Whitney pleased with the summer so far...THE SADDLERS’ players were back at the Training Ground on Wednesday for their first maintenance session of the summer.
Overseen by Jon Whitney, the players were put through their paces in no uncertain terms, but came through it with flying colours.
“Everyone was spot on,” said a delighted Whitney. “I was on hand to check up on how the lads have been looking after themselves since the season ended and give out any kicks up the backside that were needed.
“I’m pleased to say that no kicks up the backside were required and, in fact, the fitness levels are such that the vast majority of the lads would be ready to start pre-season training now.
“During the maintenance session the lads had to do a two-mile timed run then a one-minute endurance press-up test before they were given various body fat tests.
“To say that we are still three weeks away from the start of pre-season training, I was extremely pleased with the results.”
Each player was given a training schedule to follow whilst they are away from the club allied to daily tweets from Whitney giving them nutritional and training tips and advice.
“The lads have been following an 11-run programme with progressive intensity, which they are now half-way through,” he added. “They have also been given upper and lower body strength work to do, the type of which we will be doing in pre-season.
“I’ve backed this up with daily tweets that offer tips and advice based on where we’re at with the maintenance programme.
“I was a bit sceptical of the use of social media at first, but I am finding it a useful tool in which to drip feed the lads information rather than bombarding them with everything at the same time. Similarly they are able to quickly and easily give me feedback.
“I’m happy with where we’re at right now. I’ll see the players again in around ten days time when further progress will have been made.
“An eight-week gap between the season ending and the start of pre-season training is too long. The emphasis has to be on preventing de-training; things have moved on so much in recent years that players have to come back fit and then get fitter in pre-season.
“It’s not like it was a few years ago when players would do very little for six weeks and then turn up at a very low level of fitness for the start of pre-season. Sports science means that footballers are elite athletes now and I am constantly stressing to the players that they have to live and train in this way.
“We are lucky to have such a young and hungry group here who take on board what they are told and work hard. The fact that we have so many players already signed up this year means that we can fast-track because they already know what is expected of them and we already know what they need.”
Another shot in the arm for Whitney has been the summer redevelopment of the gym at the training ground.
“We now have a Functional Agility Strength Training gym, or FAST gym for short, which is going to be a real boost to us going forward,” he went on. “All the equipment within it is specific to football and our needs.
“It will provide an even more dynamic environment for the lads to work in and from it I am expecting an even better work ethic than last year to help us fulfill our potential.
“It’s an exciting development.”
There was another big match for Whitney earlier this summer when he tied the knot to his better half, Theresa.
“The wedding ceremony took place on a cruise ship just off St. Tropez,” he recalled fondly. “The captain of the ship married us and I was wearing an electric blue suit.
“I was more nervous than I have ever been in my life, but everything went to plan and I even serenaded my wife-to-be as she walked down the aisle, but then we hit some stormy weather and the cruise was, shall we say, rather rougher than expected!
“The upshot was that my wife spent six days in bed – but not for the right reasons!
“We came home needing another holiday to recover from it, but it was something that I will never forget and married life is treating me well so far.”