This off-season will see many members of the Rabbitohs performance team take part in professional development abroad with Head of High Performance Paul Devlin getting ready for his trip to the U.S.
Devlin’s role at the Club is to manage the performance department that in his own words ‘encompasses a whole range of things’.
“My role is mainly to manage the performance department,” Delvin explained.
“So that encompasses really making sure we’ve got the resources available for the staff and we’ve got the right programs in place for strength, speed, conditioning levels, load monitoring. It encompasses a whole range of things really, planning, preparation, scheduling, lots of different things.”
As the 2017 season comes to an end, preparations for preseason has already commenced and will continue before the staff get a break and take some time off.
“A lot of planning for preseason, we are going through that period at the minute with the staff and then trying to send the staff off on their holidays.
“A lot of us are combining holidays with professional development trips so I’m taking the family over to L.A. and San Francisco where I will do some professional development and then get a little holiday time in as well and then head over to Mexico for a wedding actually.”
Although describing the trip as a holiday, Delvin will be working hard at expanding his knowledge through visiting teams and committees including the Oakland Raiders and U.S. Olympic Committee. Although this is not a new strategy for Devlin who has not only built relationships across Australian sporting teams but also hosted staff at the Rabbitohs previously.
“I think it’s really important so we are lucky that we get a lot of visitors here coming to the Club because they like to see how we do things so we get to learn from those guys who come in to visit us. Also individually each staff member has an expectation from the Club that we will go out and find worldwide best practice so often in season that’s difficult.
“We spend a lot of times with AFL clubs and I spend a lot of time on the phone and in different formats with Port Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney Giants for example, as two AFL clubs and I know the other staff do the same. And then similarly, when we get the chance in off-season and in our Bye rounds and Rep rounds for example, when we get a bit of an extended break we try to get overseas so I am going to be able to get over to L.A. like I said and spend some time there at the U.S. Olympic Committee. They have a training centre in Anaheim which is going to be really good to see. I met their staff when they came over here recently. Then I’ll travel over to San Francisco and spend some time with the Oakland Raiders which is really good. I’m a big NFL fan so I’ll catch a game while I’m over there as well and enjoy some of their training and see how they prepare their players.”
Devlin admits that expanding on his professional development is something that he has become quite obsessed over, taking opportunities whenever time permits with the support from his family.
“I’m a bit obsessive over this sort of stuff to be honest. I combine holidays with professional development, my wife has kind of gotten used to it now.
“I went back to the U.K. a few years ago and spent some time with Everton. I’m a big Everton fan as well so that was really enjoyable. I spent some time with the EIS, spent some time with the AIS. Institutes of Sport are often really good for learning and there are some really good people there. A couple of years ago I also spent time with the (Seattle) Seahawks and Washington Redskins over in America.”
Back at Rabbitohs Headquarters, Devlin also explains the changes that will take place that include upgrades to the facilities in order for players to come back to a fresh environment.
“In our off-season, we will obviously do a thorough review of everything in the performance department and the medical area as well. We work out exactly from our learning experiences abroad and different places how we can improve our performance and exactly what we are doing in our roles and then similarly we have quite significant facility upgrades each year to make sure that the facilities are fresh for when the players come back and it’s like a new start for them again.”