At long last the ‘ites returned to training after a lengthy layoff as the UK is gripped by COVID-19. In order to give fans a brief insight into how the team is returning to action, the management team will be updating a semi-regular pre-season blog to keep everyone in the loop.
With news of the proposed start date for the league season, we started our staggered return to training across Sunday (19th) and Tuesday (21st). Thanks to further developments at the club during the off-season, and with huge thanks to the continued support by Matt, Ernie and the board, we have been able to get our hands on a set of PlayerTek GPS monitoring devices. These units will allow the management team to monitor players distances, speeds, training loads and collisions in training and matches over the course of the season. It has also allowed us to start pre-season training away from the ground, with each player being assigned a unit to take away with them for the next couple of weeks. We’re in a hugely fortunate position with our management team being able to draw on a range of different football experiences: with playing, teaching and academic knowledge’s allowing us to support our players from every possible angle. We’re certain that on our return the squad will be fresh and in fantastic shape.
Over the past week the squad have been performing a range of fitness and performance tests away from the ground in order to give us some baseline measures on how each player has been ticking over during the off-season. It has been promising to see so many players coming back in such good shape, with some exceptional scores being recorded (especially from assistant manager Jono Richardson!). The group continued this promising start over the last few days with some socially distanced testing back at the ground. This batch of tests were focused on injury spotting, prediction and prevention, helping us catalogue any potential issues and tailor individual programmes to mitigate any risks. Players were also assigned their GPS units, allowing them to upload their prescribed training sessions away from the club. With the help of Ciprian Melinte (Strength and Conditioning Coach) we will track and monitor each session. When we return to contact training all players should have met their targets allowing us to focus on getting back on the ball!
This is a huge step forward for the club as we start to introduce sport science technologies, techniques and methods that would not be out of place certainly at the top end of the national league system, if not the lower reaches of the professional football league. The trust and support from Matt and Ernie to introduce these technologies into the management of training and performance is appreciated and shows even further how much everyone wants to drive the club forward. We hope that not only does this approach to training give us the right on field developments, but it also adds another huge selling point to Sheppey United.
This week the players will be pushing themselves through an off-site training programme aiming to manage injury risk, as well as starting to return the players to close to match day training demands. Rather than return to on-site training too soon, risking early burn out and injury, we are putting our faith in the squad to manage themselves with our support. No doubt everyone will be excited to see a number of returning and new faces as we get closer to the first game back!
We will hopefully see you all soon!
Ben Franks – First Team Coach and Head of Sport Science