Alex Reid: The new approach to match official fitness   - Ruck

Alex Reid: The new approach to match official fitness  

The world class match official fitness series 

Along with our partners at ACME Whistles we spoke to the RFU’s Match Official Strength & Conditioning Coach, Alex Reid, whose career has taken her from Harrods to Spurs to the RFU. Alex is passionate about high-performance sport. 

In the fourth part of this series of interviews, Alex tells us about her journey, and what she has seen changing throughout. 

When I first started in 2009, we’d go into the gym and the group would wander off and be all over the place: training as a team or squad wasn’t something they were familiar with.  

“So rather than huddling together as a group or being together, you say ‘right, guys, let’s go, the session starts at 10’ – but someone will be over there, someone’s on their phone, someone’s gone to the loo… it was like herding cats to start with and there wasn’t a team culture. 

“Now they’re in the same kit; they’re on time, they’re ready to train; they’ve done their pre prep. If they need to do anything before, treatments or any preparation prior to training, then they’ve done it, they’re ready.  

“So they’ve changed their behaviours, their culture, to be a team.  

“My coaching philosophy is to make the games easy. So I work them hard when they’re with me so that when they turn up on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday for a game, the game is easy.  

“If it’s physically easy for them in a game, they can make the technical decisions based upon the fact that they can cope physically.  

“So when they start to recognise that this works, even though I’m really making them work hard when were together, they buy into the plan.   We also have lots of fun, work hard, play hard. 

“We have a bit of banter. I wanted to create that atmosphere and culture of working hard, but also having a giggle, like it had been for me in football. 

“I want them to enjoy training and feel that it adds value.  

“I don’t see them very often. But I want it to be quality time, physically worthwhile but also creating a culture and positive team behaviours. We might play ultimate frisbee, beach volleyball, or touch rugby, or run high intensity intervals, but it’s fun, it’s hard work and again it’s bringing that cohesion to the team. 

“The group now do everything together. They work hard and push each other.  

“They do fitness tests together, they spot each other. We now have a culture of bringing people together as a unit where they are happy to work hard.  

“That’s also where someone like Karl, who has played at the highest level, is great for the team as he knows from his playing days what it’s like and he demands the best.  

“Other figureheads like Barnsey, who also demand the best, mean that the younger ones in the group then think, oh, this is normal, that they need to be on time, that they need to really work hard. It creates a culture that we need at the highest level.  

“We can have a bit of fun, but when it’s time to knuckle down, we do it. I think it’s about having the right people in place.” 

In the next feature of the series, Alex talks about the changes in match official fitness over the last 15 years 

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