2022 is certainly looking to be an exciting year for Tatami Fightwear; working with new athletes from around the World, and continuing to grow our Brand rapidly in many different ways. As part of that, we are excited to collaborate with Sports Science Consultancy, Informed Performance. The Team have a broad range of expertise and knowledge in the world of athletic performance, and their aim is to inform and educate our customers and social media following on how strength training and sports science can help you on your Jiu Jitsu journey. We caught up with the talented team at Informed Performance, who will explain who they are & what they do...
Who are Informed Performance and what do you do?
We are a Sport Science Consultancy company with a very strong blend of practical experience and academic knowledge. Michael has been working full time in elite sport since 2003 and has coached Olympic athletes from over 20 different sports. For the last 8 years, he's been working full time with the Great Britain Athletics team where he leads the physical preparation department (Strength and Conditioning, Physiology and Nutrition). He holds a PhD in sport science from Swansea University and has consulted with international sports teams and organisations in the areas of strength and power development, training design and recovery. He is also a purple belt under Victor Estima and for the last couple of years has been providing strength and conditioning support to some of the UK's top Jiu Jitsu athletes.
Rob has worked as a strength and conditioning coach in elite sport since 2012, supporting athletes in a number of both Olympic and non-Olympic sports, including Rugby, Football, Boxing, Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. For the last 7 years, Rob has worked full time with the Great Britain Athletics team, and has consulted for Virgin London Marathon, England Athletics and British Athletics Futures. This year, Rob completed his PhD from Loughborough University that explored muscle size and strength determinants of elite level sprint performance. A former rugby player and Olympic weightlifting national champion and record holder, Rob currently holds a blue belt under professor Victor Estima.
Julie has a PhD in Sport Psychology from Loughborough University and has consulted to many sports over the years. Julie also has extensive experience as a professional swimmer, where she held several national records and competed at the World, European and Commonwealth Games, so she knows a thing or two about dealing with competitive stress! Similarly, our nutritionist Louise is an ex-professional sprinter that represented team GB at the Rio Olympics. She is now the lead nutritionist for both the British Olympic track and field and Judo teams and, as such has extensive expertise in nutrition for strength and power sports and weight making for combat sports.
Clearly you work with a lot of elite athletes, but are your programs also available to the wider general public?
Absolutely! In elite sport we develop an individual performance plan for each athlete and this process can be applied to anyone. It’s about first identifying what you what to achieve. For an Olympic level sprinter this might be improving the time it takes to get to 10 metres, for a high-level Jiu Jitsu competitor it might be maintaining grip strength late into a tournament, and for a recreational Jiu Jitsu athlete it might be gaining lean muscle mass or increasing the amount of rounds they are able to do in sparring. It’s then our job to work with the individual to identify what you can do, do differently, or stop doing to achieve their goal, while also bearing in mind the realities of their individual situation (e.g. family and work commitments, training background, access to equipment, injury history, age etc).
Where are you based? Can you provide services to anyone based across the United Kingdom?
We are based in Loughborough in the East Midlands, UK. However, to ensure that our services are not restricted by geography, we use an industry leading online platform and app. This not only means we can have regular communication with our clients, but importantly allows us to deliver a robust coaching service through uploading exercise demonstration videos and allowing our clients to upload videos of their training to receive technical feedback and individualised cues to implement during their next session.
What is the aim of an Informed Performance program?
That depends on the type of program, and while we offer various programs with specific outcome aims (an example may be strength and power development for Jiu Jitsu), the aim of our individualised programs is to apply robust scientific principles and the knowledge gained from years in the field to answer a “performance problem'', considering each individuals reality. As mentioned previously, this performance problem could be anything from developing a program to deal with some nagging injuries through to designing a periodised nutrition and training plan to peak for a competition. When we say we work within the realities of each individual, what we mean is that 2 people may have the same goal (e.g. prepare for a competition) but one may be juggling a busy work and family life alongside their training, while another is a full-time athlete. Likewise, one may have access to limited equipment at home, whilst the other can get to a public gym multiple times a week. Our job is to take these differences into consideration and design a program that works at an individual level.
Are they tailored to everyone's individual needs?
As above, all of our online coaching and personalised programs are totally tailored to the individual’s needs, we also recognise that this approach may not suit everybody’s preference. For those that prefer a more independent approach to their training and nutrition, we also offer 4-12 week “off the shelf” programs that have specific focuses; for example, our strength for BJJ and our “Fit to Roll” programs, that can be purchased from our website.
Tell us about some of the athletes you've worked with?
Over our 20 odd years working in elite sport we’ve been lucky enough to coach/support Olympic and world medallists from Athletics, Triathlon, Boxing, Judo, Swimming, Diving, Hockey, Bobskeleton, Bobsleigh, Sailing and Cycling. We’ve also consulted to international Rugby and professional Football teams in the areas of strength and power testing, competition optimisation and training recovery. In the world of Jiu Jitsu, we currently support a number of high-level competitors including Vanessa English (pictured), Jakub Zajkowski and Charlie Adorian.
As you know, Tatami's roots are firmly based within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and we know you work with Tatami's own, Vanessa English. How would your services benefit someone living the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle?
We really think there are two ways to think about how you can approach using our services to benefit your Jiu Jitsu. The first and most obvious is performance enhancement. While technique during Jiu Jitsu is key (and we’re sure we’ve all experienced been dominated by smaller more technical fighters at some stage of our Jiu Jitsu careers!), developing the correct types of power, strength and conditioning undoubtedly plays a role in enhancing your performance on the mats. The trick however is making sure that the training off the mat works in conjunction with the training on the mat and ensuring that the training off the mat also accounts for the impact of both Jiu Jitsu training and general life, which can lead to even greater performance outcomes. Competition prep is another big area. For example, how the balance of on-the-mat to off-the-mat training may
change in the lead into a competition, how to approach being on weight 4 weeks out vs. 4 days out, or how do you deal with the competition day from a nutritional, physiological and psychological perspective?
The other aspect is what we like to think of as performance maintenance. There is nothing more frustrating than either being restricted in what you can do on the mats, or not being able to train altogether. The reality is that by training Jiu Jitsu you will be repeating certain movement patterns multiple times a day/week, with the vast majority of predominantly playing guard on or passing to one side. Add in preferences for certain types of guards and passes and you inevitably end up overloading certain areas of the body resulting in asymmetries in strength and mobility. In simple terms, the more the body deviates away from its ‘normal’ the more likely pain and injury are to occur. Therefore, it’s important to have a training program aimed at addressing your specific needs to help counteract the impact of Jiu Jitsu (and life generally) and help keep you on the mats doing what you love.
As part of the collaboration between Tatami Fightwear and Informed Performance, what are you looking to achieve from this partnership?
We want to increase the understanding of how strength training and sport science can support the goals of every Jiu Jitsu practitioner, from hobbyist to full-time competitor. Given the social media world we live in today there is so much information available online, and unfortunately when it comes to Jiu Jitsu there is a lot of pseudo-science and misinformation. Partnering with Tatami gives us a platform to provide people with access to training and sport science information that they can trust.
Thank you to the Informed Performance team for answering our questions and giving us a deeper insight into what they offer as expert performance consultants; we are looking forward to collaborating! Keep an eye on our social media for more content featuring the Informed Performed team, including an exciting competition where one lucky follower will get the chance to win a personalised training program.
Watch this space...
Check out the Informed Performance website HERE