Saddlers put through their summer paces...JON Whitney has once again proved his value to The Saddlers’ coaching set-up by developing a summer maintenance programme that will ensure the players return to pre-season training in the best possible shape and also aid injury prevention going forward during the campaign ahead.
Based around the Functional Agility Strength Training (FAST) concept that he has developed, it is a strategy that has worked well for us in recent seasons and looks like bearing fruit again this time around.
“The players have really bought into what we are trying to achieve,” beamed Whitney. “It’s all based around a strong work ethic, something that we certainly have in abundance here.
“During the planning stages, we reflected on the Maintenance Programme that we followed last year, and whilst it was a success, we’ve made a few tweaks here and there to allow us to be bigger and stronger this time around.
“As well as getting out there and doing the work, I want to teach the players about the philosophy behind it all so that they have the knowledge and understanding about what they are being asked to do and the benefits that they will gain from it.”
The Maintenance Programme started with the Regeneration Phase, where the players had an initial two-week rest in order for the body to recover from the stresses and strains of the season just gone.
There then follows a series of 11 runs, specifically designed to prevent de-conditioning, which increase in intensity and lead to the start of pre-season training.
"We’ve now completed four of the runs and earlier this week the lads had to come into the Training Ground for various physical and body fat tests. We had a gym session and then did some field work (the video of which can be seen on Saddlers Wall).
“The fifth run takes place on Friday and then there will be progressive Tuesday/Friday runs up until the beginning of pre-season training.
“We work on the basis of ‘do less and gain more’ whereby there is less volume to the work but it is more intense.
“It is designed so that the lads can go straight into ball play and match specific work at the start of pre-season, which, in turn, will put us ahead of our competitors.
“There is a lot of emphasis on body position and injury prevention; we want to improve the players technically on the pitch and the FAST zone work that we do ties in with how we want to play.
“It’s a multi-pronged attack of high-intensity training in short bursts.
“The players follow the programme away from the club, but it has been good to see a number of them come into the Training Ground on the days that I am in to do their work.
“On top of the regular Maintenance Programme, certain players also have their own personalised schedules which they follow in addition and it’s good to see how many of the lads are responding to the work.
“There have been some developments to the gym at the Training Ground and we’re looking to improve the conditions and environment all of the time so that we can move things onto the next level.
“Sports science is so important in the modern game and I am delighted that this club is embracing it.”