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How to make Pre-Season Training Interesting, Relevant and More Fun
June 19, 2018
I Hate Pre-Season TrainingThis is often the thought of players who are forced to undergo various fitness tests and long slow runs as part of a pre-season fitness programme.Doing repeated doggies, shuttle runs and various circuits, with barely a ball in sight is enough to put most players off.It doesn't have to be this way.

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Fuelling athletes in the real world: Dave Ellis

“Athletes have an inability to recover from one beat down to the next”

dave ellis fuelling tacticsDave Ellis presented twice at GAIN on fuelling athletes and supplementation. He is quite simply the best person I have seen talking about nutrition and feeding athletes in the real world. We shall be doing a live Q&A with Dave next week for our athletes and parents.

Stimulant dependent generation

A combination of lack of fitness, short off seasons, travel, pressure to perform and overall stress lead athletes to seek stimulants.

This means that there “are a bunch of landmines out there, that can go off at any time.” As a coach, you must realise what is happening, and be ready to adjust your training accordingly.

The stimulants come in different forms: over the counter ones like caffeine drinks or high fructose ones; or hidden in “herbal remedy” type health drinks or pills.

Chinese Grasp on supplementation

The slides, stats and videos that Ellis showed on the supplementation factories and warehouses were shocking to say the least.

Metal filings, hair, dust and bits of plastic are some of the things discovered in the food batches sampled. As they are sold by weight, metal might be heavier by volume than powder!

All the Vitamin C sources for fortification and supplements in the USA come from China. The quality control is not good, whether by accident or design. (This report from the FDA shows 615 supplements have been identified as tainted since Jan 1st 2008).

Talking of design, Ellis made some clear points about how the profit driven industry has a massive influence in the things we eat and buy.

It is a political landscape, where Gatorade pay the NFL $1.1 billion to be the official supplement provider to the league.  Ellis can’t give Vitamin D supplements to NFL players because Gatorade don’t make them.

Research Fraud

The profit driven industry create poor research studies, then publish them in pseudo science journals, then spin the poor results to the health industry.

This comes to you the reader via newspaper articles or adverts featuring sports stars drinking sugar drinks.

Over trained or under recovered?

Ellis talked a lot about the stressors involved in serious competition and their impact on the athletes. Training volumes and intensities are not that great for college and professional team sport athletes.

Instead, the players do not recover enough due to other factors. His BIG 4 contributors are:

  1. Lack of sleep
  2. Binge eating patterns
  3. Inadequate hydration
  4. Missing post workout supplement/ food timing

3 step approach to fuelling

fuelling athletes

Great poster

Here comes the real world application. Ellis shows how he sets up eating stations or works with teams to get these 3 key steps followed:

1 Less down time due to illness: eat fresh foods and vegetables. This should be put on your plate first.

2 Energy critical for work: slow and fast releasing carbohydrates, to be periodised according to your activity that day.

3 Less muscle soreness and improved recovery time: low, medium and high fat protein sources. Use a variety throughout the day, and only low fat proteins on rest days.

The poster shown on the right lists all the foods that are recommended and how they contribute to this pattern of eating.

This was not some lecture by a pseudo scientist talking about lipids and pathways and a diet based around marathon running. Nor was it a fad junkie trying to promote the latest supplements.

Instead, it was a highly informative and practical look at how important nutrition is and how athletes can improve their performance through simple changes.

I have taken his 3 step approach and showed it the athletes I work with. I provide our athletes with one of these posters, and they are really useful.

Further reading

The history of supplements: read how teenage gullible boys became the target market.

If you have any questions for Dave, please leave a comment below that we can add to the live chat next week.


  1. […] 2 looked at nutrition, agility progressions and speed training techniques, plus pre activity assessments and […]

  2. […] of fruit. I only eat fish and lean cuts of meat. The only grains I eat are wholegrains- I put the right fuel into my […]

  3. […] Be aware of the high risk of contamination when taking supplements. […]

  4. […] an easy way of distinguishing between those who are serious about performance and the also-rans. The 3 step approach to fuelling properly will ensure […]

  5. craig says:

    Some really good information here. Just watched the youtube webinar with Dave Ellis, which was a very interesting read, and I was wondering if the 3 step fueling tactics table is available to buy etc ?

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