An exercise scientist will spend at least three years embedded in the La Trobe University Bendigo Pioneers, in a bid to improve player performance, and develop a training framework for NAB League clubs.
Exercise science masters graduate, Jake Jennings, recently moved from Brisbane, where he worked as a strength and conditioning coach, to become La Trobe University’s first industry PhD student in Bendigo.
An industry PhD connects industry partners to La Trobe’s world-leading research capabilities, while addressing a problem that is of direct relevance to the organisation.
Until now La Trobe’s industry PhD students have been based in Melbourne and Mildura.
Mr Jennings said he would spend at least three years working closely with the Pioneers’ players, coaching staff and management, to improve player and coach performance.
“Embedding myself in the Club for three full seasons of football will give me the data I need to evaluate the strengths of their current program, and suggest changes,” Mr Jennings said.
“The aim is to create a holistic program that gets the absolute best out of the players, while balancing that drive for performance with player wellbeing – including avoiding injury.
“Sometimes players from the NAB League drafted to AFL Clubs aren’t physically ready, having not been exposed to that training intensity or volume. I want to help make that transition as smooth as possible for them.
“I’ll also look at how NAB League clubs can make it easier for players to train on their own time, particularly when they live in rural or remote locations.”
PhD supervisor, Associate Professor Michael Kingsley, said La Trobe University in Bendigo is well-placed to embrace an industry PhD of this kind.
“We already have a very strong relationship with the Pioneers, established over many years,” Associate Professor Kingsley said.
“We host their administrative and coaching staff at our Bendigo campus, and partner with them to give our exercise science and exercise physiology students valuable industry experience as they study in our accredited courses.
“This co-funded PhD will not only benefit both organisations, it will, ultimately, improve player performance and wellbeing across the League.”
Pioneers’ Talent Manager, Mr Stephen Sharp, said the Club was excited about the potential of the role.
“We expect to learn a lot through the process, as we benefit from Jake’s expertise,” Mr Sharp said.
“Though we regularly assess our training programs, we’re always keen to explore new approaches.
“This level of rigorous attention, over a long period of time, paid to our players and their training regimes should yield some interesting results.”
The NAB League is the country’s premiere under-18 Australian rules football competition.
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