by Keegan Smith
You might not have thought so if you watch him play, or especially if you’ve seen him with his shirt off, but the world’s most recognisable man in both codes of Rugby is human!
Friday night was an awesome night for all the Sydney Roosters players, staff and supporters because it places the team where everyone wants to be, as the number one team in the competition after all the regular season footy has been played.
While there were lots of great performances on the night it was clear from Channel 9 that their number 1 product is SBW.
The camera team sought every opportunity possible to put the games leading icon on the big screen and in front of millions of eyes around the globe because it’s clear that he’s different.
What is it?
It’s that mix of confidence and uncertainty, belief and nerves, it’s his sense of self-importance and his extremely humble nature.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, “I feel blessed to work with one of the greatest players in the modern game.” But more than that I feel blessed to be friends with a guy that plays without fear or restrictions and who constantly challenges himself to move out of his comfort zone.
How many of us are willing to move jobs once we find a position that we are comfortable with and a wage we can survive on?
How many of us gym lovers are willing to learn how to do gymnastics or yoga?
How many world-class team sport athletes will risk their reputations going into individual sports, let alone a combat sport like boxing?
When it was finally sure that I would be with the Roosters in 2013 and that Sonny had signed, I had my doubts as to what I would be able to do with him. Most guys I work with I’m sure I can help one way or another, but SBW?!
My challenge with Sonny has been to help him be as healthy and happy as he can be, while also helping him with the tools needed to take on the fierce body to body contact involved in the world’s premier Rugby League competition, the NRL.
Without disrespecting the game, the physical challenge for backs in rugby union doesn’t come close to those demanded of rugby league players. I think that’s one of the reasons that rugby union outside backs don’t convert to Rugby League.
For Sonny going from the All-Black back-line in Rugby Union to a forward in Rugby League has brought with it a need for more mass and power than what he needed in Union. Believe it or not Sonny has never really been big on weight training – it makes him too big!
Now that’s a problem most of us would love to have!
Fortunately for me weight training for muscle mass is only a small piece of the physical preparation puzzle.
Physical preparation is about learning to:
- produce more force and produce it faster;
- control the joints through full range with the right balance of strength and flexibility;
- optimise the nervous system
- correct muscular imbalances
- regenerate joint surfaces
- improve body awareness
- improve co-ordination
- fear management
- pain tolerance
- stress tolerance
- and much more!!
Sonny has embraced this method of training and used monitoring methods to get himself into the best shape of his life.
While I have full faith in the methods I use I know that only athletes that believe in them and apply the methods thoroughly can reap the full rewards.
These are the methods I’ve used with Sonny and the rest of the Roosters squad. So far it’s put us at the top of the league and also contributed to 2 successful seasons in the European Super League with the Catalans Dragons.
I’m now in my third season since moving from being a professional backpacker, linguist and part-time humanitarian and as time goes on I’m more and more confident that the methods I use work.
I’ve had 3 successful seasons together with coach Trent Robinson where the team has significantly outperformed the results of the previous season.
I’m also happy to say that many players have had their best seasons while I’ve been working with them.
I can be boastful of the methods I use since none of them are mine. I’ve just spent 10 years learning and applying the best of what is out there from many fields of training, nutrition, health and psychology.
Work done in the gym and on the field is a major factor in on-field success, but it’s only part of the success puzzle.
See, you can train for 1-6 hours a day, but what you do with the rest of your time and, even more importantly, where your mind is the whole time, makes all the difference.
The stereotype of a Rugby League player is a tough guy that trains hard, plays harder and parties hardest. Sonny is breaking that mould and I try my best to move away from this scene with all my athletes and clients as I have done in my own life.
Faith in the divine nature of the universe and the perfection of nature is what drives me to keep building my vision of a healthier, happier, world.
While Sonny has his own beliefs and his own drives it’s easy to see that there is a deeper connecting to the way he plays and trains.
Now more and more Sonny and the Sydney Roosters players are completing the bigger picture of food, sleep, mindset, recovery and everything else that goes into accessing more of our god given talents.
None of us will ever get even close to using the talents and vitality that what we are blessed with to their maximum.
My journey is to explore my own gifts and encourage others to do the same.
What more could I ask for than to have the chance to work with the Sydney Roosters and Sonny Bill; an awesome athlete and a special human.
Keegan Smith coaches Sonny Bill Williams & Sydney Roosters in all things performance. His goal is to help 1,000,000 people improve their health and performance through a holistic approach. His soon to be released project – biggerpicture.me – will make the science of health and effective training available and accessible to those outside the rugby league world. Follow the link and join pre-sale list. Keegan is also on Facebook and you can follow him on Twitter.