In the gym: fourteen-year-old rower, Delaney Troon improves her dead lifts with coaching from Chris Radford. Photos: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Strengthening to reach their peak

May 15, 2021 BY

FROM athlete to coach, Chris Radford is a long-time member of the FedUni WestVic Academy of Sport community.

Originally part of the high-performance program for junior athletes as a young up-and-coming volleyball player, he’s found an avenue to support the next generation.

“While at university, I completed a placement with the WVAS badminton squad, looking after the strength and conditioning for the team,” he said.

Keeping in touch with then-executive officer Rod Ward, an opportunity opened for Mr Radford when he launched Ballarat’s Radford Athletic Development Centre, or RADCentre, as its director and physical performance manager.

“When I started our business, we began doing some contracting work for WVAS, and over the past five years, the relationship has just continued to grow.”

WVAS executive officer Nick Wealands said the Academy sends some of their state and national-level young athletes to the RADCentre to boost their development, and help them reach their peak.

“Strength and conditioning training is integral to supporting our athletes and making sure they can perform at their best,” he said.

“In recent years, strength and conditioning training has become more normalised and the benefits of it on athletic performance and injury prevention are becoming more apparent.

“Sport at the junior elite or semi-elite level is at the stage where if you aren’t doing strength and conditioning training regularly, you are at a serious disadvantage in comparison to your competition, so it’s critical that we introduce this training to athletes and stress the importance of the benefit it has on both performance, injury prevention and even general health.”

Mr Radford simply summarised strength and conditioning training as physical preparation for sport.

“The main focus is around building a strong and resilient athlete that can handle the demands of their sport, and is therefore less likely to get injured,” he said.

“For the junior athletes, we prioritise long-term athletic development through nailing fundamental movement patterns prior to progressing along a competency continuum.

“Our approach ensures that the athlete has the foundations to build upon throughout their entire career, rather than pushing immediate development which may prove detrimental down the track.”

Nailing fundamental movement patterns is a major focus for the young people when they work with Mr Radford, understanding how to create and take force efficiently, but safely.

They learn how to land correctly, brace themselves properly if they’re lifting, and how to properly engage and control their core muscles.

“Once they have a solid foundation established, then they can work on how to jump higher, run faster, swim further,” he said.

“It is fantastic working with younger athletes as you can have a massive impact on their development, and seeing their growth and progression is awesome to be a part of.

“The knowledge we are passing on to them, and the skills they are learning, are going to go with them wherever they go with their sporting careers.”

Mr Wealands said athlete feedback has been “phenomenal.”

“They absolutely relish the opportunity to train under the guidance of Chris and his staff, continuously learning new training techniques, whilst being active.

“There’s a great culture associated with the RADCentre, where athletes work hard but also have fun, interacting with others there to get the most out of the experience,” he said.

“It’s a seriously good operation, full of great people that are extremely passionate about what they do.”