Allan Wells' Coach Busy Again

LACROSSE player Christian Williams has ditched the sport that has made him a local hero for the home straight of Newport Athletics track in his debut season with Williamstown Athletics Club.

Despite his considerable reign over the lacrosse circuit these past four years, the 19-year-old has his sights firmly set on being at the starting line for the 100m final at the 2012 London Olympics.

The switch is no mere fleeting fancy, with Williams taking the year off lacrosse and enlisting the help of revered athletics coach Jim Bradley, who coached Britain’s Allen Wells to 100m Olympic glory in 1980.

Under Bradley’s guidance, the sprinter is training up to three times a day in a bid to fulfil his goal.

And what a large goal it is.

Bradley’s prodigy Wells was the last white man to win Olympic gold in the 100m, and the past four Olympic finals have had all eight lanes filled with sprinters of a West African descent.

But Williams is confident Bradley is just what he needs to get over the line.

“If anyone can get me into the Olympic team, he will,” Williams said.

Williams was drawn to the track for the 2006-07 summer season when he realised lacrosse would never get him to the ultimate of sporting competitions.

“I want to go to the Olympics, and lacrosse isn’t an Olympic sport, but I’m pretty fast so I decided to try sprinting,” he said.

The new-born sprinter will get to strut his stuff at this year’s Stawell Gift in April.

The athlete leaves behind an extensive repertoire in the field of lacrosse, a sport in which his uncle, Brendan Sheedy, excelled during his stint for Australia.

After starting in the sport at the age of 15, Williams was made captain of the under 19 lacrosse team in 2004 before progressing to the Australian team in 2005.

The following year he not only captained the under 19 Victorian squad, he also qualified for the Australian lacrosse open squad.

But Williams is unsure if he can juggle both lacrosse and athletics successfully in the future.

“I’d rather excel at one than just be good at both, so whichever one looks like it has more potential I’ll stick with,” a diplomatic Williams said.

And he is keen to spread his love of sport to the greater community, joining the Active After-School Communities Program where he will coach students from St Peters Chanel out of school care in Deer Park on a weekly basis.

Williams said he wanted to teach the kids that it’s never too late to take up sport.

“It’s just really important for kids to have a go and follow their dreams and don’t listen to anybody who says they can’t do it,” Williams said.

“I didn’t pick it up until I was 15 with lacrosse and within a couple of years I was playing for Australia, and with athletics I just started and I’m just going for it.”

Did Margot become his coach after 1980 or when?

The article is not entirely true.

Allan Wells trained with Wilson Young (a former Jim Bradley athlete who won the famous Powderhall Sprint in 1971) in the mid 70’s. Wells improved dramatically under Wilson’s training program which was based on the training methods of Jim Bradley.

Wells split from Young in 1978, believing Wilson didn’t have the time to devote to Wells’ requirements.

Margot took over as supervisor of the program, which took Allan to the Olympic gold medal.

Allan stuck with the Jim Bradley basic program and adapted it to suit himself.

As far as I know Jim and Allan have corresponded over the years, but Jim never coached Allan directly.

What do you know about his training methods?

Searcheroony :stuck_out_tongue:

From what I’ve read (Wells and Bradley’s books) it’s basically doing everything that you think you shouldn’t.

-bodyweight exercises, speedbag for like 12 weeks

drop all of that then move to the track for the rest of the season

-fast sprints, short rests, medium/high volumes (every day)

edit: I’d love to see James Colbert’s comments on this training structure.

Doesn’t he do plyos and such as well during both periods or no? What is medium/high volumes?

Sounds a little like the Greeks, except they had long rests.

Wells trained twice per day all year round. With plyos/bounding in the am, and track or circuits, depending on the training phase, in the pm.

mortac8 wrote: [i]"bodyweight exercises, speedbag for like 12 weeks

drop all of that then move to the track for the rest of the season

-fast sprints, short rests, medium/high volumes (every day)"[/i]

That is a very basic and perhaps rustic outline of the program. It is a little more sophisticated than that.

In my humble opinion, in the sport of professional athletics (handicap running, ie: Stawell Gift, Powderhall Sprint) Jim Bradley is the greatest sprint coach (trainer) in its history.

When I went to him as a 28 year old has been with a history of soft tissue injuries, he promised me I would run at least 5 yards faster than I had before. And he was right, in 1991 at the age of 31, I ran the fastest I’d ever had in my life, the equivalent of about 10.9, after running a string of 11.7ish performances the season before.

I now coach my own squad and my program is based on Jim Bradley’s training regime, however since I’ve read Speedtrap and attended his seminar, I do blend in some of Charlie Francis’s stuff to compliment what I’m already doing. The 10 day taper, tempo running at 75% etc. There’s also several “one percenters’ I have picked up from Charlie that have added value to the program. (eg: stretching exercises.)

Hence like a lot of coaches, my program and overall philosophy is evolving as you learn more about the craft of sprinting.

Jim’s program relies heavily on the desire and motivation of the athlete to be prepared to pay a price in the gym. It is relentless and tough - after 6 x 3mins on the speedball (I min rest) you do 5 sets of sit ups, chin ups, squats, dips, push ups. Each week you increase the reps until you can do something like – 5 sets of 300 sit ups, 20 chin ups, 50 squats, 25 dips, 50 push ups. That should take 12 weeks.

Allan Wells adapted the program to suit what he thought he needed and I’m pretty sure did not include chin ups. Allan’s work ethic was such that he was would leave nothing in the gym, putting himself through an enormous amount of exercises.

Either before or after the gym circuit, you do 6 easy run throughs at about 75%.

Once the athlete leaves the gym, he is in superb physical condition. He commences on the track with run throughs and then alternates between 50-20-50’s and 60’s for several weeks.

Jim uses what he calls “flying 50’s” as his technique training, where the athlete builds up for 20m before running solidly between two markers 50m apart where the athlete concentrates on proper use of the arms. These are the easier days in between the 60’s and 80’s (trials).

People can condemn it all they want, but I have first hand seen quite a few runners improve substantially after moving to Jim (getting down to sub 10.4’s after being 11sec runners) and his history in Scotland in the 1960’s is legendary.

After Jim moved to Australia in 1972, Wilson Young took over and by 1978 had the best sprint squad in Britain.

Wilson retired in the early 80’s after guiding 34 year old George McNeil to a memorable and remarkable Stawell Gift in 1981.

As a side note, Neil King used Jim’s speedball and gym circuit for his own squad in the 1980’s and his runners won an extraordinary number of Australia’s major pro races, including 4 Stawell Gifts in a 7 year period. Neil got a lot of his ideas from Wilson Young and Jim Bradley. Neil and Wilson Young are such good friends that Neil named his son Wilson.

I take it you also don’t use weights at all or did you decide to add them to your program?

Some of my athletes incorporate weights into their winter training. Just the basics for general strength as prescribed in Charlie’s program, to compliment the body weight exercises. I certainly think the use of free weights adds value to the overall program.

I would never discourage the use of weights and as Jim says in his book, at some stage he would have incorporated weights, but he was so successful, he was satisfied with the results he was getting without them.

Can you outline what the program would look like for indoor training and how it would progress? From my understanding, it seems like:

12 weeks:
Callisthenics/Bodyweight gym work, speed ball, easy strides

After that

AM: bounds and occasional gym work

Fast short sprints one day (either 50-20-50 or 60s), form the next (in flying 50s), and repeat

Eventually you would progress out to slightly longer distances like 150s and 200s, right?

Thanks for your reply! I was just providing a summary that I gathered from Jim’s and Margot’s books.

A question for you. I find the gym work quite easy as I have been a gym rat most of my life. After 2 weeks of playing around with this type of training I am doing 5x 50squat, 60pushup, 30dips, 15chin ups, 14 chinnies(I suck at those) and 6x3min speedbag. Is there an ultimate goal you of reps you should shoot for? I can squat & bench fairly well so alot of this stuff (except the chinnies/situps) is very easy. I don’t know if it’s worth my effort to move up to what I “could” do maybe sets of 100 squats, 100 pushups, etc. I’m just trying to figure out how to adapt the program to different people. Running is tough for me, situps are tough, the rest is pretty easy unless I go warp speed on the speedbag.

Yeah the squats listed are kind of weird. 50bw squats is something I did before I could full squat bodyweight, so it seems like people of such high level could knock out hundreds easily, especially if they are going hard.

Whilst the gym program is for 12 weeks, I break it up into two 6 week blocks. The 7th and 14th weeks are testing weeks. ie: max on speedball (3 mins); max chin ups; max dips; max push ups; target number on sit ups, might be 1000.
Must emphasise the testing is purely a motivation to do the work in the first 6 weeks and is not used for any other reason than to give the athlete a target to achieve.

One week (6 days) would be Monday to Friday and Sunday morning.

Each session:

  • 6 x 3min rounds speedball
    5 circuits of
    Sit Ups
    Chin Ups
    Sit Ups
    Push Ups
    Complete one circuit and repeat four more times. Try to minimise the time between sets.

Rest for a while, get your breath back, and then do 6 x 100m easy run throughs on the grass track.

That’s one night completed.

At the end of the 14 weeks THEN you start the track program.

Week One - 50/20/50’s
Week Two - 60’s

Alternate the above for 8 weeks then week 9 start the trials, alternating with flying 50’s and tempo work.

Mortac - We only hit the gym for the 14 weeks and then its just a maintenance program after that. So the workload is huge fro that period of time you are focussing on the gym program.

The motivation is, you know when you will be coming out of it at the end of the 12 or 14 week period and so you attack it as hard as you can. You do count down the days as it gets towards the end. It’s a tough slog.

I couldn’t imagine training like that for an infinite period of time.

The ultimate goal depends on the individual. I’ve seen blokes do 5 sets of 35 chin ups…but it makes no difference to how fast you run later. Some of the best I’ve seen in the gym, were the slower runners in the squad.

As long as you emerge from the gym confident you are as fit and as strong as you can possibly be, you shouldn’t worry about keeping up with your stablemate.

How did you do this training in Scotland/England where the weather isn’t good most of the late fall, winter, and early spring?

What plyos are included and how are the organized as I have heard that was a big part of Wells’ training?

During the track work part (after the 12 week gym period), you do that track work 6 days per week?

That gym work looks like it would totally suck but it’s probably good(safe) for highly motivated individuals that would end up injuring themselves doing huge volumes of weights or running.

I’m not in Scotland. I trained with Jim Bradley in Melbourne, Australia and am now residing in Adelaide South Australia (730kms west of Melbourne). The weather here is a lot better for this type of training. We don’t have the snow and frosts of a Scottish winter.

Bear in mind that Bradley had access to all weather tracks in Edinburgh in the 1960’s. Jim had a shed at Saughton Enclosure in Edinburgh that his lads trained in. They only needed enough room to hit the speedball, mats for the sit ups, chin up bar, dip bar and that was it. He worked with the confined space he had available to him.

Plyos? Wells adapted Jim’s program to do a bit of plyos.

Some of my athletes do plyos once or twice per week but its not a prescribed part of the Jim Bradley program.

Yes the track work is 6 days per week. One day rest - I give the athletes Saturday off to enjoy a social life. Some of them have other odd days off in between, depending on soreness.

We rarely get injuries. I have 20 athletes and most have competed all season. Only one or two have missed a week here or there due to a minor hamstring. Certainly nothing major.

I agree, You must be highly motivated to do the gym program. But if you are prepared to do the work, it does bring success.

The high emphasis on speedball work is theorised to be helpful to sprinting because of the co-ordinated movement endured at high speed between the arms/shoulder and the hips. What do you think Youngy if you also use the speedball?

And, by the way, your research on Joshua Ross’s new coach Emil Rizk was quite interesting, your advice even more-so. Ross has obviously flourished under the new routine and the coach need not gild the lilly. No-one cares. Get the job done fair and square and people will sing his praise.

One of the problems with young athletes is that they will often be more inclined to work with a coach who has a background working with former stars, rather than because the coach’s ideas are sound and make good sense.

They should hear what the coach’s ideas are about. Then, even if he’s never coached a national champion, if his knowledge is good theen give him a chance. You might be the first champion in the line of many from a new supercoach.


In respect to the speedball, I am a great believer in it for the simple reason that it directly develops the muscles in the back and shoulders that are used for sprinting.

If you see the upper back of a seasoned exponent of the speedball hitting the ball at a rate of nearly 5 hits per second, (during a 3 min round) you can observe the muscles in the back pumping away like pistons become increasingly prominent & glowing red in a V shape. Because its also non-resistant, no other form of upper body exercise could possible have the same effect.

I was 28 years old and always wore a size 39 business shirt. After one winter under Jim Bradley, I had to buy a whole lot of new shirts as I had moved to a size 41. I emerged from the gym fitter and stronger than at time in my life. And subsequently ran a helluva lot quicker than I ever had before.

So I will never dispense with the speedball no matter what some sports science guru or academically qualified coach might want to tell me. (And many have dismissed it as rubbish :slight_smile: )

I don’t think I’m anything special, I do OK with what’s at my disposal and from moving to a new state & starting with nothing I now have 20 runners of all shapes and sizes that have won more races on the Aussie pro circuit than any other stable for the last 5 years. The last 3 SA Athletic League Coach of the year awards, last 5 Club Novice Athlete Awards, and the last 2 Premier Stable awards suggest that utilising Jim Bradley’s training principles has been a pretty good move.