Athlete Buy-in

I’ve posed the following question to a number of athletes
recently; “If there are 168 hours in a week, what will make the bigger
difference, the one or two hours you spend here training for athletic
development, or the other 166 hours?”. It’s to highlight the point that being a
serious competitor in any sport is not a part-time thing.

Obviously, young athletes still need to have a life outside
of sport, but sometimes it’s about making subtle changes or additions to
lifestyle. I had plenty of learning curves and hindsight moments during my
athletics career, and now that I’m in the coaching sector, I want to pass my lessons
learned on to the next generation of sports performers.

Here’s my current top three pieces of advice to young
athletes of any sport:

Make time for Injury
prevention training:

Injury prevention can come in many forms and can be a full training
session in itself. We’ve recently been educating the younger athletes about
what they can do away from training to minimise the risk of injury. Afterall, getting
into good habits at an early age will boost chances of career longevity.
Flexibility and mobility routines are easy to incorporate into a daily schedule
and can be done in the smallest of spaces, yoga is a great way of incorporating
this into your training week. Other key things to consider with injury
prevention are, glute activation, core activation and foam rolling. Feel free
to get in touch if you want more info on these 😊

Keep a Training Diary:

Far from rivalling the works of Samuel Pepys, keeping a simple
training diary which details key things about a session can help with reflection,
planning and improving your training schedule. Record key data such as personal
bests, testing times, minutes played, weight lifted etc. Rate your session out
of 10, how long did you train? What did you think about your performance? Some
athletes even record hours of sleep, litres of water consumed or what they’ve
eaten that day. A good training diary can help an athlete switch off after
training or plan what they want to bring up in a meeting with a coach.

One other thing about a training diary is that it acts as a
great motivator. I remember how seeing my progress or regress would really give
me the boost I needed to make the next week’s training better.

Understand your sport:

This was a thing I learned later in my career, understanding
why your coach asks you to do something or asking questions can help adherence.
Could you coach someone else? There would be times I would ‘go through the
motions’ in training because I didn’t know why I was doing something, or what
it was supposed to be improving. A classic one is stretching, I used to hate
it! But once I understood how flexibility would help me lift weights better,
run faster, and pole vault higher I took it more seriously and improved quicker.
Never be afraid to ask your coach why you are being asked to do something!

There are many other things athletes need to consider when aiming to be a 24/7 professional, but for now, those are my 3 main pieces of advice, feel free to add to them to your routine and let us know how you get on.

Take care


Richardson Sport client Isaac Success signs new five-year deal.

Last month, Watford forward and Richardson Sport client Isaac Success put pen to paper on a new five-year deal at Vicarage Road.

Success, who has now signed with the Premier League club until at least 2023, put in some pre-season work at our Ten Acres Lane base in the summer, following the completion of his loan spell at La Liga side Malaga CF.

The Nigerian international has since returned to Watford, having signed for them back in 2016, making 19 appearances for the Hornets so far this season in all competitions, scoring three goals.

The 22-year-old currently has four caps for Nigeria, with three of them coming in his breakout 2018/19 campaign.

Having worked with him in the summer, Wayne has been impressed with Isaac’s progress. “When Isaac started the pre-season camp with myself, I mentioned to him that the upcoming season would be very important and so he would need to go in to it with a better attitude.

“With a new manager in charge, this would give him the time in pre-season to impress and stake a claim to be a first team regular”, Wayne said.

“I was so pleased to see him go back fitter, stronger and with a better approach of being an athlete.

“His agent quoted the sports science department had mentioned that he [Isaac] was in the top group during the testing that they carried out during pre-season and that he looks fantastic and in the best shape that they’ve ever seen him”, Wayne added.

Wayne and everyone here at Richardson Sport would like to continue to pass on our best wishes to Isaac, in his current endeavours at Watford!

Athletic Development Update

Boys working their Hamstrings

It’s been a busy couple of months with the introduction of Athletic Development classes at Richardson Sport, so far the feedback from athletes and parents has been extremely positive. Thank you to parents for bringing their young superstars and to Wayne and Emma for helping set up and promote, oh and not to leave out Mike Melvin too who's been a big help!

I recently put out a post on Instagram of a training hall with very basic, ‘old school’ PE equipment. I wanted to highlight how physical education has changed in recent years, resulting in a large percentage of less physically literate children. I understand it would be naïve to blame children’s lack of physical competency solely on school PE, the modern-day world provides plenty of barriers to stop children moving and engaging in physical activity. Academic pressure, less outdoor space, TV and games consoles are just a few examples that spring to mind. Unfortunately lack of physical activity and movement competency at a young age can have life-long consequences.

I guess my question is, if children are missing out on key fundamental movement development, how do we create an environment where they can develop these skills? We’ve seen ‘sporty’ kids come into Richardson Sport that can’t squat, land, balance or co-ordinate simple movements, demonstrating another problem, all to often children are thrust into a sport specific ‘professional’  training environment without any emphasis placed on developing general athleticism.  

That’s where we want to help.

A key theory I’m integrating into session planning is the youth physical development model. The model visually highlights what physical qualities should be being prioritised at what age/ stage of development. For example, children between the ages of 5-9 should be developing fundamental movement skills, agility and balance, with less emphasis placed on sport specific skill. That’s why our 6-8 years old’s class incorporates a large section dedicated to ninja warrior,a TV classic and favourite part of the session for most, an ever-changing obstacle course which develops a number of physical qualities through a wide variety of movements.

Our fitness for football athletic development classes have also proved very popular, some of the athletes were shocked that you can do an hour-long training session without kicking a ball once! At this stage of maturation (11-13 years old), strength, power and speed development require a larger emphasis. That’s why we’ve seen lots of sprint-based work, balanced out with (sometimes painful) hamstring stretches.

Moving forwards, we’re looking forward to introducing new classes and ideas, athletic development for performance (13-15-year olds) is being introduced very soon, with plenty other opportunities to get involved on the way. Keep an eye out on social media and the website for updates.

Thanks for reading,

Take care.


Harry Kane should he have been rested after the World Cup?

Wayne's words - my take on what's topical now

Sky Sports News - Craig Bellamy on Harry Kane

The 2018 /19 season has just started and already the media are talking about Harry Kane, should he have been given time off after the World Cup to rest and spend quality time with his family?

A player so important to Spurs…….So is the club doing enough to protect Kane, given the physical demands of the Premier League?

Kane has had a couple of weeks off after a World Cup and then gone straight back to training and Premier League games with high intensity. In my opinion as an outsider looking in, Kane lacks the conditioning required to cope with his current workload which could lead to injuries. If Kane does get injured who’s responsible?

Ultimately, the decision lies with the manager as he would like to play his strongest team possible every game but are managers backed into a corner? Managers feel pressure (I assume) to play their best players/team, but tired players are more vulnerable to injuries.

A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine quoted: Soccer is a vigorous sporting activity with relatively high injury incidence (17-24 injuries per 1000 playing hours) compared to other sports. The costs of injuries to soccer players are enormous, the cost of treatment and loss of production through time off work has been estimated at about £1 billion in Britain each year.

To minimise the number of injuries and the associated costs, avoiding the early retirement of professional soccer players, and provide a healthy sports environment, preventive programmes require information on injury risk of injury associated with different aspects of the game.

My opinion, Kane should have been rested to ensure he is fit for play later in the season but that’s easy for me to say without the weight of the board on my shoulders.


Jesse Lingard joins us for pre-season training

Richardson Sport are delighted to announce that Manchester United's Jesse Lingard is joining us this summer, prior to the start of his pre-season training with the club.

A big season lies ahead with United back amongst Europe's elite in the UEFA Champions League and a likely World Cup appearance for England in Russia in June 2018. Lingard is determined to impress bosses Jose Mourinho and Gareth Southgate, by making his mark for club and country.

We look forward to working together and contributing to his success throughout the 2017/18 season.

Mirror Online:

Manchester Evening News:

Football Academies and Education, a good mix?

A rare night off I had to watch my eldest daughter graduate from primary school at the end of the summer. Afterwards Driving back to Yorkshire on my favourite M62 motorway I receive a call from a parent thanking me for the work which we have done behind the scenes with his son and how I changed his outlook on not just being a Footballer but being an Athlete and a young man.

This client I have been working with for around two years, he came to Richardson sport when we were based at the Etihad Campus (so about 2014/5), a referral from Another client. He told me his club were due to give him the answer within the next week about the potential of the offering of a scholarship placement, but he needed to work on a couple of key areas which was strength/ power / speed. Technically he is a fantastic footballer this was mentioned in the player's parents evening.

His dad asked the club ‘do we get any help and guidance with the points that you have raised’? The clubs reply was ‘we will monitor the situation, help and give him a program from our Sports Science Department’. Around a month later he was released, another foreign player (strong powerful and very Athletic) had come to the club to replace him. When the club called my client in for a meeting they told his dad that his son didn't fit the profile of the type of player that the new management wanted and hadn't grown as much as they thought he would. He was not Strong or Agile enough. The Head of the Academy, Head of Education, and the Head of Operations all told the player and dad the news.

The main issue wasn't just Football related, it was also the player’s education. The Head of Education at the club advised him he had to leave the school he was based at organised and paid for by the club (this was thought to be a cost-cutting exercise, as this wasn’t what was agreed when he joined). His dad went to the FA and the Premier league regarding this issue. Whilst waiting to resolve this matter the player had to wait two months to re-start his education back at the school he knew and loved, during this time all school work was sent to his home for him to complete with no support from club or School.

So, are we failing our aspiring talent? The statics don't lie nearly seven hundred Academy players were released last season one percent made the cut. So how many other pupils of academies experience such upheaval and potential damage to their education? And what can be done to stop it? I guess not much, but I would think twice before putting my child into a school paid for by a football club and recommend exploring what will happen if the club decides to walk away from the agreement and how will that change be managed.

Richardson Sport is here for all things football, even if that's just someone to listen.

Professional approach can help Britannia aces to rule


First published Friday 13 February 2015 inSportby Neil Bonnar

A NEWLY established under 17’s team have adopted a professional and innovative approach to youth football.

Bolton-based Britannia AFC play a year above their age-group; consult the services of a sport scientist and are making links with a number of non-league football clubs.

Currently mid-table in the Under-17s Tameside Football League, Britannia were formed in May 2014 when manager Neil Pickup brought together groups of players he had either coached, or coached against.

The nucleus of the team can be traced back to Ladybridge FC where Pickup coached the u13s and u14s; some of whom now play for Britannia at Eagley Sports Complex.

Pickup wanted his young charges to stretch themselves and accordingly entered the 15-16 year olds into an u17s league. His players have also been introduced to sport scientist Wayne Richardson whose former clients include Mario Balotelli.

Mr Richardson has given the youngsters individual screenings, identifying weaknesses for them to work on.

“It is all about creating a professional outlook,” said Pickup. “I want the lads to see that they can have a future in the game and so I’m trying to create an academy mindset.

"It doesn’t matter that they’re not yet at a club. My aim is to get half of these guys involved in semi or professional football.”

A major step towards achieving this end is securing links with clubs. Pickup has already established strong ties with FC United of Manchester and their academy manager Paul Bright. Formerly a Manchester United coach, Bright has taken Britannia training sessions and invited four players for trials with his club’s u18s scholars.

Pickup is hoping to form similar bonds with other clubs including Chorley and Stockport County.

Richardson Sport featured in MEN


With the number of English players in the Premier League continuing to fall each year, the FA have set about reversing that pattern.

And two Mancunians are doing more than their fair share to help local youngsters live the dream of becoming a professional footballer.

Wayne Richardson, from Moss Side, worked with Greater Manchester Police as a youth support worker before choosing to focus on establishing himself as a strength and conditioning coach.

After working with various local non-league sides, the 42-year-old earned the opportunity to work with the likes of City, Leeds and Nottingham Forest.

And having built his reputation within the game, he set up his own business in 2010, Richardson Sport, helping Academy and professional players who want to do extra fitness training in their own time.

He works with Premier League footballers. As Mario Balotelli's spell with City was drawing to a close, he called on Richardson's services to help get him back in shape and make a flying start to his AC Milan career.

'Pro' players usually come to him when they're out of contract or coming back from injury, but his passion is grassroots football and helping aspiring footballers succeed in the ultra-competitive world of Premier League and Football League Academies.

Such is the way Richardson looks after his clients he jokes he's the Erin Brockovich of Academy football.

Some of them are as young as seven and they - and their families - live in constant fear of being released.

One minute a kid is touted as a future star, the next they're being told they're a month away from being let go. And each year new kids are signed, often from abroad, pushing others down the pecking order. All the while their bodies are constantly changing.

But becoming a pro is about much more than being fit and talented. For all the money clubs invest in facilities and coaching, they don't have a support system in place to help Academy players overcome the emotional, psychological and social issues they inevitably face.

That's where Richardson Sport comes in. As well as boosting players' fitness they help parents deal with their son adjusting from grassroots football to becoming a potential pro.

Richardson therefore describes his company as a 'Football Fitness Coaching and Player Mentoring service'.

"It's like a Citizen's Advice Bureau," he said. "It's a 24-hour job, I get calls in the middle of the night.

"Parents are crying, they're saying 'my son's going to get released', 'he's got problems at school', 'we've been approached by an agent'. Sometimes the kids call and they're saying 'please don't tell my parents'.

"I used to think 'I just do fitness', but now it's become a massive umbrella. My job role changes from being a fitness coach to a social worker."

And Richardson can speak from experience. While he didn't make it any further than semi-pro as a player, he was offered the job of lead sports scientist by Portsmouth in 2008 - when they were in the Premier League.

Before he'd even started the club went into adiminstration and that blow inspired him to go it alone.

He met with the PFA and the Premier League to pitch his idea of providing a "backroom staff for grassroots players" and although they passed up the opportunity to help, Richardson has established that service - without having a penny of funding.

"There's been some difficult times where people don't want to see you progress," he said.

"I was told it'd never work, that I'd never been a professional so no-one would come to me.

"But one Premier League told me 'we don't have the time to do what you do', so I knew then that I had a chance.

"There's been some resistance from clubs as well. I don't want to rival any club, I've offered to support what they do.

"But some have said 'why do you want to pay somebody to do that', and the parents have said that it's about trust. They know they can come to us for impartial advice.

"One of our clients moved from one club to another for £25,000. We worked with him for six months after the club physio misdiagnosed an injury and his parents told the club 'why should you take all the credit, you're not responsible for my son's development, he is'."

From being a one-man band, Richardson Sport has grown to a five-man team which includes the other Mancunian - Laurence Fisher.

Although the 31-year-old from Longsight is a licensed agent, he sees himself more as a mentor as he too has first-hand experience of the industry. His younger brother was released by Bolton in his teens but then earned a pro contract with Rochdale and is now on the fringes of the first team.

"It was an eye-opener for me to discover the ins and outs of football," he said.

"It was interesting to go through that journey with him, all the highs and lows and managing that emotional roller-coaster or my brother.

"I saw him mature at Rochdale and I thought I can help others progress too."

Besides Richardson and Fisher - who both have a UEFA 'B' coaching licence - there's also a sports scientist, a scout and a psychologist.

"Because of our previous roles and our background, it gives us an understanding of what they're going through," he said.

"We all bring something different to the table and have experience at grassroots level. We've got more of an holistic approach, we're more hands-on, and we believe that's what makes us unique."

Based at Sportcity, Richardson Sport now has around 70 clients, some at Academies such as United, Liverpool and Burnley, and they even have to turn some down.

"We have to be realistic about what we can do for people," said Fisher. "If we can't help someone we'll tell them.

"Our main goal is to give every player the best opportunity of becoming a professional footballer, no matter how many barriers they may face.

"There's not enough English players playing first-team football. We're not saying we've got the solutions but if we can play a small part in increasing that number then our job's done.

"But even if they don't make it as a professional footballer, we want to give them the tools to use in other walks of life. I think that's what makes us different from everyone else."

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