Gross: Players' work continues in summer

By SFC Media Wed 24 May First team
Photo by Matt Watson | Alek Gross

"It's a sport that doesn't stop really," explains Southampton's Head of Sports Science, Alek Gross, as he looks ahead to the summer.

The 2016/17 season might have come to an end, and the players may have departed the club's Staplewood Campus training base, but it is by no means all rest and relaxation for them.

Each member of the Saints squad is given a summer programme to follow in order to keep their physical levels up before they return for pre-season.

Gross and his team design each of them, and he provided an insight into the thinking behind them, as well as their importance.

"The summer programmes vary a little bit, depending on where they players are at in terms of the season," he said.

"Some of the boys are still playing. Some have got a little break and then they go into internationals, some go into internationals straight away, so it varies a bit.

"But the typical structure is there's a little bit of time for rest and recovery, although not too much, and then there's a block periodisation of coming back into training, where they'll do some slow and steady aerobic training and then, as they gradually get closer to pre-season, starting some more intense work with more high-speed running.

it's an all-year round programme. we need to make sure they're prepared to play.

alek gross
head of sports science

"It's really important that their levels don't drop off too much, because, if they come back into pre-season not having trained, the difference in intensity and workload is too much and the risk of getting injury is higher.

"In addition to that, they've got some strength programmes and the medical team have put together some injury-prevention sessions for each of the players as well, so they've got a pretty comprehensive workload to get on with while they're not here."

Gross explained that the programmes must also be tailored to ensure they are scientifically valuable, but also simple to carry out.

"Some individuals have got very specific ones, based maybe on injury history over the season, but it's not too specific in that we need the players to be able to do it wherever they are in the world," he said.

"Some of them will be on holiday in Dubai or Spain or wherever, so it's important we get a good mix of under-pinning science in terms of the numbers, but also need to understand they're not going to be at the training ground, so they don't have the same facilities, so they need to be able to perform wherever they are."

Gross added: "It's an all-year-round programme. As I said before, if they come in and are too de-conditioned they can't actually perform the work we need them to get done, both in terms of on-pitch technical and tactical work and also the physical load that we'll give them pretty early on.

"We play games quite early in pre-season, so we need to make sure that they're prepared to play, in order to allow them to perform, but also to ensure they don't get injured."

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