I am elated to introduce the fourth presenter, Red Bull UK’s Darren Roberts. Darren brings exactly what we need to this summers edition of The Seminar, a unique perspective of not just high performance, but the true role of the strength and conditioning coach in the world of sports. I couldn’t be more excited to bring Darren to RVA this July and hope you are as well, but for now, let’s meet Darren Roberts…

JD: If you could, please give our readers a little background information about you, what your niche in the world of athletics is, accomplishments, how you got there, education, any products you have available and/or notable publications.

DR: Darren has a proven track record with world class action sports athletes stretching back over 20 years.

He served as a Gunner & Military Parachutist from 1989 to 1998, before leaving to pursue a career in strength & conditioning.  After a period of time as a private trainer, he began work part time with premiership rugby union and rugby league teams.

In 2002 Darren began to work with Red Bull UK on various high-performance projects with its athletes, where he went on to deliver the Red Bull UK High Performance Programme from 2008 until 2013. In January 2014 he joined ‘Harris & Ross’, a large physiotherapy company based in the north of England. He continues to deliver the high performance & sports medicine services to Red Bull UK and their action sport athletes, as well as many other action sports athletes from around the world – based in large facility near Manchester.

Alongside his work with professional athletes Darren regularly presents at performance and medical summits. He has presented on performance and rehabilitation to NASA, Nike, British Association of Sports & Exercise Medicine, European College of Sports & Exercise Medicine, Australian Strength & Conditioning Association , UK Strength & Conditioning Association and many others. He also writes for various action sports magazines and websites on his work with extreme sports

JD:Discuss with us the mistakes you see made by strength and conditioning coaches in the United States and around the world, and what you feel should be done differently/how to correct these issues.

DR: I can’t speak to any mistakes S&C coaches make in the US.  However as a frequent traveller around the world I see a comprehensive lack of awareness of what happens in the world of performance outside anyone’s immediate circle of influence.   Also if it’s not on social media, did it even happen?

Here’s a list of my key mistakes over the last 20 years;

  1. athletes to be good at training in the gym rather than in their sport
  2. Putting work before myself and family
  3. Failing to understand it’s just adult PE, chill out
  4. Not letting the athlete lead
  5. Treating the athlete like a set of KPI’s
  6. Failing to understand the athlete is a person with hopes, fears, dreams, emotions
  7. Not incorporating autonomy, creativity, decision making and emotions into the training process – but expecting them to do that in competition
  8. Trying to replicate the sport in the gym and being blinded by ‘specificity’ – when ‘relevance & context’ is more apt
  9. Sessions descending into circus training, except when they are from a circus….oh…wait
  10. Having all the answers and no questions
  11. Being convinced my training programme is unique and innovative – except it’s been done before 3,000 years ago
  12. Failing to understand or appreciate that the athlete is successful in spite of, not because of
  13. Presenting information to athletes like they’re scientists
  14. Training athletes today, based on yesterday’s information when I should be preparing them for tomorrow
  15. Failing to understand ‘high performance’ is nothing to do with sport, athletes or competition.

JD: What advice would you give a coach to improve knowledge in the lines of continuing education, meaning could you point our readers in a direction to find the scientific and practical information to improve the methods they use to improve performance?

DR: If you want to improve your knowledge of performance, and what the human body is truly capable of – don’t look with the world of sports performance.   At it’s core, the principal foundations of physical training can be followed back 1,000’s of years.   There’s only so may ways to pick up a weight, jump or run.

However, looking at the athlete is as a person, their hopes, dreams, desires, doubts and emotions all have a fundamental effect on them way beyond their jump test scores.  Seeking out human nature and how the interactions fit together are unlikely to be found in sport – but in performing arts, theatre – wherever creativity can be found along with consequence.

JD: If you could give a brief description of what our attendees can expect from you at The Seminar?

DR: My amazing periodised undulating conjugated training programme doesn’t actually matter.  We don’t really matter as S&C coaches.  Even the word ’S&C’ coach – what does that actually mean in the real world?

What’s truly important, what truly has a fundamental effect on an athlete’s performance is in fact what will affect them as a human being, as well as their ability to process that and our ability as a coach to recognize, nurture and embrace that.  It doesn’t matter what program you have, if the athlete doesn’t turn up to do any of it.

JD: Any closing thoughts Darren?

DR: Sports performance is not about key performance indicators – I have yet to hear anyone offering a commentary on any sports event where they say ‘what amazing ankle stiffness!  Look at the posterior chain strength!’ I do hear words such as ‘heart’, ‘determination’ and ‘what an amazing show’. Things which cannot be graphed.

Metaphorically we train athletes today based on information we found out last week, when we really need to be preparing them for tomorrow. Preparing athletes for competition, to‘ perform‘ in front of a crowd is not just about how effectively the muscles can produce and maintain power, strength and endurance, or how efficiently the cardiovascular system can transport oxygen to the muscles.  It’s putting on a show, rising to the occasion, literally ’performing‘ in front of a crowd with very real consequences to both failure and success, which are also very public.

We see artist has creative people, creating something from the ‘inside‘.  Isn’t this what athletes do in a game changing moment? Aren’t they creative? Isn’t that creativity and emotional expression key to their ‘performance’ in front of an’ audience’?

Anxiety, pressure, unpredictability, consequence, decision-making and simply not knowing what comes next are all elements of competition – does any of thatactually feature in athletes preparation?

Who is Darren Roberts?

Darren was in the RAF Regiment as a Gunner & Military Parachutist from 1989 to 1998, before leaving to pursue a career in strength & conditioning. After a period of time as a private trainer, he began work part time with premiership rugby union and rugby league teams.

In 2002 Darren began to work with Red Bull UK on various high performance projects with its athletes, where he went on to deliver the Red Bull UK High Performance Programme from 2008 until 2013. In January 2014 he joined ‘Harris & Ross’ , a large physiotherapy company based in the north of England. He continues to deliver the high performance & sports medicine services to Red Bull UK and their action sport athletes, as well as many other action sports athletes from around the world – based in large facility near Manchester.

Alongside his work with athletes Darren regularly presents at performance and medical
summits. He has presented on performance and rehabilitation to NASA, Nike, British Association of Sports & Exercise Medicine, European College of Sports & Exercise Medicine, UKSCA, Australian Strength & Conditioning Association and many others. He also writes for various action sports magazines and websites on his work with extreme sports

Grab your seat for this summers MUST ATTEND continuing education event here!

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