Today I am able to highlight some key practices in regards to sports training from Aurélien Broussal Derval who was responsible for preparing Team GB Judo Players for the 2012 Olympics. Aurélien Q&A has agreed to answer 10 questions to help our readers fully understand sports training!
Q1) Can you tell the readers a little more about what you do?
Sure. I am a bit busy right now. I have been, after the successful Olympics in London on many other teams’ radar, and moved up to new projects after GB Judo. I am currently working for two teams at the same time: French Olympic Weightlifting, and Russian Judo. The way these people are training allows me to pop in and out programs easily. Plus they are developing systems, where I coach just as much as I teach and coordinate. This is a fantastic experience, very different from what I use to do in England, where I was 24/24 committed to players and program, coaching myself all the time. Of course I had Jean-Paul Bell (VI’s and Colin Oates coach) helping me out, but in France I have 3 coaches next to me, and in Russia 21 (!), coaching the way I do. Again, much more teaching, sharing, planing, and management than I used to.
Q2) A lot of young people in colleges studying sports make the mistake of creating a training plan for a bodybuilder rather than a sports performer, what are the key differences?
I would go much further than this. I have been working in France (obviously), Spain, Great-Britain, Russia, and spent some time in Brazil. I now have a very clear view of who does what in the world of S&C. French are very influenced by athletics, Brazilian by gymnastics (they don’t do much weights), and Brits (as Americans) Power lifting. In all this countries, Body-building came along on top of these cultures. I think we need to remember what we do, what we are trying to achieve. We are not here to follow a concept, or demonstrate the superiority of the system on another. We are not here to apply the principles of another sport to ours. We are here to produce performance.
This means to me extracting the best of every tool we’ve got, specifically to the sport. In France I try to push people to do more cleans and snatches to improve their programs. I try to make them run less, strengthen more (no joke). But in GB, I was doing exactly the same : NCSA or UKSCA made all the coaches Weight lifters. They might say they make it sport specific, but they don’t. Most of the time the weight sessions are very close to what we do with the lifters, very far from what we should do with a Judo player. Body-building is even a worth approach, killing functional and useful muscle development for a non-efficient massive muscle mass.
Please understand me well : I am not saying here Body-building isn’t good, this is a way to improve body-weight or strength endurance. I am not saying lifts are not performant : they are powerful way to build functional strength and explosively. I am not saying cardio training and athletics should be removed from S&C, otherwise how would you go on with power all 5 minutes long in a Judo contest.
I consider the truth, if there is one, somewhere at the connexion of all this. What makes our job so great is that there is not only one way, not a ultimate tool, but an infinite variety of combinations.
Q3) Can you give an example of a strength training routine for judo?
Again, we need to look at it form the right point of view. Try to think Judo, Judo is a 5 minutes contest, very lactic, high power endurance dimension of performance. But more importantly, it is a very (much more than observers think), a technical sport where timing is crucial. First you need to impose your grip, then you create movement to misbalance your opponent in order to get an opportunity to attack. Once you have this you need to generate enough power to throw him.
Developing the strength of a judo player needs to take all this on board: you build strength for technique, not the other way around. You must develop maximums of course, but knowing in the end this is all about power endurance. It is compulsory to dissociate contents at one point (otherwise you never get to deep and stable improvements), but you have to mix them sometimes if you want to transfer it somehow. Last but crucial point is the energetic demand: it’s not only about strength and power Judo players needs to be strong, technical, with 13mmol of lactates in blood, increasing.
A typical mid prep session could be this :
After a proper warm-up, including cardio training, judo specific and core activation.
Neural strength and power development :
Cleans warm up.
2 cleans heavy – rest 30 seconds – 4 throws maximum power – rest 120 sec – 3 times through
3 back squats heavy – rest 30 seconds – 4 throws maximum power – rest 120 sec – 3 times through
3 heavy pulls – rest 30 seconds – 4 throws maximum power – rest 120 sec – 3 times through
- Active recovery balance and judo drills on swiss ball -
Strength endurance block :
(Clean – 3 squats – Jerk) x3 – no rest – 3 judo throws with move and moderate opposition – rest 120 sec- 3 times through.
- Active recovery balance and judo drills on swiss ball -
20 Forearms rolls – 1/2 rope climbs – Hold the judogi in static pull up position for 30 sec. Rest 1 min, 3 x through.
Q4) Can you give an example of a conditioning session and explain what it is doing for the sport performer?
Let me repeat that judo is a complex, and technical sport. Making sets of 400m will improve the performer as a runner, not necessarily as a judo player. If players fancy running, I plan it. If they don’t, or if they are heavy weights, then we have enough tools more specific to judo to make it more relevant.
An example of a judo specific lactic tolerance training. The idea is to generate the lactic situation on the bike, then to express in this context maximum power within judo moves, and finally to regenerate power in a very advanced fatigue situation.
Warm up 15 minutes, including judo drills and max accelerations.
Pre-fatigue : As many meters as possible on a bike in 45 seconds.
Judo specific (max power) : 3 times 15 sec ichi-komis (judo movements) with 5 sec rest in between and a throw after each set.
Power endurance : 5 tuck jumps (as high as possible) – 2 throws – 5 sec rest – 5 Medicine ball slams - 2 throws – 5 sec rest – 5 burpees – 2 throws
Rest 5 minutes – 4 sets.
Q5) Other than judo what other sports have you trained people for?
I developed initially in football, doing my final placement as a student at Real de Madrid FC. Then I coached french boxing team, taekwondo, mma players.
Q6) How hard was designing the prep for the British judo Team GB athletes for the 2012 Olympics?
Very. First because people are very conservative in training, and the new way isn’t very welcomed. It took 2 years to build the confidence, and players who really benefited are the one who committed immediately, such as Gemma Gibbons, Ben Quilter or Colin Oates. Second because I was in charge of Juniors, seniors, visually impaired, men and women, and even now and then some cadets. Some players where full time, some did not relocate 100% at the institute, many did not relocate at all. I was therefore planing for different groups and individuals, that was very difficult.
Q7) Whats your favourite exercise to build strength?
Squats. I know what you think : “this guy just spent 30 min to tell me how specific strength training must me and to go easy on general weights”. But people who truly understand judo knows how important the legs are in throwing somebody and even… in griping somebody. Strong legs means strong grip and strong throw. The Squat is a very specific and efficient way to become strong at judo.
Q8) How important is testing when working with athletes?
When working with athletes, very. They love to be tested, re-assured, their progress to be measured and shown to them. But honestly, a lactic shuttle test, a beep test, or a jump test only shows you what it measures. The only judo test is how likely you are to throw the best players in the world. Only an expert reading of judo gives you this. Strength and power are monitored daily in the gym (I use tendo for power, and write every weight my players lift). Testing is a powerful communication tool, but a waste of training time.
Q9) Whats been your best experience working with elite athletes?
I guess I do this for two things : for the medal, and for the emotions of sharing such a hard and long time with somebody. There were plenty of them both all along, so many I can’t list them all here. Plus you don’t know most of foreigners I have been working with. One of the best, if not the best was when VI player Ben Quilter broke his knee 8 weeks before games. We decided to do it no matter what and the preparation was very challenging. Helping him winning his paralympic bronze was thrilling, and a great achievement. This guy is one of the greatest champions I have ever work with, and will now be one of the best professional I will work with (he is know a physiologist, and a coach).
Q10) What four tips would you give our readers wanted to train more specific for a sport?
1) If you want to coach it, practice it. You don’t need to be an expert, but you can’t observe and measure everything. You need to feel to understand, to suffer to realize.
2) Use the sport itself as much as possible. It will save time, optimize transfers, develop specific conditioning. Use more simple stuff only to increase or measure precisely intensity
3) Understand it well. Many people think judo is strength of upper body, and aerobic. They are wrong, it is much more than this, and they prepare people aside of the full target. I can imagine this is the same in every sport.
4) Do not replicate, make it your way.
Aurélien has also developed an app, which will soon be in English, for coaches. It is called eTester pro, and allows coaches to test (all Aerobic beep tests are there), and to calibrate training (evolved timer). As soon as it is on the English Store I will post a review on it for you all to read.
We are very grateful for Aurélien taking time out to answer the questions in such depth and hope you enjoy reading this as much as me! I would strongly recommending Following Aurélien on his twitter feed @Twittorel and on his Facebook as there is loads of interesting posts and links that you will find useful.