My name is Gary Rafferty, I’m a fitness coach from Sydney (originally from Glasgow) with 20 years coaching experience in football all across the world.

I’ve been working and studying as a coach in both the technical and physical side of the game since 2004 working with clubs, academies, schools and individual players from youth to pro worldwide.

Throughout my time in the field I have fortunate enough to be individually mentored by experienced coaches working at the elite level of sport in fitness, health and high performance.

In addition, I have been a speaker and presenter on topics such as Injury Prevention in Football, How to Combine Tactical & Physical Training, Long Term Athletic Development, Training Load Monitoring and Football Periodisation at Sports Industry Conferences and Football Coach Education Events.

As well as running Football Fitness AU, I am currently Head of Performance at Australian National Premier League side NWS Spirit FC, Co-Host of the Champagne Football Show and also a Mental Health Podcast (TheseLadsAreMental).

The Football Fitness AU Story

I grew up in the 90’s where we just completely winged what to do when it came to the physical side of the game.

A lot of what we did can be excused because we just didn’t have the information available to us to know what to do.

Now, any information you like can be accessed with a click of a button.

There are literally 100’s of training drills, tips, and advice fired at us daily on social media.

You can learn everything about anything online.

BUT…..many of the ‘problems’ from 20-30 years ago are still happening today.

I’ve played in squads at the semi-pro, collegiate, amateur and Sunday league level.

Most players at these levels want to be playing at the highest level they can, feel match fit, stay available to play but also they want to look good too.

That comes with a lot of mental dilemmas of what training or nutrition program you should be following or trying to work out how to get both the athletic and aesthetic benefits without increasing injury risk or decreasing performance,

Trying to achieve top match fitness levels whilst balancing work, uni, personal life stress etc is difficult.

A lot more difficult than it is for a pro level player who is paid to do it, with professional fitness coaches around them every day and no other commitments that will eat into their recovery time.

Most of the things on social media and the google results are not applicable to football fitness or to a part time player that has to get up at 6am every day for work and doesn’t get home til 10pm from night time training.

When we dig into finding a program for ourselves it quickly becomes a frustrating minefield of contradictory information overload.

The programs we end up with often start well but end up leaving us feeling heavy, sore and tired on game day and with plenty of hard work but very little progress.

I know this because I’ve been there, I’ve wasted so much time and energy going down rabbit holes, feeling like I am training hard and nothing is happening or that I have paralysis by analysis because I’m so confused about what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve trained with too much volume in the gym close to game day, I’ve been forced to do Crossfit sessions with a squad throughout a whole season, I’ve jumped straight into intense running session after 8 weeks out and of course none of this came without picking up the annoying niggles that prevent you going at 100% on the pitch.

Whilst I trained 2-3x per week with my team, I’d be getting side tracked with running drill that I’d see online or go a random run with no plan, and of course I’d go through plenty of phases of thinking about aesthetics…especially close to summer.

This would almost always lead me to going to the gym to do a bodybuilding or glorified HIIT program, which was getting me ‘fit’ but it was very generic and actually taking me away from the goal of being ‘football fit'.

After, literally years of much trial and error, I finally found what worked to keep me able to play 90 minutes of football, week in, week out (pain free) staying lean, strong and feeling good whilst still being able to comfortably work, study and not miss out on anything in my social life.

My mindset shifted away from trying to get ‘FIT’ to ‘I’m a footballer’ I need to get 'FOOTBALL FIT’.

Whilst I wasn’t a ‘Footballer’ by the professional term, I had played my whole life and whenever I thought of when I was the best shape physically and mentally, it was when I was fully match fit, training regularly and playing week in, week out.

So, whenever I had the question of what to eat, when to recover, what gym plan to do, what running and how much of it to do, I would just revert back to asking 'what will have me closer to being match fit and ready for a game’.

I stripped my training right back and focused solely on making sure I went to all the squad sessions, I went to the gym about half as much as I used to and only on particular days around my playing schedule and if I didn’t play at the weekend or lost minutes I’d top up my fitness to make sure I stayed match fit.

It worked out 2-3 hours of extra training per week + my team training and game.

Going down this route made training far simpler and the results were quicker than I thought.

Not only was I fresher and fitter on the football pitch, I was also healthy, energetic, lean, pain free, still hitting PB’s in the gym and was enjoying every minute of training.

From an aesthetics standpoint I ended up building a fair bit of lead muscle and managed to put on close to 10kg of bodyweight training and eating this way over the course of 2 years whilst still improving my match fitness.

As I started working with more and more players I began using the same methods and principles regardless of the playing level they were at. It worked every time.

Players found it much easier and more enjoyable to stay consistent with their training and nutrition when they knew it was for football.

Whilst they started feeling fresher, fitter, stronger and quicker on the pitch. Many of them shifted their unwanted body fat and packed on solid lean muscle.

Their success led to more players reaching out and over a number of years it had grew from a few players to over 1000 players worldwide, all using this same approach of preparing for the game you love to play.

2020 is when I then decided to set up Football Fitness AU as a way to make professional football strength & condiImagetioning more accessible to players helping them to perform their best both on and off the pitch, year in, year out!

Office: Sydney, Australia

Email: gary@footballfitness.com.au

Site: www.footballfitness.com.au

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