Ashley Jones on Planning, Programming and the Quadrant System in Rugby

Early in his life, Ashley Jones had aspired to become a professional rugby player, but a shoulder injury derailed him from becoming an elite-level player.

That didn’t stop him, though.

Ashley continued to realize his love for rugby and sports by getting into a training role. He went on to earn a degree in Physical Education and committed his life to training and coaching.

And over the past 25 years, Ashley has worked with basketball teams, rugby leagues, and rugby unions at club and international levels, guiding teams such as the New Zealand All Blacks, Canterbury Crusaders, and Newcastle Knights.

In addition to his role as a coach, Ashley is also a writer who regularly contributes to EliteFTS. In 2016, Ashley became the recipient of the NSCA Professional Strength & Conditioning Coach of the year Award.

Ashley joins me today to illustrate what it means to be an educator first and coach second.

He explains what his ‘Quadrant Management System’ is and how he incorporates it into training.

He discusses the difference between ‘neural,’ ‘metabolic,’ and ‘mechanical’ exercises, and describes why he trains athletes in different exercise categories.

And last but definitely not least, he highlights the role of culture and values in athlete development and underscores coaching’s humanistic aspect.


The more you educate your playing group, the greater program compliance and buy-in you get. – Ashley Jones


This week on the Physical Preparation Podcast:

  • Ashley’s career path from physical education teacher to coaching and his first break in basketball
  • The difference between rugby league and rugby union
  • Ashley’s coaching philosophy and how he gauges progress
  • How coaches can influence athlete behavior across different aspects of society
  • The Quadrant Management System and the relationship between player buy-in and trust
  • Integrating the ‘degrees of freedom’ concept to Ashley’s Quadrant Management System
  • How long it takes for a player to get to the fourth quadrant in the Quadrant Management System
  • How Ashley delineates exercises between ‘neural,’ ‘metabolic,’ and ‘mechanical’ categories
  • Why Ashley exposes his players to three different exercise categories
  • How Ashley made a player fall in love with weight lifting
  • The most challenging parts of managing a team of athletes
  • The role of slow progression in injury prevention
  • The purpose of primer sessions and how Ashley uses them to maximize team performance
  • Ashley’s advice to young coaches and how they can differentiate themselves in the sports industry
  • Converting from American football to rugby
  • The dangers of metrics-focused coaching and the roles of culture and values in rugby


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