Playing the pain game

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 12 Januari 2013 | 14.43

Back to work: Richmond Tigers player Daniel Jackson and Melbourne Vixens netballer Bianca Chatfield hit the pavement after the Christmas break. Source: Herald Sun

IN the age of the professional athlete, Richmond's Daniel Jackson and Melbourne Vixens' Bianca Chatfield compare a combined 25 pre-seasons at the coalface of their respective codes. Eliza Sewell reports.

Eliza Sewell: Now, you've both done a few pre-seasons, how many in fact?

Daniel Jackson: Ten.

Bianca Chatfield: I think this is my 15th.

ES: Oh, goodness.

DJ: That hurts.

BC: And I'm still going.

DJ: It hurts the mind more than the body.

BC: I often enjoy pre-season. During the season I get sick of being on court all the time and it all being just about netball. During pre-season you have a little bit of everything. It's kind of nice to mix it up.

ES: What's a story from a pre-season that sticks in your mind?

DJ: A few years ago they told us a training camp was going to be fairly relaxed, that we could bring tennis racquets and golf clubs. We met on Monday morning, I think at 5.30am, to start this camp, I think I even brought a book to read while I was away. We were standing in the gym waiting and these special operations group police officers walked in, starting ranting and raving. We all just looked at each other. We knew exactly what we were in for, four days of brutal activity. No sleep, no food.

ES: They fooled you.

BC: We went on one where we couldn't eat or sleep for 48 hours. Or they'd give you little bits of food, but you had to stay awake the whole time. I hated life. It made us stronger as a team, though, because we hated all the staff that were on it. As a team we were like, 'We're not going to let them beat us, we're not going to show that we care'.

ES: Sometimes do you think it's more mental training than physical?

DJ: It's certainly a combination.

BC: They're on par. We've done one where they took us down the Mornington Peninsula and we went to a day spa and did things like that. We thought that was heaven but we didn't do very well that year (laughing).

ES: So how much time do you get off after your season?

BC: We have to have eight weeks off, but I probably spent two, even only a week, doing nothing and the rest of it you start building up again. I also had (foot) surgery during that time.

ES: So you have a break, but you don't really.

DJ: It's getting harder and harder. I had eight weeks. But it's the same thing (as Bianca). We're given a full training program. I think we got 10 to 14 days of no training after the end of the season and then it's a five-day-a-week program. We've got apps that tell us what training we have to do, we've got GPS watches that measure all of our running. You just can't come back unfit any more.

BC: That's probably the biggest battle for our sports is that they tell you to go away and have a break, but you can't possibly. So mentally you don't get to fully escape.

ES: What do you dread the most about pre-season?

DJ: The long days. It's so hard to have a balanced life when at the end of a long training day you've got no energy to do anything else.

ES: So how long would your day generally be?

DJ: This morning I was at the club at 7.20am. I should have finished at 4pm, but they wrapped me up at 3pm. So it tends to be 7.30am-4pm. People will say, 'Oh that's not too hard, I work till 6.30pm'. But they go home and they've still got energy. We get home and we sit on the couch.

BC: For me, it is (that) you know once you come back in January, if you're successful in making the Aussie team as well, you won't finish until November. You've got to look after your body to make sure you get through all that way, but also it's the mental pressures of getting selected and then gearing yourself up to make the Aussie team. You're never really 100 per cent secure in your position, which you shouldn't be, either. But that's always the tough challenge.

Bianca Chatfield

Age: 30 Height: 189cm

Professional netballer - Vixens, Australia

ANZ Championship average wage: $21,000

Education: Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Movement) and Bachelor of Education

Other interests: Runs leadership consultancy Pivot Performance with teammate Sharelle McMahon, Australian Netball Players Association delegate

Pre-season workload: Monday-Saturday, Sunday off
3 weights, 3 on-court, 2-3 conditioning (running/bike/cardio), 1-2 rehab (pilates), 1 massage

Season starts: March 25 (14 games plus finals)

ES: What do you love about pre-season?

BC: You miss your teammates over Christmas, and really I just love getting back and hanging out with everybody.

DJ: That's a good point. I like the bonding, you spend so much time together, it's like being at school together. It's nearly a little bit sadistic, but I quite like the hard work.

ES: Is there an activity that you're really good at or that you like?

DJ: The guys would hate me to say it, but they already know it, I actually enjoy running. Everyone hates running, they just want to play footy. I don't mind a tough running session.

BC: Um ...

ES: You can say 'nothing'.

BC: Yeah, I don't really know what I love so much about it.

DJ: Massage?

BC: Yeah, the massage at the end of the day.

DJ: I kill the massage, I'm good at that.

ES: Of your teammates, who lags? Or is there someone who tries to avoid a certain activity?

DJ: Jake King cannot swim. If you threw him in the pool, he would drown. We would swim 50m before he's even finished 25m, probably 100m. He pretty much dog paddles.

BC: Karyn Howarth - this is her second year at the club, it's fair to say she hates the running sessions.

ES: And who powers through? Who irks you with their enthusiasm?

BC: Maddie Brown, she's good at everything, it kind of makes you sick. She swam the Pier to Pub, she's good at running, she's an all-round powerhouse.

DJ: It's probably Alex Rance. He's a good sprinter, he's now really good at endurance running, he's a good swimmer. He can't box, but otherwise he smashes everything.

ES: What's changed this pre-season?

BC: We've got a new coach (Simone McKinnis). She's right into being on court early and building in fitness and skills together. Normally we would be doing our running and fitness and build up to being on court, but we've been on court straight away.

DJ: Over the last few years it's become a lot more footy-orientated, which probably sounds obvious. A lot of the fitness is incorporated into drills. There's a lot more match play rather than just running the Tan. You still have to run the Tan, but just not as often.

BC: Who does it the quickest?

DJ: We've gone to Princes Park now, but I have the Tan record. I told you, I like running.

ES and BC: What do you do it in?

DJ: 12.36. I couldn't do that at the moment. Now we just do 2km time-trials at Princes Park.

ES: Why did they change?

DJ: The 3.8km (Tan distance) is unrealistic for our game now, we never really run for that distance (in a game). Even 2km is a little bit irrelevant, except that it's a good gauge of where guys are at.

BC: When I first started, we would do lots of long-distance running and it's just pointless. Our court is 30m long and we need to be powerful and quick.

DJ: What testing do you do?

BC: We've been doing the Vo2 max test on the treadmill.

DJ: I don't mind that.

Daniel Jackson

Age: 26 Height: 188cm

Professional footballer - Richmond

AFL average wage for senior player: $260,000

Education: Bachelor of Commerce

Other interests: AFL Players Association board member, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Australia board member, Headspace ambassador, presenter for Step Back Think

Pre-season workload: Monday-Saturday, Sunday off
3 main football sessions,  4-5 weights, 3 skills, 4 running, 2-3 cross training (swim/bike/boxing), 2 yoga/pilates, 2-3 massage

Season starts: March 28 (22 games plus finals)

ES: What is it?

DJ: You're on a treadmill with a snorkel in your mouth and you run until you can't run any more. They keep speeding it up, and eventually when it's at a speed where you can't go any faster, they start raising the gradient until you're knackered.

ES: So how long would you last on that?

DJ: People who struggle, 10 minutes. I think the longest we had was 14 minutes.

BC: And they take your blood lactate every minute, they'll prick your finger and take the blood out.

ES: So you're animals?

BC: Yeah, you are. Sometimes you do feel like that. You get your skinfolds done, everyone's poking and prodding you.

DJ: That's the scary part, the skinfolds. We just had two weeks off and everyone tiptoes around the dietitian because we have measures we have to meet, and if you've been having too many non-green tea related drinks ...

BC: ... you're in the fat club.

DJ: Exactly.

ES: So how often do you get them checked?

BC: We're monthly.

DJ: About every fortnight.

ES: What is your personal motto for this season?

DJ: Train smart. When you're younger, you need to push the boundaries because that's the only way you're going to catch up to all the established players, just to do more, and if you get injured, you wear it. When you get older, it's more about getting yourself right to perform.

BC: I would definitely say train smart, too. But also just to love it. You don't know how much longer you can play for, and I just really want to take in every moment that I've still got playing.

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