September 25

Hard To Make, Harder To Win


Eyes On Prize: The Fremantle Dockers
Eyes On Prize: The Fremantle Dockers

It’s Grand Final week in the AFL and the familiarity of the last week in September is settling in. Both competing teams have acknowledged their stellar performance in the season thus far but quickly mention the enormous mountain still yet to climb. The eyes-on-the-prize approach of both clubs were summed up beautifully by Fremantle coach Ross Lyon after last week’s win to qualify for the ‘big dance.’


“They’re hard to make, they’re even harder to win” – Ross Lyon, Fremantle Coach


As coach, I always listen to what other coaches say about performance and preparation. To see what we can adapt to our regime. What can I learn from the masters (and the hacks) that might be useful for my own charges?


The essence of the words spoken above was the theme for coaches across the board as they departed the finals series, one by one, at the hands of opposition’s more talented, more committed, better prepared, luckier, et al. In this immensely competitive environment when whole seasons can be decided by just one great moment (or brain fade), each coach has pointed out the secret to making it all the way through, even if they didn’t.


“You’ve just got to keep presenting” – John Longmire, Sydney Coach 


You’ve got to be ready and presenting your best work when the opportunity arises. Being prepared has many facets, some are:


– Being injury free

  • Rested and primed
  • Having the base fitness
  • Enthusiasm for the battle
  • The will to stick to the plan in battle


Often premierships are won on the last-man-standing principle, see Steven Bradbury, but that chance can’t be taken if you’re sitting in the grandstand having a 7-course lunch, (pie and 6-pack). It’s also not going to be won by the guy who was at Melba’s ‘til 5am that morning and it’s certainly not by the battler who only came back to training because he wanted to get the details for the end-of-season tour to North Straddie.


Regardless of the level we train at, we can learn from the above factors in our own health and fitness quests.


  • Are you maintaining your body to avoid injury and time on the sidelines when the important months roll around?
  • Is your body rested and primed to hit the big stuff at full fury?
  • How’s your base, did you start training last Sunday or last year?


“They’re hard to make…”


Even if you’ve done everything right and followed the preparation plan to the letter and made it most of the way, you’ve still got a problem:


“They’re even harder to win.” 


Getting there is just half the battle. Like losing 5kg’s when you wanted to lose 7, personally in know the difference in workload and race pressure between running 72 mins for the half-marathon and 69. It’s huge. Like these guys playing on Saturday, we haven’t done it until it’s done. Ring legend George Foreman once said:


“These young fighters sign the big deals but they forget they have to fight for it” 


Whatever we’ve done, there’s still more to do. Whatever the goal, we must remain desperate until our day is won.


“Grand Finals aren’t won with beautiful football, it’s just a hard slog” – Alastair Clarkson, Hawthorn Coach 



Take Opportunities,

Do the hard slog.


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