This started with a dream. Chris Radford wanted to offer Ballarat’s emerging and semi-professional athletes the chance to access specialist strength and conditioning training like elites.
The RAD Centre – Radford Athletic Development – started in his backyard shed for the then-North Ballarat Roosters to go for extra strength work.
From there it has evolved to a purpose-built shed in Wendouree, which Radford opened earlier this month to meet the growing demand from Ballarat athletes to help take their games to the next level stronger and faster.
Personally, this has allowed Radford to fine-tune his craft across a wide range of athletes but, more importantly he says, to bring what he learns from his work with professional athletes back into Ballarat sports.
Radford is an AFL assistant strength and conditioning coach at Western Bulldogs and his duties at the Kennel also involve leading physical performance for the club's Victorian Football League team.
In the RAD Centre, Radford and his team work with promising young footballers, basketballers, soccer players and WestVic Academy of Sport. There have also been athletes from alpine skiing, mixed martial arts, running, skateboarding, judo and wheelchair racing.
“We have relationships and try to work closely with sports professionals like physios, osteos and sports physicians to help bridge the gap. Prevention and rehabilitaion are big areas...we make it a team approach,” Radford said.
“For example, if a girl does her ACL playing football a surgeon will operate on her knee, a physio will get her walking again and we aim to help strengthen her to get playing again.
“Instead of athletes going to Melbourne for a lot of this work, do it locally.”
Radford said it was important to work with an athlete’s training plan when complementing it with strength work. From there, this team could help to educate athletes on techniques and advice to keep on top of strengthening their game.
The RAD Centre also offers an environment for sports science students at Federation University, where Radford lectures, to have exposure to working closely with semi-professional athletes. He said this was part of the team approach, helping to teach and strengthen skills of others to work in sports.
Radford said the best moment of the journey was walking through the RAD Centre doors at 5.30am on Monday a fortnight ago, his trusty dog and training partner Jimmy at his heels, ready to get to work.
That was when Radford knew his dream and vision was finally becoming a reality.
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