The girls of Billingham Synthonia Ladies enjoyed a great zoom call with Sam and Lucy (coach & athlete) with the focus on strength & conditioning. Sam has coached various athletes who have competed internationally for GB, Germany & Spain. He has also worked with netballers, rugby players and footballers. Lucy is an athlete who has competed for Gateshead Harriers & Athletics Club, Northumbria University and internationally for England and also GB. Competing in the Pentathlon Lucy has been selected for GB Senior International combined events.
Fun facts: In 2011 Lucy was ranked No 1 in the Under 15 Pole Vaults (i) and in 2017 she was ranked No 2 U23 Heptathlon.
During the zoom call the following things were discussed:
- Training Volume
- Individual Progression
- Weights / Bodyweight
- Importance of Good Technique
- Marginal Gains
- Strengths & Weaknesses
- Challenges around Training & Study/Work
- Lifestyle Management
Before discussing strength & conditioning it is important to understand the great relationship there was between athlete and coach. This probably explains why they have lasted as long as 10 years together. Sam seemed to know what got the best out of Lucy and she acknowledged how well they had worked together. However, they did allude to the odd argument from time to time, which seemed to benefit them both in the long run.
SAM: I couldn’t understand how she would forget important gear for a training session or competition.
LUCY: Over the years I have become more organised so I am fully focused on my session or competition.
How Sam developed strength & conditioning programmes depended on the needs of individual athletes and what was best for their progression. There was a lot of consideration for what would get the best results over a longer period of time for each athlete. This included consideration to training volume and progression for individuals.
The session flowed nicely with Sam & Lucy exchanging thoughts on what they had found useful when working together on strength & conditioning. Lucy commented on the importance of the following when fitting in specific S&C work:
Lucy believed it was important that she completed her education in the same manner she competed as an elite athlete. It meant she had some balance in her approach to training & studying. Lucy talked about times she didn’t want to train or feel like training but worked with her desire to be successful as an elite athlete. Finally, she explained how getting her nutrition organised and right was a big help in preparing for and recovering from sessions.
Sam talked about the importance of marginal gains, athletes progressing without injury, being consistent over long periods of time and working out what works for them. It is easy to fall into the trap in team sports by giving everyone the same S&C but that can cause burnout, it can cause injury and most of all place a huge amount of stress on a player / athlete.
Both Sam & Lucy commented on the basics of sleep, water & nutrition and how Lucy found the quality of training more beneficial than the quantity of training. Specifically talking about having to train without weights:
LUCY: If I got the technique wrong when lifting weights, Sam would take the weights off, I would feel embarrassed, so I made sure I got the technique right next time.
Sam talked about how the athlete was responsible for their training. They had to be motivated to complete it.
There was a good discussion about improving weaknesses, which makes sense if you compete in different disciplines. There is nowhere to hide. Could footballers benefit from getting a good balance between working on strengths & weaknesses?
Sam talked about the excellent timing for the girls of Synners. He explained that they were in the middle of the ‘window of opportunity’ to develop a strong technique relating to S&C. This is great news for the players that decide to step up their S&C. He also stressed the important of comparing yourself to others, who might be further on their journey. Don’t push, don’t over stretch, be consistent.
When asked about what advice they would give to the young football players they suggested the following:
- Explore the benefits of S&C
- Aim to improve on technique before increasing weights
- Keep it fun
- Enjoy the journey
- Keep the goal in mind
- Use S&C as an outlet when things are not going well on the football pitch
To conclude Lucy talked about the importance of being organised, being strict in eating good nutritious foods and organising yourself to get shopping in on time. She also mentioned the importance of choosing friends carefully, those who will support your goals, those who won’t pressure you to lose focus. Being aware of goals outside of your chosen sport, allocating time to study, plan a career was also something Lucy felt was important.
Both Lucy and Sam mentioned that some athletes (players) need an active social life and that in moderation drinking can be of benefit. However, this came with a note of caution about making sacrifices if you want to reach your potential in sport.
The plan is to get Sam & Lucy down for a training session with the girls where they will benefit further from working with an International coach and athlete. I feel they both offer more than just technical knowledge and typify what an elite mindset is all about.
On behalf of everyone at Billingham Synthonia Ladies I would like to thank Sam & Lucy. The girls are looking forward to a training session soon.