USP Athlete Kurt Tippett Retirement Insights Final Swan Song

Over the past week I’d been playing phone tag with Kurt Tippett, finally after 8 missed calls, he dropped the bombshell. “Joey, Im going to announce my retirement today (Monday 22nd January), I wanted to let you know first, before it was released to the media, mate I’m so grateful for everything you’ve done for me over the past 14 years you’ve had massive impact on me as a man and as a footballer”!
I was shocked, but not surprised!

AFL Superstar Kurt Tippett responds best to training intensity!

For the past 14 years Kurt has been an integral part of USP and In Joe We Trust as one of our ambassadors and laid the foundations for many of the underlying philosophies and expectations that we place upon our athletes entering into our elite strength and conditioning coaching program. I remember the off-season 2015/2016 Kurt trained alongside talented Gold Coast junior, now Gold Coast Suns 2017 Draft Pick Brayden Crossley in THE PIT as Kurt changed into his singlet and trained like a man possessed-I said, that’s the standard! Brayden followed the expectations, trained like a man possessed cleaned up his diet and took his professionalism to new standards-he was justly rewarded with All Australian Selection and much improved confidence and body composition!

Kurt Tippett Before and After Pics Pre-Season with Joey Hayes 2014-2015

Gold Coast Suns Academy, QLD rep, Allies player and Current Gold Coast Suns AFL 2017 Draft Pick Brayden Crossley followed the USP Dietary protocols to take 8kgs of fat off in 8 weeks!

I remember it like yesterday circa November 2004/2005-a raw teenager who was 200cm+ tall walked into the Southport Sharks gym and introduced himself as Kurt Tippett. He had very little AFL experience having transitioned from basketball to AFL. The irony being that I knew who this bloke was…we both attended the same primary school St. Vincents at Clear Island Waters on the Gold Coast he actually equalled my long held high jump record of 1.08m for the 7 year old age group.

In 2005/2006 Norm Dare was at the helm of the Southport Sharks and we had a tremendous amount of junior talent coming thru… many that would go on to get drafted and play AFL. We had Brent Renouf, Wade Mills, Sam Gilbert, Hayden Kiels, Dayne Beams and Jessie White all young men under 18 that would help take the Sharks to 4 consecutive Grand Finals and 3 premierships!

Joey Hayes and Hawthorn Premiership Player Brent Renouf at hawthorn Footy Club Circa 2008

I remember Kurt approached me after one of the Southport Sharks pre-season sessions to do some private strength and conditioning sessions in THE PIT to help get him bigger…faster…stronger…flexible and more powerful…My experience tells me that athletes that are going to be elite are always looking for the edge and a competitive advantage! In Tippos mind if he was doing the extra specialised work that his opponents were not, he would beat them. It’s a philosophy that held him in great stead throughout his career. As an athlete he was always innovating and looking for new ways to physically and mentally prepare (I’ll touch on some of those crazy things later on in the article).

He arrived for the interview early, wide eyed and ready with all paper work completed. Even during his interview when he outlined his goals, they didn’t just include footy, they included life after footy and life during footy. I was impressed as a 16 year old he was already intimately aware that he needed to have a back up plan if footy didn’t work out. Number 1. Goal to get drafted to an AFL Club November 2007! Clarity leads to power! We agree that everything you do between now and then is either going to progress you towards your goals or take you further away from them-make the right choices and appropriate sacrifices.

Kurt played some great footy and was selected to play for the GC stingrays rep team. Unfortunately he suffered a broken tibia in a trial game and missed out on representing the GC stingrays at the QLD State Carnival. Generally athletes have to play in this carnival to get selected in the QLD U/18 team to play at the national carnival. Although he was disappointed to miss out, we set a target to dominate for the June 2006 national AFL carnival. We knew it would be a challenge but if Kurt dominates for the Southport Sharks senior team as an 18 year old he’d have a chance, but first we’d have to smash out the rehab for the broken tibia.

Kurt trained in THE PIT 3-4 times a day for a month during his rehab….with a combination of strength and conditioning work..I learned a lot about this bloke-even at 18 years of age he was the ultimate professional and has a tremendous work ethic and will do whatever it takes or whatever is required-I know this lesson will hold him in good stead as a professional athlete should the opportunity arise!

Fast forward to May 2007 and Kurt has been putting in some outstanding performances for the Southport Sharks senior team playing in the forward line-grabbing everything that comes his way and kicking big bags of goals! Whilst training in THE PIT Kurt receives a voice message (because there’s no phones allowed in THE PIT) it’s QLD selector Mark Browning..with the news that Kurt will be selected to play in the National Carnival in Melbourne in June. The tibia injury, although not ideal is a blessing in disguise and has given us time to add another 8 kilos of muscle to Tippos frame to withstand the rigours of playing senior footy, but more importantly monster any of his opponents especially at the underage national carnival…

Fast forward to June 2006 and Kurt is playing at Full Forward for the QLD U/18 team..at 200cm and 95kgs he’s a defenders nightmare. They can’t go with him, too big, too strong, too powerful, too explosive! He kicks multiple bags of 6 goals and the recruiting scouts take note..who is this guy and where did he come from??

Kurt Tippett Under 18 national Championships

Fast forward to September 2007 and Tippos lining up for the Southport Sharks senior team for the Grand Final at Cararra stadium (now Metricon). Another elite performance and rumour has it, the recruiting scouts are saying he’ll go Top 20 in the draft! There is a genuine big forward with marking power, who is agile, can jump,. reads the flight of the ball and has super clean hands! This is a great effort considering Kurt is studying pharmacy full time at uni!

Southport Sharks Grand Finals 2006

November 2007: Adelaide Crows Pick 32 2007 Kurt Tippett from the Southport Sharks. Tippos goal has now been realised. Im so stoked for this bloke for the genuine effort he has put in, but also the time and money he has invested….

Although stoked we also know the cold reality that only a small percentage of athletes that get drafted have successful careers longer than a few years…even fewer are able to set themselves up financially.

The conversation turns to how to ensure a long career…the key lies in elite professionalism and staying injury free, fuelling your body with elite food, listening to your body and managing work load and recovery!! I fly down to the Adelaide Crows in 2008 for some professional development and am humbled by the feedback from Chris Hinck the Adelaide Crows strength and Conditioning coach who was blown away by the condition Kurt was in when he arrived at the Crows after getting drafted as a 19 year old. “He is strong, flexible, powerful, solid with great sprint biomechanics has good movement qualities. Not only that but Kurt’s professionalism is light years ahead of most guys that are 5-10 years older than him. He knows how to eat, cook, recover, hydrate and undertakes his stretching every day for a minimum of an hour! But more importantly he has a ferocious work ethic on the track and in the gym.”

Joey Hayes and Adelaide Crows Strength and Conditioning Coach Kris Hinck

It’s this trip to Adelaide that really open my eyes up to how to structure a skill and games based fitness session which was the catalyst for our AFL Strongman Training Camps. It’s a long held belief that the Adelaide Crows have had superior running and conditioning programs. I see why!

The great thing about this bloke is he never forget this roots. Still with strong relationships with many of his school mates and team mates from his days at the sharks. Likewise he is happy to give up his time to inspire and impart his knowledge and wisdom onto young athletes. Check out Kurt and Joel Tippett at our inaugural AFL Strongman Camp circa 2008 at PBC High School!

Strongman Camp 2008 Special Guests Kurt Tippett and Joel Tippett

Strongman Camp 2008 Special Guests Kurt Tippett and Joel Tippett

I’m overseas so I miss watching Kurts first game, although player manager and one of Kurts long time All Saints school mates and underage All Australian AFL Player, now football player manager Adam Hall recounts Tippos 1st Game in Adelaide. “All of Kurts mates make the trek to Adelaide and they lob up on Kurts doorsteps 2 days before the game…it’s carnage…there’s bodies everywhere…blokes sleeping in the bathtub on the loungeroom floor…anyway the morning of the game..one of the lads cant find his keys so he’s banging on the door trying to get in at 3am in the morning and Tippo is meant to be playing at 2pm…not exactly what you’d call the ideal preparation…but anyone who knows you’re young and live once and your mates are so stoked to see you fulfil your dream. Tippo 1st game, first mark kicks a goal and ends up bagging 3 goals for the game!” Not a bad debut performance! The draft choice has been a wise one from the Adelaide Crows.

AFL Player manager Adam Hall special guest at Strongman Camp 2017

2009 Tippo has a great season and then dislocates his shoulder another surgery and 12 weeks in a sling….the off-season we work on his lower body strength but also shoulder stability drills and introduce him to the EMS machine to stimulate the muscles to minimise atrophy as well as well limb exercises to get some neural transference to maintain strength on reconstructed shoulder. His leg strength increased by around 38%. Where there is a will, there is a way. He works through and around his injuries and never wastes an opportunity to improve!

For an athlete that is 200cm+ Kurt Tippetts’ posture is perfect working on lower body strength in THE USP PIT Gymnasium Circa 2009/2010!

2010 As soon as Tippo arrives on the GC first stop is to catch up at THE PIT and discuss training goals for the off-season break then it’s the traditional Food Lunch Feast. Tippo without fail trains in THE PIT as soon as he arrives on the Gold Coast. This includes AFL Grand Final day, Christmas day and New Years day. With Tippo there is no off time! Rarely eats crap food or drinks alcohol, never misses a training session. He’s a professional and knows that means you’re a professional full time-all the time! People always comment on the sort of shape tippo arrives in for the first day of pre-season for his club training. I guarantee it’s not luck! He’s put the grunt work in The USP PIT Gymnasium over the off-season time during his stay on the Gold Coast and follows the USP dietary protocols to a tee! The body doesn’t lie!

Kurt Tippett Day 1 Pre-Season Sydney Swans in elite condition

Sydney Swans Star Kurt and  North Melbourne player Joel Tippett, Joey and Essendon Player Sam Michael Day 1 USP PIT Off-season post training sesh feed-yes that’s a chicken salad!

2011 Tippo sustains a stress fracture in the foot throughout the season and we are limited by what we can do for the 6 week block before Christmas. We enlist the services of Elite Podiatrist and Australian Olympic Team Sprint Coach Ash Mahoney to rehab Tippos stress fracture with some revolutionary foot strength exercises…with Tippo notably faster and recording better ground contact times and better force output as a result of the specialist training and strength drills. (Unlike other athletes who are happy to keep insulated using only club resources, Tippo is open minded and seeks out the best specialists outside the club). Click here for full article on Tippo speed training with Joey, Ash and Dean.

Australian Olympic Sprint Coach Ash Mahoney imparting his elite speed training methods onto the Strongman Tribe!

Kurt Tippett Overhead Pressing Strength

2012 Off-season-we trial a revolutionary approach to nutrition and supplementation based on nutrient deficiency and toxicity blood chemistry assessments-the results on performance and recovery are astonishing. You can read about the Blood Chemistry Interpretation Methodologies here.

2013 Kurt coaches the Strongman tribe and shared a few insights. Click link for tippos Strongman Tips.

We also trial a revolutionary technology to monitor recovery. It’s called  heart rate variability which allows athletes to keep healthy and injury free.

Tippo with the Strongman Tribe October 2014

2014 We introduce Functional Neurology  protocols that are being successfully implemented with EPL Soccer players to prolong their careers, increase speed, reaction and modulate pain.

As Kurts profile grows and how he conducts himself both on and off the field he is in demand for ambassadorial roles. One of those is called project futures which is aimed at stopping the trafficking of women in 3rd world countries. He is the face of the 2014 Stella Fella Charity Ball.

Stella Fella Ball Project Futures with the lads!

Around the end of 2014 we begin to implement Neural Engagement therapy as part of pain management and recovery processes-this technique has profound effects on chronic knee tendonitis. Click the link below to see these mind blowing techniques in action. Neural Engagement Therapy 

To further my going professional development-I’m extremely grateful to spend time with the Swans S and C department. They continue to produce the results year in, year out and the insights I receive are greatly appreciated. Click the link here to check out the article.

Sydney Swans Strength and Conditioning Coach Damien Austin, Joey Hayes and Kurt Tippett at Sydney Swans Facility SCG

During the 2015/2016 Off-Season we are chosen to trial the exogen micro loading suits you can read about the suits here:

Im fortunate to be with Kurt and his family to watch his 150th game. What’s impressive is the fact that every single child in the Tippett family is a professional athlete. Kurt, Gretel and Joel. Click the link here to gain insights into one of Australia’s most successful sporting families.

I’m lucky enough to be seated in the family/players/partners section for the 2 Grand Finals 2015 and 2016. The first year against Hawthorn in 2015 is like attending a funeral or looking at car crash. The sydney crowd is stunned. It’s tough to know what to say or do in a situation like this?? The only option we have is to work hard in the off-season and go again for 2016.

As an athlete matures, their outlook on life and sport changes. They figure out what works for them to get the best out of their body and how to prepare their mind. To reach elite performance Fear and Gratitude cannot exist! Here’s a link to an article that has had profound effects on many of the elite athletes I have coached that discusses many of those concepts.

2016 AFL Grand Final Swans vs Bulldogs. This has to be their year. They have played some amazing footy. Tippo was in All-Australian Form at the start of the year but fractured his jaw in the final against GWS. Again sitting with the players/partners and family in the same seats as the previous year…hoping for a different result..It’s looking good until the last quarter…and that sinking feeling begins to creep in..before we know it the siren has gone and so close yet so far…another 1 down the drain. It’s heart breaking for the friends and families involved…but more so for the players. Nothing you say can console them, nothing you do can take the pain away. Like last year all we can do is get back and work our backsides off over the off-season. Without fail-tippo rocks up 1 week after the Grand Final ready to bust down the door in the PIT.

Kurt Tippett with Elite Physiotherapist Victor Popov at The USP PIT Gymnasium in the off-season 2016 getting the body right for 2017!

2017-The last game I watched Kurt play was against Fremantle in Sydney August 2017, where he is back in fine form. Laying tackles, kicking goals and is looking ominous for finals time. The next day after the game his ankle is as big as my quad, he’s moving slowly, but never complains. As a mate I think to myself…how much longer are you going to keep doing this to your body? How much more can you mind handle? He’s been ripped to shreds in the media and they are unaware of how bad the ankle is?

Last Game against Fremantle last year at the SCG-tippo back in fine form!

Kurt never complains, never uses it as an excuse, just gets on with business doing any and everything he can to get the absolute most out of his body and exhaust every ounce of mental fortitude and potential he can muster.

As mate and coach who knows the impact the game has had on his body…you think self preservation…think about the future..think about what’s important? Like being able to walk pain free once your playing days are done…

Sometimes people that are outside the inner sanctum may not be aware of how challenging it is to get your mind and body up every week for a decade, the constant physical punishment the body endured and the mental anguish that goes into performing and preparation..I have first hand accounts of this with the many professional athletes I’ve coached. It makes it even more impressive when you see guys like Brent Harvey play till 38 or Nick Riewoldt play until 35 or Kurt Tippett play until 31 years of age! You can’t help but respect that!

More importantly, Im grateful for the insights permitted to me by seeing virtually every single training program and environment this bloke has worked/trained in. I’ve been able to experiment on Kurt and see the cause and effects of my programs and the clubs programs on his body and performance for more than a decade.

As man of constant growth, evolution and development and a life long leaerner-I’m positive the skills Kurt has picked up as a footballer such as our strongman characteristics for success such work ethic, discipline, leadership and courage will transfer into his new business ventures and relationships and life after footy!

I’m grateful to have been privy to his development as an athlete, man and footballer!

Anyone that has met him knows he’s a gentlemen. It’s been an absolute pleasure to coach and watch him play. I’m stoked for what he’s been able to achieve both on and off the field and am excited for what the next chapter of his life brings!!!

The best is yet to come, bring on the the final swan song!

Joey Hayes