This is the fifth installment of a series of interviews with industry leaders in fields such as Strength & Conditioning, Coaching, Physical Therapy, Sports Psychology, Nutrition & Physical Education.
This week we hear from one of Australia’s up and coming coaches, ASCA Professional Coach, Tim Mosey. I have known Tim since 2010, meeting him after completing our final practical component of the Masters course at Edith Cowan University. Although I haven’t spent a lot of time with Tim, I am acutely aware of his knowledge, expertise and standing in the Strength & Conditioning community. Tim is unique in the fact that he is a young coach working at the coalface each day; but also continues to develop his research skills, having various papers published in several S&C journals, plus also presenting on these topics at various conferences (‘S&C Challenges of the travelling Skeleton Athlete’).
Although still a young coach, Tim has been influenced and mentored by some of the leading coaches in Australia and overseas, and in doing so he has developed an immense level of experience in the industry across many mainstream and not-so mainstream sports (see published paper below), which have taken him to all parts of the globe; even the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in Russia! Tim is a straight to the point, get your hands dirty type of coach; and who doesn’t love a coach like that??
Enjoy the interview!
Can you share with the readers a little bit of your background (education, sports, previous/current role?
I finished school in 2000 and deferred my first year of university to focus on my sporting career. I was selected in the Queensland and Australian U19 rugby teams in 2001 and 2002 and was offered a Reds College contract which I held until 2004. I was interested in nothing else than sport, sport science and S&C and as such I have completed an undergraduate degree in Applied Science (Human Movement Studies) and a post graduate degree in Exercise Science (S&C). My professional career has enabled me to develop my coaching through roles as a Performance Coach with Stewy Briggs and Acceleration Australia where I learned to coach. I spent two years as an S&C coach with the Tasmanian Institute of Sport where I learned the true meaning of elite athlete (read here rowing) and furthered my coaching development working alongside Pete Culhane. The lure to return to Brisbane was too much and for the past five years I have worked at Brisbane Boys’ College firstly as Strength and Conditioning Coordinator then Director of Athletic Development. I am currently also the assistant strength and conditioning coach for Qld Country in the NRC. I love rugby, and am the assistant coach of the 1st and 2nd XV at BBC. I also coach track and field every year.
As a both a junior and senior you played representative rugby, and then also overseas; how did this influence your interest in the industry and your philosophy to S&C?
I had an outstanding time in my days playing competitive sport. Rugby gave me the opportunity to represent my state and country at underage and senior level. This influenced me no end as it gave me an appreciation that I really wanted to be involved in sport – either playing or coaching. My early experiences certainly were rugby based shortly after school, and a lot of my programming was and still is influenced by my original coaches in rugby and the coaches who worked in the spaces I was in as a player. I remember when Dean Benton was the ARU S&C coach based in Brisbane in about 2001 and I used to watch him coaching in the weight room and on the field and remembering “I want to do that guy’s job.” I also remember as a young 20 year old watching Damien Mednis and Chris Gaviglio working with the Reds and Wallabies players day in day out, and really liking how they went about developing the players – the banter necessary, the way they “encouraged” guys to work hard. I knew early on I wanted to be that type of S&C coach.
Who are some of your major influences in the S&C field?
Can’t go past the influence of Dan Baker. A guy with that much enthusiasm and passion for S&C is hard to ignore. I have enjoyed collaborating with Mike McGuigan on a couple of papers since my post grad days and his influence in the research field has certainly rubbed off on me. To be honest any coach who is willing to share their info tends to appeal to me. I enjoy reading stuff from Stu McMillan and Matt Jordan (who I had the opportunity to catch up with in Calgary). Clever guys looking at performance from another angle than some of the team sport guys. Research by Rhodri Lloyd in Wales and Avery Faigenbaum in the US obviously have a bearing on my programming for school boys. My original S&C coaches when I was a player Tony Wilson, Steve Nance – they had an influence on me in my early twenties. Benton, Mednis. Now I draw inspiration from guys I work with – I share my thoughts now with Will Brown from QAS a lot of the time.
You are a Professional Coach under the Australian Strength & Conditioning Association coaching structure; can you detail how ASCA has been part of your development as a coach?
ASCA has enabled me to connect within the industry on a wider level. Being a level 1 and 2 presenter has enabled me the opportunity to be tested whilst presenting my thoughts and philosophies to aspiring coaches. The continued education development across varying areas has been thorough, and the support they provide coaches in the industry grows each year. By having standards and criteria that are required for the Professional Coaches Structure, enables the industry to recognise those coaches who have the necessary experience, integrity and skill set to coach at a high performance level. S&C as a field and profession has a long road ahead before a standardisation across the field is reached, and indeed recognised in the wider sporting and health industry. ASCA is forging ahead with this challenge – not an easy one – and they continue to lead the country and world with their programs and continuing education standards for coaches.
Your current role is Director of Athletic Development at Brisbane Boys’ College can you detail how you ended up in the role and what the role entails?
I initially began my role at BBC as Strength and Conditioning Coordinator. I inherited a program that had the potential for growth. I spent the first couple of years basically getting the facility up to scratch and creating some general policies and procedures. A change in my direct boss presented the opportunity for my role to be reconsidered and from there I was promoted to the newly formed role, Director of Athletic Development. The new role had wider scope than the previous coordinator role. Whereas the initial role basically coordinated the facility, 2 casual staff members and wrote a few programs for the 1st XV and some general Joe users, the new role incorporated the entire school and the development of an athletic development pathway, which augmented the schools current sporting and PE programs. I now coordinate 2 coaches who work primarily with our Junior School students (prep to year 6) and coordinate the Lead S&C Coach and casual S&C coach in their coaching and programming for our entire sports program from Middle School (7-9) and Senior School (10-12). I program and coach across all sports and ages, with a significant focus of my time spent with our 1st and 2nd XV rugby squads where I am an assistant coach too, and our 1st and 2nd VIII rowing squads.
Using a LTAD focus is often quite foreign in the ever increasing ‘specialisation’ age; can you detail your overall approach to the pathway and how you ‘sell’ the program to the athletes, coaches and parents.
We are continually refining and adapting the program as we go. We aim to give the kids an opportunity of laying a solid movement foundation prior to year 10 when they can start to “lift weights”. So in the lower age groups particularly with the Junior School, we focus on basic bodyweight exercises and trying to just elevate their heart rate and keep them active for the 30 minute timeslot we have each morning. I luckily have a gymnastics facility at my disposal – so we do a lot of work in there. Middle School we teach deadlift, squat, RDL, bench press, and start to gradually load their bodyweight exercises – pull up, split squat, push up. Honestly though I have found that until boys actually start to get hair on their legs and have started to slow down their growth spurt, a lot of single leg work just looks like a giraffe being born – limbs flying everywhere! There is not really a set progression as such – trying to implement a specific “earn the right to progress” approach is honestly futile in our environment. If there is someone out there who has implemented this “theory” practically into a high school with a specific staged progression for more than 500 kids I would love to hear how they did it. At first I started to “sell” the program to parents by saying how this would help their son grow as a man etc etc; to the kids, that it will improve your sporting prowess. Now we just say to the parents that their son is coming to a fitness class to get fit and strong, and to the kids we keep the training sessions as fast paced and GO GO GO as possible in the younger age groups. For the seniors there are milestones with rewards as they go. Coaches were a little different. I focussed on areas and sports where I could get little wins in. Then did an excellent job of delivering what we had on offer. Then the sceptics started to ask questions, which then got them interested, and then I pounced!! For example I noticed variance in opinion of what actually goes on in the weight room. Amongst us three coaches we are in there coaching up to 70 kids at a time. I think many directors and coaches just thought that kids went in there and just did their own thing. When they realise there is a little bit of structure and direction to what is happening they start to get interested.
Can you describe the culture of the College and how Strength & Conditioning/Athletic Development sits within the College framework and curriculum?
The really neat (and frustratingly drawn out) thing about establishing a program like this from scratch is that it takes maybe 3 or 4 years to get up and going, and another 4 or 5 before you start to see the initial “entrants” move through the school years and benefit from an extended time “training”. Trying to shift the schools overall culture has been challenging to say the least. There was not one of “hard graft” toward training or sport when I arrived – and probably hasn’t ever really been one across the wider school – just small pockets here and there. So it has been a slow process over the past 5 years. If we just gauged our improvements based on numbers in attendance alone to specific training sessions then we have made big steps forward. To shift the tides in schools such as these you start at the bottom, and each year add a year level to your attempts. So you might start with year 8 one year. Next year 8 and 9. Following year 8, 9 and 10 and so on. I think if I realised this earlier I would be a little further down the track. You also need support from those above and around you. The program has certainly widened its scope to fit across all sports at some specific squad based level. More work still to be done. In terms of an integration within the curriculum in PE and the wider academic scene, that is the Everest I am faced with over the next five years.
As you are responsible for a range of sports what are the major performance outcomes you are looking to address and improve for these athletes?
I guess the largest focus for me is the schools 1st XV rugby and 1st VIII rowing. These are honestly the “blue chip” sports teams. I also coach the 1st XV. My overall athletic development role is not specifically geared toward any particular sport but some certainly do take up more time than others. The major performance outcomes are certainly centred around strength, power and “fitness” improvements. And creating some level of training resilience so the kids are less likely to get hurt. For our rugby squad, strength is a focus rather than size. I would love to hear from other school strength coaches if they have the magic wand in terms of hypertrophic gains en masse in their footy squads. Our kids certainly get bigger over time – but some lift and lift and lift and don’t seem to grow an inch. Maybe my programming is rubbish? We have a concept called Olympus Man. When I arrived the previous guy had introduced the 350 Club – bench press, squat and deadlift combined to add to 350kg plus. Great concept. I inherited this though a gym where technique was not a focus and loading up the bar beyond limits was the norm. So I tinkered with the concept to incorporate a system where you accumulated points based on your relative strength scores, yo yo test, 10 and 40m speed, and vertical jump height – kind of like a decathlon. So the concept was that you needed a minimum pass mark in all these tests, then needed to accumulate a certain number of points based on your results. This forms the basis of our rugby testing battery, and rowers complete most of these tests in season too. To break it down further, in rugby terms, we identify strengths necessary position to position and focus the students’ efforts in those areas. Our fast guys try and get stronger and faster. Our front rowers try to get fitter and stronger. At the end of the day though, it is a high school – not the NRL.
Can you briefly describe how the Athletic Development programme sits within the school week?
So training bookends the school day – before and after school. The only time during school hours that training occurs, is on exam block and the seniors have some leeway on start times of their morning sessions. Our weight room is open every day before and after school. Senior squad sessions begin at 6:15, finish at 7:45 at the latest. Middle school sessions (year 7-9) run from 7:15 – 8:00am; Junior school from 7:30 – 8:00am. After school we may have senior squad sessions if it fits with on field training for the particular sports – but morning tends to be the most practical times for training. After school tends to be the general Joe users who just want to lift a bit and do some curls and bench.
Moving on to another topic, you have also had the personal experience of being married to an elite athlete who participates in quite a unique sport.
Can you explain how your wife ended up in such an extreme winter Olympic sport? Did she come through a talent transfer programme?
I met my wife back in 2006 and two weeks later she was heading overseas for another winter sport season. She was an entrant in the original AIS TID talent transfer program in 2004 looking to shift fast explosive athletes into skeleton. She went on to be selected for 2006 Torino and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic games teams and has just finished 10 years in the sport, winning World Cup medals and being a regular top 10 ranked athlete along the way. Skeleton is basically luge but face first. From 2007 I began to help her with her strength programming and coaching. It certainly gave me the opportunity to learn about a new sport and how best to go about producing a program geared toward improving performance for the sport. I ended up programming and coaching pretty heavily in the periods leading into Vancouver and Sochi and have published maybe 4 articles along the way in a couple of different journals. Prior to Sochi, we saved some money and I travelled alongside their team for 5 weeks, then travelled to Russia for the games – more as a husband and support, but secondly a coach. We were able to make this work fantastically well. Obviously she had trust in what I was doing for her coaching wise, but as an athlete she did what she had to do to get herself in the best physical shape she could be to compete. It certainly added to my perspectives on what it takes to perform at the truly elite level in sport.
You have previously presented at an ASCA conference using your S&C experiences with winter games athletes; can you describe the major findings of the case study?
In 2014 I presented on the travelling S&C challenges of the winter athlete. I basically tracked over the course of 12 months the strength and power changes in Michelle leading into Sochi. We tried to look at if improving strength, power and speed characteristics could improve her start velocities, and more importantly shift her “push” performance further from the mean of her competitors. Problem was, early on in the program she ended up with some hamstring tendinopathy so we had to be selective on what she was doing speed wise. We ended up comparing start performance to her previous season’s performances. Sled weight was similar from year to year. Thing is, ice conditions change year to year, so what the previous year may have been a snow affected track, the following year may have been freshly spritzed, super cold, fast ice. So it was difficult to really get a handle on whether or not improved start performance was really as a result of her being faster and stronger. But she ended up pushing 3rd best in 3 out of 4 heats of 21 athletes in the Olympic race, which was outstanding. I have published this in the JASC. Become a member of ASCA and have a look (plug:).
In regards to S&C, what are some of the unique demands winter games athletes are faced with?
Biggest one would be facility use when they are travelling. In many cases the competition locations may be very remote – so no decent gyms. And they are in -40c temperatures a lot of the time – no chance to go outside. So anything that resembled a cleverly constructed performance driven program, sometimes needs to be chucked out in favour of some machine leg press and lat pulldowns. For Michelle specifically, we had prior knowledge of her locations and sourced as best we could facilities that were appropriate.
What are some of your current interests in the S&C field?
I like the Gymaware. But it takes setup time and you need a few to use them regularly with large groups in the practical setting. My interests centre around getting guys (and girls) strong, fit and fast. I really like fiddling with Excel to come up with some cool stuff. Youtube John Lythe. He works in NZ with SPRINZ and has a heap of cool stuff up to just follow along! “Sports science” as a concept interests me and how it can apply to improving performance, but to be honest I don’t focus too much on the latest you-beaut gizmos. Give me a stop watch, a field, a barbell and some plates and let’s get to work.
What have you found to be the most bang for buck type of ‘Strength’ or ‘Conditioning’ work for the athletes you work with?
Conditioning to be honest would have to be MAS running at 120 or 130%, 15:15, 2 x 8 – 12. I find these short sessions easy to administer in team sports, and bang for buck seems to be there for me. Big rocks exercises – bench press, bench pull, squat, clean, dead, pull up. I don’t think you will find many of my programs without a severe dosage of these somewhere. Should I mention TA activation too?…
Do you also wear the hat as a Sport Scientist or are you strictly a S&C coach?
My role in a high school doesn’t really allow me the luxury of dabbling into the sport science realm too much. I coach, coach and coach. When I was at the TIS in the SIS/SAS network I was able to spend more time collaborating with our sports science guys – I really miss that side of the profession in what I currently do. It is a big area of interest for me.
Being a younger coach in the industry, where would you ultimately like to end up?
I want to be a really good coach. I was having a discussion with a mate about this the other day and he suggested he didn’t want to get to a role where he could have his pants pulled down because he wasn’t ready. I really thought this was a good thought, and I certainly have a lot of experiences to go through before ending up leading a program somewhere – which I would really like to do down the track. I have enjoyed managing a small number of people in my current role, and think I would like the challenge of this in a high performance environment later down the track. At the moment I am relishing coaching rugby. I think that my S&C background and understanding would come in handy if I moved more seriously into rugby coaching. Kind of the other way around – an S&C coach moving into technical coaching (find me one of those!), rather than the technical coach or professional player moving into S&C (plenty of these…)
Just before we finish up, I know you are an avid rugby supporter, who is your ultimate League and Union player and why?
None really. So many guys have different attributes, which make them remarkably better than their opposition. Guys with work ethic, who just keep at it day after day get my respect.
Thanks to Tim for being one of the initial Strength & Conditioning Coach contributors to the College Strength & Conditioning Blog. You can follow Tim on the handles below.