UKSCA Conference Review: 5 Key Takeaways

UKSCA – Saturday 16th January.

Seminars – £95
Hotel £60
Beers £4.50
… Knowledge bombs… Priceless

So although I have done a lot of UKSCA things previously I have to admit that this was my first actually annual seminar due to previous schedules.

I knew it would be a good start when I was checking in and had Dan Baker and Ian Jefferies behind me…

I was only able to go 1 day and decided it would be the Saturday mainly due to wanting to hear the presentation on ACL injuries from Matt Jordan. Think due to the spike of this particular injury within football be a great opportunity to learn from a sport that has a high incidence in ACLs.

The first thing that really struck me about the speakers was that it lacked some professional sport input, this isn’t undermining the speakers but I believe that within strength and conditioning that we can all learn from each other, every sport has its different injuries that are prevalent in different sports and each sport has its own sub culture and constraints dependent on schedule of competition and also access to players, so although the speakers were all fantastic I felt I would have liked some team sports input whether it be Rugby League or Union, Football or Cricket.

I arrived Friday evening and enjoyed catching up with some people I’d only been able to speak with via email or twitter, it became a great environment of people just approaching each other and starting up conversations which is fantastic for our community and as much as sometimes the tool of twitter has driven our community further apart due to some people feel the need to endlessly criticize others when they have no context of why the coach is doing that session, IMHO (which goes for the rest of this review as well) is that I felt more comfortable in the environment having familiar faces or having had previous conversations with people via twitter. So if you do get an opportunity to go to one of this in the future try and get down the night before HUGELY recommended as it gave me and others a chance to really talk shop, finding myself at the bar post mid night talking in depth about the FMS which sounds incredibly geeky but looking round most people were doing similar things with many different topics including a lot of people talking about the state of the industry.

It was clear having seen so many people talk late into the night about all things S&C what a group of really passionate practitioners we have in this country and all open, friendly and keen to swap ideas and discuss there own practices.

Onto the actual presentations

First up was Andy Hudson who works as Head of Performance for GB Hockey. He oversaw performance for both the Men’s and Women’s side and I think the advice he gave post Olympics is that ‘you can do all the right things and still perform badly, but its very hard to perform well if you haven’t done the right things in preparation.’ He also alluded to that S&C isn’t the main event but part of the process.

Over his time there he has clearly set up an incredible structure and gave every one snippets of some of the structures they had in place.

Hockey’s aim was to ensure that physical capabilities didn’t undermine technical abilities of the players they worked with. Which is a mantra I believe we can all take into our practice.

Their first target was ensure team were durable enough to train, then durable enough to play in matches and the demands that are put on them I believe somewhere around 7/8 games in 13 days (please excuse the accuracy) which is no mean feet. The crux of it came down to – what issues were there in physical performance, evaluate, these and then intervene then review in game performance. He spoke about MAS runs and hamstring protocols they had in place but most importantly he mentioned they had clear criteria for each element of physical fitness that was deemed important for hockey. He then spoke about the balance of getting players strong enough to recover (with the stronger and fitter players recovering quicker) without just spending needless time chasing goals that wouldn’t enhance performance with the example being that 1.8 for men 1.7 BW Squat was their target, so no point chasing 2.5 BW squat if the player couldn’t control the ball. He interestingly also spoke about how certain players not being fit enough as the tournament and metrics decreased had created increasing physical demands to team mates around them.

He also mentioned that personality profiling was done on the players and the staff… something I believe could well become the normal within professional sports but I would definitely say is ahead of the curve.

I then joined the breakout that was done by Joffe and Cohen and looked at all the data that British weightlifting used and how they had started from scratch and were able to start predicting what would need to be performed at certain points for athletes to medal. Some really great information however not too much that I could suggest would be implementable within a team sport setting (although I’m sure some that attended this lecture that feel totally the opposite and feel a lot of take home applicable to their departments). Cohen really showed how far breakdown of the CMJ could be taken into 9/10 different segments, which was amazing to see however he did alluded to having so many data points it can take along time to turn around.

The talk on Hypertrophy looked at 3 key areas


The key information hoping that I don’t simply it too much is – Protein ingestion before bed is advantageous. Just Lift – Light weights high volume or heavy weights low volume there seemingly didn’t seem to be too much difference in the findings just that you need to lift! (Won’t argue with that! Lol). Hormones didn’t have a significant effect. Effectively the external factors even if done well would only have limited effect on hypertrophy with Genetics playing the biggest part in the success of hypertrophy.

Finally the talk I’d been waiting for the ACL talk from Matt Jordan, who has some incredible data on pre and post ACL injuries from force plates. With a spike in this injury last season on previous seasons was interesting to get some further knowledge bombs from someone that has forgotten more about ACLs than most of us know.

Determine what Matters

Measure what Matters

Change what Matters

Something we’ve all heard regularly during the spike ‘hell be out for at least 6 months’ this is an injury that although docs and physios have vastly reduced the time out for players I believe 1 or 2 incidents within the NFL where players have returned with in 6 months has put unrealistic expectations on medical staff but more importantly the players expectations are then skewed. I would suggest most players return to play anywhere from 9-12 months as standard.

All the data from Matt’s data shows that there are neuromuscular deficits for up to 24 months post ACL injury and that these asymmetries lead to a higher risk of injury. Think this is a key point for us to make sure that we keep on top of all the good work done during rehab for at least the following 12 months once player has returned to play (Of course ideally this work would be continually ongoing). Nothing related to programming was mentioned although it was the end of a long day so excuse me if I missed it. I have my own thoughts on where I would like to go with some of this information and how to attack some of these asymmetry problems but ill save that for another day.

There have been some interesting stats from the UKSCA collected on level of education experience and also salaries – I have the pictures if anyone is interested in seeing them, although I believe similar ones have been doing the rounds on Twitter as this became a hot topic amongst many.

My major regret was that I wasn’t able to stay on the 2nd night and get to catch up with many of the great coaches that I hadn’t been able to catch up with on Friday night or Saturday. So if you get a chance to go next year if feasible try and go for the whole weekend and make the most of the social side of it, which was as informative as all the formal lectures.

The UKSCA put on a great a great conference at a ideal location with some real top speakers and some very smart attendees. I think my 2 main take home messages would be

Determine what Matters, Measure what Matters, Change what Matters.
Keep focused on post ACL players for at least 24 Months.

Would love to hear others feedback on the weekend……

DISCLAIMER – these were just some of my thoughts and takings from the weekend, as ever sure others will allude to some other key information that was shared over the weekend.

I would like to take the time apologize to the presenters for over simplifying some of the GREAT information presented.

Any further questions don’t hesitate to contact me… always happy to share.