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Tuesday, January 21 2020 @ 03:33 pm ACDT

TRAINING FOR SIX: Introduction

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We are reproducing Matt Zurbo’s training manual for those that are challenged by small numbers out on the footy track. This series first appeared in The Footy Almanac.

While this can happen anywhere in Australia, it is especially relevant to footy clubs around the world that may be starting up or may have small groups that train together remotely from the rest of the team in a nearby city. Sure everyone can go for a run, or knock off and head to the pub and talk about the training session that might have been. 
 
But Matt will offer action, structure, variety and something for your small training group to achieve. As many clubs around the world are just starting their pre-season we hope this is a useful resource even if it is just for those nights when the numbers are a little low.
 
Training for six: Introduction by Matt Zurbo
 
I’m barely working in the bush, so need the run, but running on its own is just too boring for me. A teammate and I have been having a regular kick. With drills and stuff. Now two or three other local boys have been joining in. It feels good. Like a footy club. Even if we haven’t appointed a coach yet. It’s a brilliant mix of sun, hard work, a casualness of summer and teammates.
 
But, as always, I’m thinking of winter. And of turning negatives into positives.
 
The biggest hate I have in football, a game I love, is not being tested. And that comes down to coaching. It’s easy to crack the whip and strut like a peacock when you have 30-plus blokes at training each week. Big deal. I’m sick of reading coaching manuals that cater to full lists. Of AFL framework directed at strong clubs.
 
Bush footy is struggling. A lot of suburban clubs are struggling. I played for many years for several clubs that would only get 10 or 12 to training on cold, wet, foggy Tuesdays.
 
Us 10 or 12, the coaches would always go easy on. “I don’t want to lose ‘em, too, Old Dog.” I’d be ropable! Where was his spine? We were there, in the cold and rain, despite no success – we were the rusted on! Coaches like that taught kids to not try if others didn’t. To waste entire years if we weren’t winning. To have no pride. To not push yourself no matter what. To not care. To have lack of intensity, a lack of passion. To not test themselves.
 
To. Not. Learn.
 
There are always things to learn. There are always things to teach. There are always ways to train. Even if the message only gets through to one young player, that’s a life you’ve changed.
 
Hard work is addictive. By taking the easy path, the coach was taking away from those 10 or 12 players the chance to feel like footballers. To form the backbone of a strong side one day. Each year we were not successful, the players who did show up learnt only a fraction of what they could have, and, when we got top-up players, were not as good as they should have been.
 
Those ten or twelve, they form dynasties.
 
You may lose one or two, but the rest will be hardened. Will be leaders, if only given the chance.
 
So. Back to the positives. I’m going to do a series, TRAINING FOR SIX. And run through drills for as few as one player, to as many as twelve.
If you are reading this and you are a player, or parent of a player, who has a coach who says, “There are only ………….. (fill in number of players) of us tonight, there’s nothing I can do.” Do not stand for it. Demand more of them. Or give them the flick.
 
A career is such a short thing, yet it can add to a life, give a young player so many life lessons. Each training run is important. Even when you make it fun. There is character at stake.
 
So, over the next however long, I am going to put down my coach’s manual for teams that are NOT a part of the AFL system. Yet that are vital to the AFL. They are it’s grassroots. That are vital to their local communities. They are often its centre, its heartbeat. That are vital to the players and helpers involved.
 
That are a home.
 
You would be amazed at just how many AFL players started in teams like this. I know of two running around now that I played with in teams like this. You’d be amazed at how many more there could, and should be.
 
Tomorrow, we start at the start. Training For One.
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