(Picture of first team gym, looks decent doesn't it.... wonder how many are squatting or lifting in it though??)
It was a great opportunity for me to take as I left for Manchester City and a tour around the club from the academy. Jools Ward of Manchester City FC took me around the various facilities starting on Wednesday as I saw where youth teams trained at the academy. I found the people working at the facility to be very helpful and not afraid to share information from questions I asked. I bumped into the assistant S and C coach. He took me on a tour around the fitness facilities, which are currently being worked on. He was most helpful and it was encouraging to hear the S and C language being explained in what he does with each team. (First time I've heard in football). These were mostly corrective alignment issues with most players. So simple squat patterns and stabilization of trunk helped in these areas. For a football player there is a constant movement from the hips. Jools explained the testing procedures during the in-season, constant reassessment was administered to the team players. He stated about the goalkeeper training using the counter-movement triple extension and the non counter-movement jump, but breaking down the jump to shift the hips and laterally adjust the legs to generate as much force from the ground as possible, (e.g.) from a penalty kick making that extra edge to achieve a greater power to save the shot. I found it interesting to discover these methods of achieving development of players to get the extra edge. The coaches think outside the box by looking at the detail of generating force from different areas of improvement. They also build fantastic relationships with parents and gain respect from the players, although some over-confident players can be too big for their boots. They can be difficult to tame and difficult to find out what their true potential is. For example if there is a player lifting big weight for his body weight, yet seems to be easy for him, his ego does it and seems to be a breeze. This has its pros and cons. Yes the player is relaxed and playful although he could go a lot further. Coaching these talented athletes can be a challenge. This could be the same on the field of play and that player not achieving his best. At this level a player has most certainly not made it, even in the first team the player has not made it and there is always room for learning. Unfortunately this is what stops a great player from achieving the best they can be. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great example of a worker - a grafter, a player who doesn't give up. He is the first to be for breakfast and last to leave the training field. People wonder why he looks so good physically on the pitch. His foreign culture should be mimicked through the rest of British football, as the culture of football in some areas is still traditional and not free to embrace new methods to improve performance and reduce risk of injury. My experience was enjoyable and will continue learning and developing to help out the guys ESC-NI work with.