Notes From: Football Medical Association (FMA) Conference 2017

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Notes From: Football Medical Association (FMA) Conference 2017

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Hard to Break: Building Resilience in Modern Day Athletes

FMA Conference Programme in full here.

Conference and awards pictures here.


Session 1 - Five steps to a winning mindset.

Key Note Presentation: Damian Hughes @LiquidThinker


The brilliant Damian Hughes opened proceedings showcasing his five steps to a winning mindset. He began by scrambling many of our brains with a few simple tasks, one of which was simply asking the audience to draw a coffee cup. Almost every person within the room drew the same coffee cup you are now thinking of … side on with the handle and maybe a few heat lines. Why did we draw it this way? Why not draw it underneath or from above? He used this, and many other examples to promote a sense of perspective – taking this into your workplace especially critical, here is his five step process to a winning



Simple (Clear message)

Tripwire (Prompt action/reaction)

Emotional (Person then process)

Practical (Help them understand)

Stories (Get attention)


Session 2 - Building resilience in modern-day athletes, a strength and conditioning and rehabilitation perspective.

Building resilience through applied strength and conditioning: Ben Rosenblatt @ben_rosenblatt

Building resilience in the rehabilitation process: John Kiely @simplysportsci


Ben Rosenblatt discussed resiliency through applied strength and conditioning by highlighting some ‘fact of the matter’ issues within the practical setting. Where are they physically and what are they required to do physically - improving athletes will mean a shift in training load either up or down, making sure they are physically prepared for and exposed to the tasks they will have to complete is most important. John Kiely discussed a multitude of topics surrounding the rehabilitation process and the inaugural ‘re-education’ of the sensory feedback mechanism, personal to each rehabilitation process. He highlighted three key criteria to neural restructuring, task specific challenge, sustained attention for a successful outcome and a high risk of error – drive neural re-adaptation.


Session 3 - Building resilience in modern-day athletes, a multidisciplinary approach.

A medical perspective: Mark Gillett @wbamarkgillett

A psychiatrist’s perspective, growth mindset and building resilience: Jag Basra

A sport science perspective: Carl Wells @CWsportscience


Mark Gillett opened session 3 by giving an insight into the practices currently employed by the West Bromwich Albion medical team, particularly apt after the fantastic season they have had from a medical perspective. Key themes were gaining perspective on resilience and what that means to the WBA team, also the importance of identifying roles within a team to create collective adaptation. Jag Basra then went on to discuss resilience within her area of psychiatry – focussing intently on the mantra of ‘growth mindset’, individual’s unbridled pursuit of excellence through application and dedication to the task, taking consistent influence from those around them. Carl Wells discussed the abilities of force profiling to identify prescribed stages of the rehabilitation process. As the requirements of professional football increases exponentially the need to analyse more accurately and appropriately throughout the rehabilitation and pass out process becomes critical to instilling the required resiliency post injury.


Session 4 – From Data to Performance – Is it working?

The future of data and performance: Michael Clarkson @mbclarkson23

Are we creating a soft generation: Robin Thorpe @robbyt05

The future in football: Ben Marlow @BRGmarlow


Session four was kicked off by Michael Clarkson from Catapult Sports discussing developments in the world of sports technology. He made some critical points surrounding its application and the need to make data applicable and actionable upon collection, all of which needs to start with the performance question needing answering. Robin Thorpe then discussed some of the great work being done at Manchester United in recovery and regeneration. Off the back of an array of successful research he explained how within their team environment practicality is of the utmost importance. The use of ‘wellness’ questionnaire’s serve a purpose acting as a gateway at the club - opening the doors for more insightful conversations inducing further information surrounding the dose-response effects in individuals. Ben Marlow closed proceedings with a discussion around predictive and trends within football at all levels. How big data can positively impact decision making in each facet of a football club to become as efficient as possible, especially within the recruitment process at board level.


Session 5 – Physical Preparation & Skill Development, The Gymnastics Way

Keynote Presentation: Nick Ruddock @NickRuddock


Nick Ruddock opened day two of the conference delving into the athletic development within gymnastics. He began discussing the early developmental years through the (chronological) ages of 5,6,7 and the trade-off between technical and physical components, developing on how this can be manipulated alongside (biological) maturation status, which component is stopping them being able to perform to their full potential. He then went onto discuss skill acquisition and the quality assurance that must be asserted with each rep at a young age – accepting ‘OK’ at a young age can become energy sapping in latter years if problem needs fixing, get it right early before time draining interceptions are required.


Session 6 – A Professional in Conversation with the FA’s Performance and Medical Education Team (Panel)

Justyn Price, Lead; Joce Brooks, Psychology; Lisa Hodgson, Medical; Matt Portas, Physical Performance; Shall Hall, Performance Analysis; David Court, Talent ID


Mark Kearney, Derby County’s head of Coaching joined members of the FA’s performance education for a discussion surrounding modern day performance support from a coach’s point of view. Discussing the importance of shared decision making and integrating each component of a programme as efficiently as possible, Mark consistently referenced the importance of ‘growth mindset’ that so many at the conference has already drawn reference too – requiring hard work along with well thought out strategies with input from others.


Session 7 – Future Physiotherapists, Doctors, Science Practitioners and Sports Therapists in Football. What should their profile be?

A Physiotherapist Perspective: Chris Moseley @TheMoseman

A Doctor’s Perspective: Craig Roberts @sportsmedoc

A Sport Science Perspective: Richard Evans @PhysEvs

A Sports Therapist Perspective: Ben Thompson @motion4sport


The final session of the conference brought together a collection of backroom staff presenting an array of case studies, experiences and suggestions moving forward in industry. Discussions into role clarification, potential impact from certain roles and prospective outlays for the latest crop of practitioners was addressed. What does the practitioner of the future look like and what should or could their background be, each with their unique view and position on the matter.


Hamish Munro (@HamishMunro90)


You can follow the FMA on Twitter (@FMA_latest)


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