Q & A with Adam Whitney at Hull FC
Interveiw with Strength & Conditioning Coach, Adam Whitney, Hull FC
Q1. As strength and conditioning coach, what role do you play, to ensure you get the best output from each player?
At Hull FC, strength and conditioning coach’s main role is to improve athletic performance, getting the players best prepared for the competition they face while also trying to reduce injuries. Working together to design and implement specific strength, speed and conditioning programmes for the players. We use information from the physiotherapy department on past and current injuries, as well as data gained from a battery of physical tests via our own screening of each player to determine what areas a player needs to focus on. We then develop appropriate, individualised specific programmes to ensure that each player can develop and eradicate weaknesses taking into account past injuries. We must ensure that each player uses correct technique and proper mechanics with a goal of injury reduction.
Q2. What is the hardest part of the training schedule?
I personally feel the hardest part of the training schedule is pre season due to the sheer volume of sessions and long days. As you can imagine a lot is packed into that part of the season to ensure each player is up to speed not only physically and technically but also emotionally confident in their readiness for the start of the Super League season.
Q3. How important is diet? And do the team have to follow a strict diet throughout the season?
Diet and nutrition is a vital component in our players daily lives, it can certainly help enhance performance in training and on match days.
We have provided our players with information regarding nutrition, which is kept in their training diary this season. These diaries contain information on game day nutrition, healthy breakfast/meal options, smoothies, diet plans etc.
We are fortunate at our training ground to have a team chef to make the players a well balanced healthy meal for lunch every training day. We also provide the players with a variety of breakfast options given at early training they can prepare themselves. Players are provided with supplementation not only to help recover from the daily training sessions but to help their individual goal, whether that be to gain lean mass or to reduce body fat percentage. All of this allows us to monitor, for the most part, that our players are eating correctly through the training day and hope that when they leave the ground the information they have gained will help them maintain this at home.
Q4. We know, you are all fans of our coconut oil. Why is it so intrinsic to your diets?
Our players love coconut oil and can’t get enough of it; I can honestly say our players in some form or another will you use it every day.
It is used by our chef at the training ground with every meal; our players take a tub home and use it to make their own evening dinners. They use it not only because they enjoy the taste but also for all the healthy benefits, aiding body fat reduction, boosting energy levels, increasing immunity against a host of infections and diseases as well as for personal skin care.
Q5. How do the team prepare mentally for each game?
We recognise that each player is an individual and have their own specific routine that they like to follow. This preparation will have been learnt over their careers so that the player can perform optimally for competition. At Hull FC we have brought in external sports psychologists that have helped by providing classes for the group and/or for specific individuals to help provide them with the mental tools to manage their performance and on occasion, tweak their routines to make them more effective.
Q6. The team seems very close, what’s the comradery like?
We are really lucky to have a great bunch of players at Hull FC, they all get along really well; there are no cliques or groups. It seems that everyone likes spending time with each other at the training ground and away from it which definitely helps create a good environment to work in. We believe that at Hull FC this comradery has been a huge part of our success over the past two seasons.
Q7. What does post-match recovery look like at HULL FC?
Post match recovery is different for each player; individuals may find a certain recovery method will benefit them more than another. We make it compulsory for post match recovery for players to consume a recovery drink to rapidly replace the low glycogen stores in the muscle and decrease muscle protein breakdown. We also provide each player with a high dose of omega 3’s to help reduce inflammation. Each player is weighed to see how much fluid they need to replace post match. Ice baths are available to reduce swelling and to flush out lactic acid.
After game day players attend our local Total Fitness swimming pool for movement progressions under low load and low impact, finishing with contrast bathing, where they will alternate between hot and cold showers/baths allowing an increase blood flow to the muscles helping speed up the removal of lactic acid.
Q8. Has injury been a problem this season for the team?
No, this season soft tissue injuries have been below the leagues average. Impact injuries have increased from the previous season which has mainly been down to bad luck on most occasions but return to play time has decreased which has been a positive factor which we identified as due to appropriate supplementation, equipment and rehabilitation strategies. This has allowed our head coach to have a larger pool of players to select from for each game. We were fortunate enough to have a fully fit squad to pick from for the Challenge Cup final and the league semi final this season.
Q9. What does down time look like for the player?
Every player spends their own down time differently, we have players that spend leisure with their families and enjoy family activity, while on the other side of the spectrum we have players that like to put their feet up for most of the day and just relax, taking their mind off rugby. It is vital players do get time away from the stresses of training and matches to rest and regenerate.
Q10. Any beach in the world – where would it be and why?
I would probably have to say Manly Beach Australia. I enjoy the Australian attitude to recreation which is certainly helped by the warm climate, very different from the beaches in Wales my home country.