The Inside Track
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Managing Director, Global Sports Innovation
Richie Gray is as an elite performance skills/contact coach, who has quite simply changed the way players train and prepare for the area of Collision within the sports of Rugby Union, Rugby League and American Football globally. Although Gray is the founder of GSI Performance, he is also a full time professional coach in his own right. Gray has changed the way players and coaches prepare, develop and execute contact skills within collision sports.
The 3 key areas that have made him unique are:
- Gray has innovated specific technical training equipment to replicate key movement patterns within the techniques that he coaches within the Collision Sports environment. This was done firstly to increase individuals’ performance levels, but he also knew it would have a major and positive affect on player injury prevention and long-term athlete welfare and longevity of career.
- Through research, prototypes and testing, Gray has found much better ways of developing the performance of the athlete through challenging and changing the way he coaches the areas of collision, as well as preparing the athlete to come back from injury into a full ‘return to play’ programme.
- Gray, over the past 10yrs of developing technical training equipment and coaching at the highest levels of the game, has created his own coaching methodology behind key areas of collision. These key performance indicators have then been developed into what Gray calls “The 5 Fights”, these relate to all his contact and collision techniques that he coaches.
Gray’s company GSI Performance is at the forefront of changing the mind-set behind performance programmes and technical training aids for collision sports. Gray’s training aid principles are:
- You must create training aids that make the athlete replicate the key movement patterns that happen within the chosen sport to improve his/her performance.
- The training aid must give the athlete feedback.
- The training aid must at all times challenge the athlete, both physically and mentally, to be accurate in execution. This can be achieved through the specific weight, design and function of the training aid.
- Training aids cannot be seen as an easy option, they must always hold a degree of difficulty related to key movement patterns – remember if it does not challenge you, it won’t change you.
- In many ways you can’t beat “live” practice, but as coaches we also have a duty of care to our athletes. Training aids can be used to work to a level of fatigue first before going “live”.
- As a coach, to move your athlete forward, you must be able to coach and perfect technique detail that relate to the specific movements within that sport.
Gray is currently the Skills/Contact Coach at Montpellier Herault Rugby in The French Top 14 League. He was the Skills/Breakdown Coach from 2013-2016 for The Springboks and The Blitzbokke South African 7s Team. He consulted to his home country of Scotland for the 2016 & 2017 seasons and in 2016 also consulted to Miami Dolphins for the 2016 season. He also created “The Gray Tackle System” Technical Training Equipment which is now being used in the NFL by teams such as Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and The New York Giants. College and High School programmes are also now using this innovative tackle equipment across the US to increase player performance within the tackle area. In November 2018 GSI Performance partnered with USA Football to launch “The 5 Fights” Advanced Tackle Programme. This will be rolled out across the US Youth and Schools sector to develop tackle performance within playing and coaching in 2019.
Richie Gray – GSI Performance