AMTP Mentorship - Blog 1 - 'Improvise, Adapt, Overcome'

This year I have started a 12 month mentorship with Darren Roberts ( who is the Head of Performance at Harris and Ross Physiotherapy. Darren is the former High Performance Director of Red Bull UK, so on a daily basis he is managing the return to play and physical preparation of many action sports athletes.

I have know Darren for a short while firstly connecting via our common network, as well as Darren's Performance Forum. We become closer after both of us reconnected with our military past (Me - Royal Marines, Darren - Airborne). I have always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder that I was never a sport athlete, but this year I realised 'dam right I've been an athlete, I was a tactical athlete for 6 years!!'. Unlocking the transferable skills of my time in the Marines has been awesome, I can now use the mental strength qualities I developed and impart them to my athletes, I can talk about how severe the physical training was and how I firstly prepared for Royal Marines training and secondly how I developed the tenacity to be able to complete my Commando Tests:

“Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” is an unofficial slogan among US Marines made popular by Clint Eastwood’s movie - Heartbreak Ridge. Should tough times occur, the ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome problems will be necessary regardless of how well-stocked, tooled, provisioned, or conditioned you are. Honing this ability will serve you well. These skills can be cultivated easily in any setting. (I found a great article on it here -


If there is one thing that Darren definitely does, that is he throws you in the deep end! On arrival, on my first experience of the mentorship programme Darren simply outlined the two athletes that we would be working with:


Athlete 1

Sport - Mountain Biker

Issue - Broken wrist

Training Focus - Strength development


Athlete 2

Sport - Motocross

Issue - Pin recently removed from ankle/foot

Training Focus - Strength and high intensity conditioning


Myself and Matt Crampton were set the task to design and deliver the training sessions for the athletes to complete.


Athlete 1


The initial plan was to firstly assess the athlete - as this was the first time I had worked with him. Then proceed with mobility and activation (lunges and Bosu), followed by a single leg - leg press and triple hop, before finishing with some assistance lower body and core work.

Athlete 1 Plan

Athlete 1 Plan

However after starting the activation section - lunge matrix (forward, backwards, lateral) it was clear that the athlete had some issues controlling his right knee (both tightness and instability of right hip) - they say 'no plan survives first contact' at this point it was time to 'Improvise, Adapt and Overcome'. The remainder of the session compromised of a lot more lunging and step-ups (assisted and resisted) to drive control and activation of the hip capsule. I thought back to a previous discussion with Darren in which he explained -what is strength work for one athlete, will be totally different for another'. On this given day, concentrating on executing basic movement patterns was a tough session for the athlete -there was no need, nor justification to then develop strength via the leg press, through a dysfunctional movement.


Athlete 2


The outline for the session was to develop strength at the hip, leg and ankle. We put together a resistance training session lasting 30min, compromising of a heavy Trap-bar deadlift, moderate load hip thruster and someankle stability and strength (proprioceptive work and skipping).

The second half of the session included a tough 30min high intensity circuit (the athletes races can last over 35min at a very high intensity). I called on my previous experience of being a CrossFit athlete to put together the circuit, it was an ascending-descending rep scheme -

21 reps-15reps-9reps-9reps-15reps-21reps.


Exercise selection:

Rower for Cals- forward and back

Bar touching Burpee - up and down

Thruster - up and down

MB Slam - Down

Battle ropes - rotation


Once again the plan needed to be adjusted as some hench bloke was using the rap-bar - luckily the athlete was competent at deadlifting, so we substituted the exercise. For the ankles we did away with skipping, in place we put some eccentric calf raises, super-setted with some trampoline drills.


Then for the circuit - I knew it was going to be tough, so I put a 30min time cap on the workout, I let the athlete complete the 21 rep series, plus the rowing and burpees, then I jumped in and said 'don’t let me catch you'. Its been a while since I did some phys like this and it wasn’t long before I was blowing! Fair play to the athlete he manged to stay ahead of me and completed the workout in 27mins! His feedback was that it was the hardest circuit he'd ever done- mission accomplished!


Overall, I loved the day as it tested my abilities to plan, deliver, adapt and review. I was happy with the way the sessions went and was pleased with gaining the athletes buy-in to the sessions. I have never had a mentor and was always annoyed at this - yes I did a ton of CPD and regularly speak to other practitioners, but having someone really direct both my learning and application is going to invaluable. Even after just a few months I feeling more confident in my abilities, knowledge and practice. Darren has been a rock for me, in what has been a difficult year - I am massively grateful to be working with someone with so much knowledge, but more importantly has the same mind-set and approach to life. I can't wait to learn more - bring it on!!!!