Me and My Athletes!
I have been coaching all my life and it has been the most amazing journey anyone could have imagined. When I look back at my life, which has often felt like a Magical Mystery Tour, I have been places, coached athletes, met so many wonderful and amazing people, I have, and am still, living the dream.
When I left Manchester United in 2011, I had a direction, a plan. My focus was to expand what I saw as the future of athletic training by enhancing the use of cognition in sport, though, at the time, I had no idea where it would lead me. My website then was a bringing together of what I had done with myself, my family, my career then and what I saw was going on from then.
Now, after four years, it is time for an update. My history has given me an insight in to top professional sports people. This focus of this site now has moved on, it is about why i think i have something to offer athletes and coaches. The messages from myself in this website will now be mainly focused on Power Development, Brain Cognition, Visual Awareness and Consciousness during top flight athleticism in the heat of the Battle.
The most important lessons I have learned in my career are, before all else, you must give your clients trust and discretion. Some are open to who they train with, where and why. Others like to keep their training, their lives, a lot more private. Training full time professional athletes is a complicated past time as their commitments to what clubs or associations need, to fulfil contracts, but also making sure they are fully fit mentally and physically, brings all sorts of issues to the surface.
I have, and I still coach many athletes from many different sporting backgrounds, but there are some who are more than just clients. These are the ones you will see featured here, and for many different reasons. I think that this section will expand the most as I will also add any I think will be the next "new star". He or she will be added to the list so that audiences can see in which way they and my Lab are developing.
The Athletes - An Introduction.
Aaron Cook- Taekwondo
Aaron has been a fantastic help to create training possibilities for himself and others in my Lab.
In 2010, while at Manchester United, Muscle and Fitness UK, as part of their S&C Coaches season, went to north to talk to my son Mike who is the Coach with Sunderland Football club. It was during that interview the magazine found out about the Clegg family and decided to visit us at my Olympic Sports Gym. This resulted in a series of articles featuring myself and my kids in our sporting roles being published in 2011. When the first article feature me and my family came out, it so happened that the same issue featured an up and coming sporting star, Taekwondo's Aaron Cook.
As I was reading his story, it turned out that Aaron was in fact reading mine! He had recently split from the training system he was currently using and was looking for a new coach. Aaron got in touch and that was the start of a fantastic relationship with a remarkable young man. Aaron has drive and determination you do not often see, and it is this that grit and resolve Aaron has to be the best in his sport that helped me decide this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to work with people who want to be the best, who will try new ideas, step out of the box and do whatever it takes to be the best.
Kyle Howarth - Speedway
Kyle, who is a law unto himself, is a joy to create atmosphere and intensity during his training sessions. I have known Kyle and his family since he was a child, his father was my car mechanic, his mother my hairdresser, even his sister did some work for me at the gym. Kyle and his brother John used to train regularly at OSG. Kyle has never failed to inspire with his ambition and determination to be the best and the fastest! Even with his dedication, he is still a wild card, often deciding at last minute to just go and do something different, and usually it is also totally unplanned.
When he became serious in the sport, he needed to be not only super-fit but he also wanted to improve his concentration, speed, reaction, as well as keep calm under pressure. Being a speedway rider, his agility and peripheral vision is of absolute importance to his sport so we devised a specialised training routine which he is very enthusiastic about, especially trying to keep his high scores on the D2 and fitLight. (Rivalry is something that he and Aaron seem to enjoy)
Mike Eade - Kickboxer
Mike was a guy on a mission. He was determined to win the WKE Championship!
I first met Mike on a school trip he had arranged. Mike is a teacher in a local school, and had gotten in touch to see if he could bring a class to visit the gym which I always encourage. While at the gym, listening to me explain about the equipment, Mike realised that the tech in my gym he had a very good chance of being able to benefit from himself. He arranged a session to try it out for size and was taken with the training plan I put in place for him. Mike, who specialised in Chinese Kickboxing, had been chasing the Championship title for eight years , finally felt he had the edge to take the title on the ninth, attempt, which of course he did!
Not long after, Mike retired from Kickboxing and was happy to continue running his kickboxing club in the Manchester area. Recently though Mike has got the fighters edge back and began training again. Recently he has also started coaching Aaron with me, as well as sparing and training alongside him. Mike and Aaron have very lively boxing sessions, both experts in the use of hands and feet, it is a very good workout for each other and they have formed a very close relationship through working and training together.
Mick on Mike - "Mike is now helping me train Aaron with some coaching , whilst he jumps between fighter and coach, the lad definitely can't make his mind up!"
Mike on Mick - "Mick is a fantastic trainer. No-one I have trained with has managed to tread the line between innovation, technology and old-school training so well. His vast knowledge of the mind and body mean he is able to extract the very best performance from every athlete. I cannot recommend him highly enough."
Training the Trio
Imagine the session - Aaron Cook (Taekwondo), Kyle Howarth (Speedway) and Mike Eade (Chinese Kickboxing) all training together! This is a fantastic way to train, put the best of one sport up with the best of another. The disciplines of each are totally different but they all want the same thing, speed, reaction, peripheral vision, visual field, culminating in being the fastest, being the best!
There is huge rivalry between them especially with Aaron and Kyle on the D2 and the fitlight. These two are the best out of the athletes I train, they are the fastest with the most consistently top scores.
Do all three train the same? No! Aaron and Mike box, they are both physical sports using their feet and hands so boxing time for them is weights or strength training for Kyle. As Kyle is a speedway rider, boxing is dangerous for him, his hand need to be in perfect shape for riding the bike at the high speeds in competitions.
Tailor the training to the needs of the athletes.
Tom Martin - Deadlift
Tom has been a long time member of the Olympic Sports Gym, his talent for lifting showing early. As well as training, he also started to learn the art of coaching at the gym alongside my kids which benefited him with extra time to train for himself. When my fitlight centre opened, Tom moved over to the centre to help set up the weight lifting area as there was going to a lifting club. As I began training in the the centre, sessions overlapped, plans developed, it was decided the lifting club would stay in OSG. Tom, on the other hand found that he enjoyed the fitlight centre and he decided to stay on as a Personal Trainer, coaching his own clients.
Tom on Mick - "I had been training for some time at the family gym when I got to know Mick, 4 or 5 years ago, under unfortunate circumstances - as an injured athlete, showing no signs of recovery and close to giving up on the idea of returning to a competitive platform.
Mick was very willing to help, offering his experience with rehabilitation and encouraging me to take part in some mobility sessions with him - a much neglected aspect of my own training. With some time and consistent effort, improvements were made and I eventually returned to my sport and improved upon my pre-injury world record beating performances.
To this day I continue to place a huge importance on the mobility work Mick introduced me to, making it a vital feature in every training session and using this knowledge to help those who I coach. I now do the bulk of my training in Mick's new facility, where we often chat and exchange ideas, always willing to learn something new!"
Matt Gilks - Goalkeeper
In November 2010 Matt had suffered a serious knee injury. During a 0-0 match against West Ham, Blackpool goalkeeper Matt, who had started in every Premier League game so far that season, hobbled off at half time with what was initially though was not serious. It turned out he had broken his patella and would be out for 6-8 weeks.
Even though the injury healed, Matt struggled to get back to a fitness level needed to make it back into the first team. Matt's agent decided to get in touch with my son Mike, who he knew from Manchester United and talked to him about Matt's problem. Mike told him to get Matt to visit me and see what I could suggest.
Even though I was still working at Manchester United at the time, I also continued my own coaching at my own gym. Matt came in to see me and he was in pretty bad shape. It became the start of a three year coaching partnership which saw Matt, among others working on improving, not only his fitness but his reactions, speed and agility.