Finding opportunity in adversity

Published on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Author : Nicholas Sacco

High performance expert David Buttifant has encouraged players to use the COVID-19 season disruption as an opportunity to improve their physical and mental performance.

The former Collingwood and Carlton strength and conditioning boss signed on as High Performance and Leadership consultant with Bundoora during the off-season.

It was a major coup for the Bulls, with Buttifant playing an integral role in Collingwood’s 2010 premiership success.

Buttifant has been guiding the Bulls’ playing group through different ways to train and keep fit during the COVID-19 enforced season postponement.

“I’ve had a bit to do with the coaches and I’ve had a lot to do with the leadership team and to help drive the leadership program. I give them some guidance on fitness stuff as well,” Buttifant told

“Michael Ryan’s a very innovative coach. He’s very professional, has high energy levels and he’s got a real caring nature about his players and the club.

“We were able to get the players together, communicate what are the key aims through this lockdown period that needed to focus on for themselves and for others as well.

“I did put some kind of guidelines for them. A bit of a prescriptive model on what they can do in this isolation period as far as training load, how they can train by themselves, resistance training, conditioning and a bit of ball work.

“Just something to keep themselves occupied during this time but a lot of it comes down to them needing the drive themselves to do those things.”

Buttifant emphasised that while maintaining physical conditioning was important during these unprecedented times, it was even more important for athletes to stay mentally healthy and to continue to connect with fellow teammates.

“I think one of the most important things is that you still need to keep some form of connection, and when I say connection, I’m not talking about physical connection,” he said.

“You still can use WhatsApp to communicate and call and text people, Zoom, whatever it may be. Just keep that connection happening.

“Some guys are using Strava (social fitness networking app) and stuff like that which is kind of a way you can see the loads that they’re doing, and it keeps a bit of competition and a bit of energy and motivation up as well. Those things are important.

“That’s the great thing about team sport, you feel a sense of connection and a sense of belonging and you want to still be able to maintain that.”


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MASSIVE NEWS!! The Bundoora Football Club would like to announce that David Buttifant has joined the Bulls. David comes to the club with a reputation as one of the worlds best Sports Scientists, fitness and conditioning coaches. His credentials speak for themselves: -13 years at Collingwood as head of Sports Science (including there premiership year) -Head of Conditioning at the Carlton Football Club – Worked with the Australian Olympic Team Butters is working our Mens and Womens sides extremely hard, but the benefits are already showing with a lot of players embracing the work. The good news keeps on rolling at the club, with more to come! #butter #fitness #bulls #everythingwevegot

A post shared by Bundoora FNC (@bundoorabullsfnc) on

Buttifant also stressed the importance of maintaining a routine each day to ensure players stayed active and structured.

“Doing routine stuff is what’s crucial. From sleep, eating and exercise, hopefully they’re applying some of those strategies as well, which is really important,” he said.

“It’s what we are kind of focusing on. The things you hear in football terms, the ‘one-percenters’. All the small things you can control – sleep patterns, eating well, exercising regularly, the right type of exercise, keeping connected.”

Buttifant has also relayed his own leadership experience on to Bundoora’s playing group and hoped the leaders of the club used the pandemic as a learning experience.

“When we’re exposed to some form of adversity, it is challenging on many fronts but I think in a way, you can turn adversity into an advantage and what I mean by that is that you’re helping other people, you’re supporting other people,” he said.

“Leadership is an ongoing development, so you’ve got to keep supporting and empowering and that’s where Mick Ryan is really good.

“He’s big on getting the right values, the right systems and processes in place to support your leaders and young leaders in the club and continue to build the culture of the place.”

After missing the finals for the first time in two decades in 2020, Bundoora is committed to investing in its youth as it looks to build towards another period of sustained success.

Buttifant said it was importance the next generation understood the importance of having pride in representing the club and upholding its key values.

“For some clubs, values might be things like unity, it could be enthusiasm, it could be commitment, it could be discipline, it could be respect. They’re great words, they’re powerful but what are the actions that are going to really morph those into reality?” he said.

“What things are they doing that are going to really support those values that the club uphold? That’s what is important, getting your young leaders really driving those actions that support those actions of the club.”

From his limited time with Bundoora, Buttifant believes the club is on the right track to achieve success once competition does eventually resume.

“When you have this kind of sense of connection at a club and they’re eager to get better and eager to actually build their capacity, it’s exciting,” he said.

“Then when you have someone who is their leader like Mick Ryan – he inspires and generates that energy as well so it’s like everyone’s on the same page. That’s one thing I’ve really noticed.

“As far as buying in to their actual systems and processes that have been put forward, it’s great for the team and it will help with what they want to achieve.”

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