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INTERVIEW: It's the job and position I really wanted

Strength and conditioning coach Dave Waldie on his role at the club

28 June 2019

United boss Steven Pressley made it clear towards the end of the last campaign that fitness would be taking centre stage going forward as he looks for his team to adopt a high energy approach.


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Step forward strength and conditioning coach Dave Waldie.

Waldie, a 36-year-old former RAF physical training instructor, landed at Brunton Park in February and confirmed that he was extending his stay through next season just before the first team staff and players went away on their summer break.

His wealth of experience includes a Master of Science degree in strength and conditioning from St Mary's University, Twickenham, and he has also lectured at York College, as well as running his own personal training business.

A spell at Headley Court whilst in the military saw him work with battle trauma victims as they went through their rehabilitation process, and he has previously held fitness coaching roles at Sheffield United, Lincoln City, Notts County and Boston United.

So what made him decide that Carlisle United was the right place to be?

“The job,” he said. “I live in Lincoln, but it’s the job and position I want to do. It’s just a few hours in the car, that’s all.

“A couple of times a week I go up and down from Lincoln, leave at 4am, get here and do a bit of training before the staff come in. I always say to people, whenever your alarm clock goes off you never want to get up anyway.

“So if it’s 4 in the morning or 6, you still don’t want to get up. I just like to get here, get my training done and it sets me up for the day nicely.”

“It doesn’t feel like a job, to be honest,” he added. “I’ve done it for years, I’m passionate about it, I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk at a computer.

“I like being in the gym, being out on the football field and improving players and athletes. A lot of people don’t know their limits and that’s why someone like me is there in the first place.

“It’s getting them to a point where they realise they can work a little bit harder than they thought they could. So, when it comes to tough games, digging in, maybe extra-time in cup games, they’ve been to that place and they know what it feels like.

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“Everyone’s different and this is always what I’ve wanted to do. I’ve always had a passion for football, for coaching, and fitness. I did 10 years in the Air Force, fantastic career, really set me in good stead to move on to this.

“But every day I was in the military I always wanted to work in football. I seem to have used it as a bit of a grounding, got lots and lots of different experiences to get me to where I am today. I just really enjoy it.”

“With this particular club, I think it was the small staff numbers that really appealed,” he explained. “It’s really close-knit. Compared to some teams in our league and above, they have double, treble the amount of staff that we have.

“We all have to work well together and I think that makes the output even better. I obviously work closely with Dolly, and he does a fantastic job. I’m a bit of a middle man between the coaches’ office and physio dept, I’m always nipping in and I’ve almost got desks in both.

“It’s just communication between the two and constantly making sure everyone’s aware of what’s happening so that we’re all singing off the same song sheet once we’re out on the grass.”

Touching more on his grounding in the military, he said: “When you join up in the Air Force you start as a physical training instructor, then you specialise either as a parachute instructor, adventure training instructor or a rehab specialist.

“I went down the rehab specialist route, and worked at different stations, with lots of different injuries. Some were quite simple, ankle inversions, sporting injuries, things like that, but I also worked with battle victims as well.

“That gives you experience with a full spectrum of different injuries and personalities and there are a lot of psycho-social issues to take note of within that. I think all those experiences put me in good stead for situations going forward from here.

“For battle trauma victims, for example, you have to get used to thinking quickly and adapting. You can go into a session and have the plan laid out, but then they might say something that hits home and you have to change the whole session.

“You might end up chatting about something totally different, about sleep or recovery or nutrition or even nothing at all, because you don’t feel that actually doing the session is going to be worthwhile. You’re better off spending it in a different area. It’s about having that flexibility to go in different directions with the experiences you think will benefit that person.”

Having reached the 10-year point with the RAF, a key decision stage within that career, he explained why he decided to place the blues into mothballs before heading off in a different direction.

“The higher you go [in the military], and it’s the same with most jobs, the more you’re sat behind a desk doing admin,” he commented. “The majority of the days and years I was in the military I wanted to work in football. It had been nagging at me.

“I’ve done different jobs, personal training, contract work for the military and all sorts since I got out. I just got to a point where I was just ready to leave and pursue this career. It’s taken a few years to actually get into the job I wanted, but if it’s what you want to do you have to keep going at it and keep being determined.”

“Football is such a tough industry to get into,” he confirmed. “There are a lot of people who have been working in it for years, and they are very, very good at what they do.

“I volunteered at different clubs for a number of years to get my experiences up and to find out more about what clubs are looking for. I’ve spent hundreds, thousands of pounds on petrol and diesel money commuting to clubs, but every experience has been worthwhile.

“You have to put the groundwork in. I’ve got a couple of lads starting this week doing exactly the same thing, building their CVs, getting the experiences, so one day, when the opportunity comes, hopefully they’re ready for it.”

“Looking back at what I gained from being in the RAF, I think ex-military sometimes get a bit of a bad reputation,” he said. “People think that you’re extremely regimented, and like things organised, and sometimes that’s perceived as a negative.

“From my point of view, I think you have to be flexible, but the two things I’ve mentioned there – being organised and flexible – are key, in a fluid footballing environment, where things can change at the drop of a hat.

“I like to think I’m quite organised, have a plan, but again it comes back to getting the players to buy into it. You can have the best plan in the world but if they don’t think you’re genuine and if they don’t think you actually care about them, they’re not likely to execute the plan.”

“What I will say is that the lad that joined up in 2006 is totally different to the lad sat here now,” he continued. “The school of PT at RAF Cosford, where I spent nine months learning to be a physical training instructor, put me in such good stead from a teaching point of view.

“The small details of how to take a warm-up, we did that for weeks on end. From where to stand, voice projection, body position, all the minor details, they’re actually really important. A lot of people like sports scientists and strength and conditioning coaches come straight out of university and they don’t have access to nine months of intense training like that. I put a lot of my abilities down to the nine months I spent there.”

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