Coach Profile: Nick Grantham
Tell us about yourself
My first job, back in 1998, was as head of sport science for British Gymnastics at Lilleshall Sports Injury and Human Performance Centre. It was the first private, non-university-based provider of sport science support for teams and athletes. I became an accredited Sport Scientist with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, and then gained the National Strength and Conditioning Association certification becoming one of the first coaches in the UK to hold both qualifications.
In 2001, I moved from gymnastics to England Netball to work in one of the first full-time strength and conditioning roles in high-performance UK sport. Two years later, I became one of the first strength and conditioning coaches to work for the English Institute of Sport, leading its West Midlands team across three sites. During this time I was fortunate to travel extensively in support of teams at major championships and on international tours. I had also gained unrivaled access to leading high-performance facilities around the world, including: New Zealand Rugby, England Rugby, Wales Rugby, Manchester City, the US Olympic Training Centre and even the Birmingham Royal Ballet and Cirque du Soleil.
In 2007 I moved on from the English Institute of Sport and established myself as an independent Performance Enhancement Specialist. I worked with the Chinese National Football team, the RFU, Great Britain’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams, Championship and Premiership football teams, professional golfers and Nike. Globally, I’ve worked with athletes from thirty-five different sports who have competed at four Olympics.
In addition to my work with athletes I’ve worked hard to share my insights through a range of outlets including leading publications, conferences, and workshops. I’ve published two books, the latest of which is The Strength and Conditioning Bible: How to Train Like an Athlete and in 2015 I launched The Professional Fitness Coaching Academy, which is a professional development programme for fitness professionals.
What do you see as the biggest challenge in the weight room?
Training with intent - training is pretty easy, lots of people just show up, go through the motions and ‘train’ - the key is to train with intent and make sure every repetition counts. PUSH helps me to make sure we don’t have junk reps in the weight room and we use out time effectively.
Why did you bring PUSH into the weight room?
Objectivity - I needed to put some numbers to our lifting that went above and beyond simply measuring load. I wanted to understand how that load was being moved and demonstrate that the training we were completing was as effective as possible both in the short-term, during the session and more importantly in the long-term, over the course of the season.
Augmented Feedback - sometimes what we do in the weight room can seem a million miles away from what takes place out on the golf course or on the football pitch. The athletes that I work with need to see the link between the weight room and their sporting performance if we are to really get them to train with intent. Is the intent there? The real-time display answers this by giving us access to immediate feedback so that the athletes know exactly how effective each repetition is. This then opens up conversations about movement speed and how that relates directly to performance. The other aspect is that high performance athletes are naturally competitive - setting thresholds and targets brings out the natural competitor and the side effect is maximal training intent!
Adherence - I work with a number of athletes that compete around the world on a variety of international tours and there will be times when they will be away from me for extended periods of time. Training with PUSH allows me to set programmes and then remotely monitor the session. I know if the session has been completed, I know if we hit training targets and for me it’s the next best thing to being in the weight room with them!
Which PUSH features do you find most valuable?
Real-time feedback for me is the deal breaker - when the athlete is able to see rep by rep how they are lifting I just find their performance goes up to the next level. I also find the ability to remotely programme and then monitor progress really useful.
How has PUSH had an impact on your coaching?
Using PUSH has provided a level of objectivity that has sometimes been missing. I’ve used it in a range of environments from one to one injury rehabilitation sessions to provide objective markers for the athlete, squad training sessions with multiple athletes to create a purposeful training environment through to remote tracking of athletes away on tour. If I compare last year’s training sessions with the golfer I currently work with and his most recent training sessions - it’s incredible, the quality of training has improved massively! Now when he’s back working with me between tournaments we know precisely what we need to do, and more importantly if we’ve achieved it.