Wednesday 29 January 2020

Have your say

I refer to 'Obsession with weights not such a hip fashion' by Neil Francis [Oct 28] and commend Mr Francis for early in his article clearly indicating his personal disdain and bias against the weight room and his uninterested attitude -- "I wasn't arsed". Some would suggest this attitude also pertained to his time on the pitch as an international player, but that's another story.

Regarding his allegations that the weight room is the cause of the various hip problems and, more specifically, the squat I must in part agree. There is no doubt that the squat as performed in the Provincial set-up has been a contributing factor in the plethora of hip injuries at Leinster in particular. However, I do not agree with his subsequent comparisons and indeed solution -- abandonment of the weight room.

As someone who has coached retired, out-of-contract and even current Leinster players, I believe Mr Francis's suggestions show a complete lack of research. Highlighting in particular the deep squat as a cause of excessive loading and degeneration in the hips, he exposes a lack of understanding of the squat.

Firstly, the Leinster squad have rarely in the last years used the full range of squat as it is assumed (wrongly) to be too slow to recover from for players on a tight training and recovery schedule.

Secondly, the deep squat is in fact a far safer squat than the more used 'box squat'. The box squat allows for far greater loading; an individual who could full range squat 180kg for one repetition could comfortably box squat 240kg plus. Added to this a misunderstanding and misapplication of the box squat (under the misguided guise of preventing spinal loading) so that 'touch and go' box squats are being used -- an infinitely more dangerous and degenerative variant as it takes control out of the movement.

Thirdly, in an environment where S&C coaches' capabilities are measured in the results (weights) posted by their players, the incentive is to hit bigger numbers.

Fourthly, the use of Canadian child hockey players as an example of degenerative injuries and linking them to the weight room is ridiculous. Ice skating is an unnatural movement pattern after all and leads to far greater over-extension of the hips.

This article was written under the guise of a well-researched piece but smacks of ill-informed sensationalism. At no point is it balanced (dare I suggest that?) in its assessment of the cause of the problems that are occurring.

Furthermore, it is never asked how many game day injuries are prevented by the weight room. Perhaps Mr Francis would like to ask any professional player lining out against a modern Southern Hemisphere team and see if they would feel healthier going into it without years of strengthening and conditioning of their bodies. I doubt they would answer, "I couldn't be arsed".

To suggest the squat and weights in general be stripped out of the programme for professional players is frankly asinine. Perhaps we should ask the more pertinent question about why our rugby teams are having problems rather than claiming that weightlifting in and of itself is the problem.

John Lane

Barden snub shows up flawed All Star system

John Greene was right in saying that Paul Barden should have been the All Star choice at No 11 on this year's team [Oct 28].

He listed the reasons why and they all ticked the right boxes. Barden should have become Longford's first All Star. If the All Stars are to truly reflect and recognise individual brilliance throughout the GAA season, then surely Barden was in pole position. When Longford play any of the big guns -- Kerry, Dublin, Tyrone, Mayo, etc -- the man who receives special attention is Paul Barden.

This year saw him reach a level of consistency above even his own standards. An injury-free season has seen him perform and deliver in virtually every game of consequence. Hence the man of the match awards, and the player of the month accolade.

Every player who was selected is a wonderful exponent of Gaelic football but as the out-and-out centre half-forward of 2012, Paul Barden should have been the obvious choice. As a Longfordman, hopefully in 2013 Paul and Longford can make an even more compelling case for recognition.

TJ Ward

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