NESC Forum 2009: Western Bulldogs

The final session of Day One was introduced by Ken Norris. James Fantasia (Director of Football), Rodney Eade (Head Coach) and Bill Davoren (Head, Physical Conditioning) presented The Team Behind a High Performing Sport: A Case Study.

James Fantasia introduced the talk. He shared a video of  a week behind the scenes with the Bulldogs club in Round 15 week v Collingwood (one point loss 110-111). Channel 7 filmed the week’s preparation. James provided some historical background to the Bulldogs (Founded 1877, entered the VFL in 1925). he noted the development of a Learning Centre at the club (a $30 million faciliity). The club has 20 full-time personnel and 55 part-time staff. There are seven key areas (administration, coaching, physical conditioning, development, medical services, recruiting, football operations and logistics).

James presented an organisational plan but acknowledged that the club is a flat line organisation. He noted the importance of the club’s business values. The Bulldogs are a process driven club keen to preserve intellectual property.  The club uses the Leading Teams approach. Bulldogs have adapted this approach. James discussed role clarity at the club and noted that everyone is clear about their responsibilities.

James concluded his talk with some characteristics of the culture at the club:

  • Education priorities
  • Attention paid to the recruitment of staff
  • Standards on and off the field
  • Honest and open communication including peer assessment

Rodney Eade discussed the Coaching Department at the club and explored the environment the club wants to create. There are 45 players and 20 staff. The key functions of the Coaching Department are: game plan; skills; training planning; analysis; game review; match day preparation; season, weekly and daily planning; individual sessions. Rodney discussed four key points:

  • Role of the Head Coach
  • Motivation
  • Openness to knowledge sharing
  • Clarity of goals (and process delivers goals)

Rodney noted the commitment to a continuous improvement environment. Creative thinking is encouraged in high challenge environments. Emphasis is placed on an enjoyable daily training environment. He was very clear about the superordinate importance of the team.

Bill Davron discussed his 12 months of learning in AFL. A year ago he jumped at the opportunity to take up his role at the club.He shared his admiration for the game and the players in it. he gave an example of  Preliminary Final intensity. In this game one athlete ran 19.5kms, 7kms of this at high intensity. The player had 350 efforts and 290 maximum accelerations.

Bill underscored the demand to make hard decisions quickly in AFL and used his own experience of modulating training for 45 players’ loads. What pathway should be developed for each player?  Bill emphasised the importance of links he had developed with Victoria University to develop his approach at the club.

NESC Forum 2009: Michael Flynn and Hamish Jeacocke

Wes Battams introduced Michael Flynn and Hamish Jeacocke to present on Finding the edge: a case study with Triathlon.

Michael discussed his learning journey through observation and experience and introduced his theme of innovation through survival with this video:

Michael drew attention to the lessons that can be learned from:

  • The Australian coat of arms
  • A circle the wagons under attack.
  • Geese flying in formation



Michael’s vision for the edge is fundamental clarity. Like Peter Keen, he wishes to have goals that are a real test for big dreams. He emphasised the need to plan first, attract the best people, identify passionate loyal colleagues and risk takers.

Michael’s talk was interwoven with data presentations by Hamish Jeacocke. Hamish presented results data from 1997 to the present for all three triathlon disciplines and overall race results. Michael explored the implications of these data for technical and tactical developments in triathlon.


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NESC Forum 2009: Morning Session Day 1: Introductions


Peter Fricker, Director of the Australian Institute of Sport, welcomed delegates to the 2009 NESC Forum. There are 250 delegates in attendance at the Forum. Peter noted the importance of collaboration in the ethos of the Forum.

Peter invited the new chair of NESC, Steve Lawrence (Western Australia Institute of Sport), to open the Forum. Steve noted the venue for this year’s Forum and its significance in world sport. Steve recognised NESC members and thanked Wes Battams chair of NESC for the last five years.

Steve affirmed that NESC has been a vigorous focus for debate. He noted that NESC supports national success within state based rivalry. This sports system has tensions and NESC has worked for sixteen years to deliver outcomes for Australian sport. Steve emphasised the importance of the daily training environment in NESC’s work: a coach led multidisciplinary approach to enhancing performance. NESC represents a $90 million investment by the Federal Government and State Governments (this is a $20m greater investment than for the Sydney Games). There are 3100 athletes in the system (a 20% decrease from Sydney) and 490 core business staff (a 20% increase). Coaches make up 45% of this increase in staff. Steve confirmed that NESC invests in support for athletes and reported that 75% of all Olympic athletes came out of the NESC system in last two Olympic cycles. Recently, NESC has developed a national collective agreement and national athlete support agreement.

Steve introduced David Martin to the delegates.

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David presented a talk entitled: Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery.

David pondered whether imitation is the first sign of weakness. Is AIS a copy of Russian and GDR systems? Is it an ethical GDR system?

David suggested that we converge on good ideas rather than copying them. He explored some ideas around convergent evolution.

David discussed early scientists at the AIS. He cited the work of Dick Telford, Allan Hahn, Peter Fricker and Louise Burke. He argued that these scientists are great examples of people prepared to put their skills to a real test.

David’s talk paused to acknowledge the 11 o’clock minute of silence. On recommencing the talk, David spoke movingly about Amy Gillett. He discussed the characteristics of a special institute that welcomes athletes and affirms their life choices in sport. David reflected on the Sydney Olympics and the energy that comes with a home Olympic Games.

David concluded his talk with  a proclamation of confidence and used a video of a recent AIS altitude camp to demonstrate this confidence.