After missing most of the 2016 season, Nat Fyfe is desperate to get back to his best. The Dockers captain spoke to Inside Sport about overcoming injuries and the challenges of this season.
It was anything but an extended holiday for Nat Fyfe as he recovered from a second broken leg during most of last year.
"Once I was ruled out for the season, I started to think creatively as to how I was going to get through a long rehab stint," Fyfe said. "From discussions with Jason Weber, our high-performance and strength and conditioning coach, we decided that my eight-week, off-season period needed to be utilised."
Plan A saw Fyfe spend two weeks in Perth, working intensely on his speed and strength, as well as testing the injured leg with repeated jumping and landing exercises. Plan B, however, highlighted the stop-at-nothing approach that Fyfe applies. Fyfe, along with teammate Alex Pearce (also returning from a broken leg), spent two weeks training in Los Angeles and observing how elite athletes from other sports go about their work.
"The expectation from the trip was to see where I sit on an international scale," Fyfe said, "and MMA athletes to see how we stacked up. I trained with a player from the Anaheim Ducks, plus a linebacker who spent 12 years at five different NFL clubs. We also worked with their strength and conditioning coaches."
Renting a home in the Hollywood Hills, Fyfe and Pearce would train overlooking swanky Beverly Hills in the morning, cook their own meals during the day, spend time in ice baths set up inside their rented property, and every few days a masseuse would drop by to further aid their recoveries. "It was a high-performance training camp," Fyfe explained. "Then, in the afternoons, we would go to a gym for our weightlifting component.
"I took a footy into the gym with me, and the people had no idea who we were, or what we were about. Once they watched us lifting and training, they started to get a gauge of the sort of athletes we were, and they were then a lot more open to rubbing shoulders with us.
"The ice hockey guys' repeat efforts are 45 seconds, max, so they are training for a really specific set of rotations. Whereas, the NFL guys worked on six or seven seconds of explosive speed, then they could sit down for five or six minutes. But our sport is roughly eight minutes AFAf continuous aerobic effort, mixed in with some high-intensity, anaerobic work. Once they saw what we were doing, they began picking our brains on different things.
"A lot of the things that I saw, and that I learnt, really consolidated the high level of preparation that we experience over here and the elite-level coaching that Jason and his team offer to us at Fremantle."