder:

  • Firstly lets weigh up the cost: benefit ratio. The cost of an ACL reconstruction can start at least $5000 (and that doesn’t include pre-op physio, post-op physio and gym membership/programs), and the cost of implementing these programs range between $1.25 – $25 per player, per session (7).
  • Secondly, re-read what I wrote earlier:

Neuromuscular training programs. Enhance. Player. Performance.

So we need to stop making the excuse that we don’t have time. We need to make time. We need everyone (player, coach, parents) to buy in to the “performance enhancement” effects of these programs. If time is in an issue for the coach, get the players to do it independently before training commences, or simply adjust your training sessions to add these programs in to your planned sessions. All it takes is an extra 15-30mins per session, but the players, coach and the entire team will reap the rewards with lower injury rates, improved player performance, increased team continuity and increased team success.

In the event that all this useful information falls on deaf ears, there are certainly “high-risk” athletes that should be identified at pre-season screening who should be advised that conducting weekly neuromuscular training programs throughout the season is a non-negotiable. These players are:

  • 14-18 year olds and males 19-25 year olds. These age groups have the highest incidence of ACL injury than any other age group (8).
  • Those with a past history of ACL injury: It is widely publicised in the literature that past history is a contributing factor to future injury. Also, a 12% ACLR failure rate at 5 year follow-up and 10% ACL injury to opposite side within 5 years was found in subjects aged under 18 years of age at the time of primary injury (9).
  • Those athletes with current or past history of PFJ pain: PFJ is thought to be a precursor to ACL injury (10).
  • Those with a family history of ACL injury (mother or father) (11).
    Additionally, hormonal factors (higher risk in the pre-ovulatory phase) and players going through a growth spurt (biomechanical landing changes seen during growth spurts) need to be regularly monitored and training/playing adjusted accordingly throughout the pre-season and competitive season to minimise the risk of ACL injury (12,13,14).

In closing up this blog, I firmly believe we can all be doing a better job with our athletes at the high-school level and community level of all sports, and implementing these injury prevention programs or “performance enhancement” programs are a very simple and cost-effective way to do so. From the literature, young females are consistently identified as a high-risk group, and with the huge success of the female Socceroos and the rise and rise of the ANZ netball championship and the women’s Big Bash Cricket League, it is critical that we allow the current crop of young female athletes to strive for great heights and not be brought down by serious injuries, such as ACL injury.

As always please feel free to share this post far and wide. Injury prevention is a huge passion of mine, particularly in the adolescent athlete, and the more doctors, surgeons, physios, exercise physiologists, S&C coaches, personal trainers, players, parents, coaches and teachers that get on board with this information, it is my firm belief that we will start seeing lower injury rates across the nation, and better performances on the field.


1. Donnell-Fink LA, Klara K, Collins JE, Yang HY, Goczalk MG, Katz JN, et al. Effectiveness of Knee Injury and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear Prevention Programs: A Meta-Analysis. PloS one. 2015;10(12):e0144063. PubMed PMID: 26637173. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC4670212. Epub 2015/12/05. eng.

2. Gagnier JJ, Morgenstern H, Chess L. Interventions designed to prevent anterior cruciate ligament injuries in adolescents and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of sports medicine. 2013 Aug;41(8):1952-62. PubMed PMID: 22972854. Epub 2012/09/14. eng.

3. Taylor JB, Waxman JP, Richter SJ, Shultz SJ. Evaluation of the effectiveness of anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention programme training components: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British journal of sports medicine. 2015 Jan;49(2):79-87. PubMed PMID: 23922282. Epub 2013/08/08. eng.

4. Noyes FR, Barber Westin SD. Anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention training in female athletes: a systematic review of injury reduction and results of athletic performance tests. Sports health. 2012 Jan;4(1):36-46. PubMed PMID: 23016067. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC3435901. Epub 2012/09/28. eng.

5. Finch CF, Twomey DM, Fortington LV, Doyle TL, Elliott BC, Akram M, et al. Preventing Australian football injuries with a targeted neuromuscular control exercise programme: comparative injury rates from a training intervention delivered in a clustered randomised controlled trial. Injury prevention : journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention. 2016 Apr;22(2):123-8. PubMed PMID: 26399611. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC4819647. Epub 2015/09/25. eng.

6. Finch CF, Kemp JL, Clapperton AJ. The incidence and burden of hospital-treated sports-related injury in people aged 15+ years in Victoria, Australia, 2004-2010: a future epidemic of osteoarthritis? Osteoarthritis and cartilage / OARS, Osteoarthritis Research Society. 2015 Jul;23(7):1138-43. PubMed PMID: 25749009. Epub 2015/03/10. eng.

7. Swart E, Redler L, Fabricant PD, Mandelbaum BR, Ahmad CS, Wang YC. Prevention and screening programs for anterior cruciate ligament injuries in young athletes: a cost-effectiveness analysis. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2014 May 07;96(9):705-11. PubMed PMID: 24806006. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC4001460. Epub 2014/05/09. eng.

8. Sanders TL, Maradit Kremers H, Bryan AJ, Larson DR, Dahm DL, Levy BA, et al. Incidence of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears and Reconstruction: A 21-Year Population-Based Study. The American journal of sports medicine. 2016 Jun;44(6):1502-7. PubMed PMID: 26920430. Epub 2016/02/28. eng.

9. Morgan MD, Salmon LJ, Waller A, Roe JP, Pinczewski LA. Fifteen-Year Survival of Endoscopic Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction in Patients Aged 18 Years and Younger. The American journal of sports medicine. 2016 Feb;44(2):384-92. PubMed PMID: 26759030. Epub 2016/01/14. eng.

10. Myer GD, Ford KR, Di Stasi SL, Foss KD, Micheli LJ, Hewett TE. High knee abduction moments are common risk factors for patellofemoral pain (PFP) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in girls: is PFP itself a predictor for subsequent ACL injury? British journal of sports medicine. 2015 Jan;49(2):118-22. PubMed PMID: 24687011. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC4182160. Epub 2014/04/02. eng.

11. Smith HC, Vacek P, Johnson RJ, Slauterbeck JR, Hashemi J, Shultz S, et al. Risk factors for anterior cruciate ligament injury: a review of the literature-part 2: hormonal, genetic, cognitive function, previous injury, and extrinsic risk factors. Sports health. 2012 Mar;4(2):155-61. PubMed PMID: 23016083. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC3435909. Epub 2012/09/28. eng.

12. Wild CY, Steele JR, Munro BJ. Why do girls sustain more anterior cruciate ligament injuries than boys?: a review of the changes in estrogen and musculoskeletal structure and function during puberty. Sports medicine (Auckland, NZ). 2012 Sep 01;42(9):733-49. PubMed PMID: 22784194. Epub 2012/07/13. eng.

13. Hewett TE, Zazulak BT, Myer GD. Effects of the menstrual cycle on anterior cruciate ligament injury risk: a systematic review. The American journal of sports medicine. 2007 Apr;35(4):659-68. PubMed PMID: 17293469. Epub 2007/02/13. eng.

14. Wild CY, Munro BJ, Steele JR. How Young Girls Change Their Landing Technique Throughout the Adolescent Growth Spurt. The American journal of sports medicine. 2016 May;44(5):1116-23. PubMed PMID: 26912286. Epub 2016/02/26. eng.

Welcome to The Edge TBC


Based in the Western Suburbs of Adelaide, our team brings experience from the AFL, SANFL and A-League with backgrounds from studies in Exercise Sports Science, Physiotherapy, Massage, Personal Training and Pilates.

Our motivation is to provide clients of all fitness backgrounds with a unique, convenient and personalized Total Body Conditioning service to help them achieve their goals and feel good about it along the way.

The creation of the Total Body Conditioning service was our ‘light-bulb’ moment – which lead to the advancement of THE EDGE. We all have different skill sets and thought why can’t we deliver all these skill sets to people in a fun and unique way in the convenience of one session at one location?

Then to decide on our target audience.


Anyone who wants to improve.

If you want to improve, we will do everything possible we can in our broad skill sets to kick down those road-blocks in your way.

For the unlucky ones of you that haven’t experienced it for yourselves yet, our premier Total Body Conditioning session sees clients train in pairs and receive 20 minutes of Personal Training, a choice of 20 minutes Pilates or Boxing, and wind down with a 20 minute Massage.

We currently also offer individual and group Personal Training and individual massage services and in the near future will be releasing a (very) unique group boxing class – watch this space.



Our blog will provide our loyal readers with information to give them THE EDGE in their health and fitness lives. Every couple of weeks we will have a chat with a ‘guest blogger’ – leading health and fitness professionals and athletes throughout South Australia.

Watch this space to see who our first guest blogger will be, and keep up to date on all the happenings at The Edge by following us on social media.


Giving you the edge,

The Edge Total Body Conditioning