July 14, 2012. Printed in the Pensacola News Journal. Written by Jamie Secola.
Argentinians find second home at API
The players on the Argentina national rugby team refer to the Athletes’ Performance facility at the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze as “our house.”
The Pumas — who first visited the API in 2007 — had been doing preseason training there for the past two weeks, and many days, the team would be there for 10 to 12 consecutive hours.
That routine is the foundation of the Pumas’ success and the API at Andrews is the best place to lay down that foundation, said head coach Santiago Phelan.
Five years ago, the team’s first visit to the Gulf Breeze API resulted in a third-place finish at the World Cup. Since then, training at the API at Andrews has become somewhat of a preseason ritual for the Pumas.
“We came here to prepare for the World Cup in 2007, and it worked really well for us,” Phelan said. “This is our house. How we work here, the people here, the kind hospitality — I’m very happy with all of it.”
This time around, the Argentinians’ focus is on getting ready for the Rugby Championship Tournament, which begins in August. There, they’ll face the top three teams in the world. The Pumas are currently ranked No. 8.
“We’re getting ready to play the best rugby teams in the world,” said Eusebio Guinazu, a player who’s been on the team for nine years. “So now, our mind-set is on our fitness and to get prepared for next week, because back in Argentina, we can start thinking about rugby.”
Simon Fathers is the guy who keeps the Argentinians focused. While the players are putting in 12-hour days, Fathers — who took over the rugby program at API about two years ago — is putting in 16-hour days. The renowned trainer doesn’t mind. He travels with the team year-round and enjoys taking them “home” to the Andrews Institute.
“They come back here for the goodness of the place,” Fathers said. “This place is like utopia. All the specialists here work together as a team. It’s a magnificent, world-class training facility and a world-class system.
“The players work really, really hard here, but then they’re in a tropical paradise when they head home. So when they’re here, they’re focused on doing their job, but when they’re done with their work, they’re able to rest and recover. And that’s very important.”
Especially for Phelan, whose job it is to make sure every player gives 100 percent.
“Here is where we get the start of our season,” Phelan said. “People here at AP give us methodology, support. What we find here is very big. It gives us very good structure, and the trainers explain what they’re doing so that you not only work hard, but you know the reasons behind everything that you’re doing.
“The secret to our success is continuing what we’ve been working on here and putting that into practice.”
It’s been my privilege to have recently worked with the Athletes Performance Eagle Fund Project involving the US special forces wounded warriors participants post injury. Athletes Performance have set in motion a fundraising initiative, ‘The underwater marathon,’ to raise money for these soldiers who need access to the high quality care offered by Athletes Performance and the Andrews Institute in Florida. Please watch this footage and see for your self how we are changing these soldiers and their families lives. If you wish to donate, I can personally assure you it is a valuable and amazing program.
American Eagles rugby player Danny La Prevotte underwent an intensive 8 week training regime to prepare for his USA international test matches. San Francisco Super league head coach Paul Keeler highlights La Prevottes raw talent saying ” La Prevotte is one of the up & coming athletes in the future of USA Rugby”. San Francisco are the current 2011 USA Super league champions and La Prevotte was one of the key members to this winning team. Fathers mentions this intensive preparation training will give athletes the ability to perform at the international level and avoid the chances of injury. In the USA Ammeter athletes are expected to perform at the highest level against full time contracted athletes who do some form of daily training as part of their job. A non professional athlete such as Danny needs to prepare for the step up in intensity and work load of in-season international rugby demands. That is exactly what we have focused on during his time here and he has made remarkable improvements.
One of the World’s Top 44 Professional Surfers, Australian charger Adam Melling, has just spent time with performance specialist, Simon Fathers, preparing for the final events of the 2011 WSP season. After his elimination in round 3 of the USA Rip Curl Pro ‘Somewhere in San Francisco’ Event, Melling wasted no time and immediately Utilized Fathers’ support and knowledge of surf specific training. Melling underwent an intensive 8-day regime that will help Melling with the final Hawaiian based events. Melling has been training using movement enhancing technology and Fathers training philosophy, aimed at improving individual performance. The pair have been working hard in all aspects of Mellings preparation to give him the best possible chance of success in the Hawaiian events, which will include the prestigious Pipeline Masters event on the 10th of December. Fathers speaks highly of ‘Mellings’ dedication and determination towards improving his physical performance which Fathers suggests will support Mellings ample amount of surfing skill. Fathers mentions that surfers have previously neglected to realize they are elite athletes and the recent shift in the paradigm towards performance enhancement training is great for the sport and the athletes themselves.
If you’ve been following the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, you know that Argentina’s Pumas are having an impressive run at the title, as they make their way into the quarter finals after an explosive 25-7 win against Georgia last weekend. This World Cup has showcased the impressive return of their star kicker Felipe Contepomi after a brutal rib injury that kept him sidelined for two weeks. Throughout his time off he was still able to train and maintain his fitness despite his injury using a TRX Suspension Trainer. Recently, the Pumas’ head of strength and conditioning, Simon Fathers, took few minutes to talk about how he has used TRX Training to take on the unique challenges presented by the grueling demands of the scrum, in a league where on average there are two injuries per-club per-match.
Rugby is a game where you are either resisting rotational force from impact, or your trying to transfer rotational force,’ Fathers says, “it’s a wrestling contact sport, its repetitive and ongoing, so the ability to do that and do that powerfully and explosively, in the best coordinated way that you can really makes a big difference between our athletes and other athletes is that they have really good multi-segmental movement.”
The two biggest challenges Fathers faces are building multi-directional strength, and training athletes around injuries. Fathers’ athletes need to stay stable while dealing with unbalanced resistance coming at them from multiple angles, yet still remain mobile in order to deflect and transfer this resistance into momentum. Imagine trying to perform a squat while simultaneously being pulled and pushed in two different directions. Fathers feels that imbalanced resistance is where conventional training falls short. Typically athletes fail to integrate three-dimensional movement, they don’t transfer force in a multi-plainer direction. As he sees it, “generic training programs tend to train for muscles and not movement.”