When I started out I can remember my long break at the end of my season. There was about seven weeks between the end of the season, and pre-season beginning.
The next year, I remember, it was six weeks of a break, then five and four and so on. Things changed as football developed and progressed with sports science and football got faster and the need to be fitter increased.
At Stenhousemuir, the players are now away from the club until June 23 and they have all been given specific training programmes to follow, but I’ve insisted they take ten days to clear their heads before they begin.
The days of a player doing nothing between the full-time whistle that ends one season and the first session of pre-season are gone, but it’s important there is a break and a rest and recuperation. The players here at Stenhousemuir have day-time jobs as well as training twice a week and games on a Saturday. It’s a big commitment and they work incredibly hard at training, so it’s importnat they have a switch-off, but not too long.
We ran fitness tests before they left this week and we’ll run the same when they return to assess just what they’ve been doing over the summer. I have trust in them that they’ll work to them and come back to pre-season ready to go. Doing that benefits everyone. The less time we have to focus on aerobic activity and conditioning, the more we can develop and focus on them as a player and the way we want to play.
It’s tough, but the rewards can be seen at the top level for those who do put the work in, who do take care over the summer and who do make sacrifices, the financial rewards can be extreme.
The squad when they do return for pre-season will have a bit of a different look about it with a few players moving on and I’m hoping to add some new faces over the next few weeks as well as arranging games and preparing the sessions for the season ahead.
Stenhousemuir has been there, or thereabouts for the last three seasons, and it’s important that we now use that base to progress and rather than be relying on a last-day scenario, we want to be in control and holding our position as the season comes towards the end. That’s the aim and we’ll still be working full-time hours to get there.