First Team Strength and Conditioning Coach talks to htafc.com
Huddersfield Town’s First Team Strength Conditioning Coach Dan Hughes is enjoying his first pre-season with the First Team and told htafc.com that he has been pleased with the start the players have made.
Hughes was promoted from his role within the Club’s Academy during the summer and along with new Head of Sports Science Al Stewart has been working with the players since their return last week.
Hughes had worked with the First Team at the end of last season though, and told htafc.com that his transition into the set-up had been a smooth one: “I spent time in the First Team set-up last season and gained a lot of exposure and experience as a result. I worked with the players on their strength and conditioning, which has made my move into my new role much easier.
“My role has become more specific this season though, and with Al (Stewart) coming in we have developed a good working relationship. I have concentrated on the gym work with the players, whilst Al has run the fitness sessions on the grass. I have supported him during those sessions, looking at the players’ technique and condition.”
Al and Dan will work together to improve the players’ condition, but he also outlined the differences between their roles.
“I met Al during the summer whilst the players were away on holiday and we planned what we wanted to achieve during pre-season,” Hughes said. “He is very professional and has a lot of experience working with elite players having worked for a number of clubs. The players have taken to his methods and are clearly responding.
“As pre-season continues the players will split up into groups and Al and I will share the workload. Also, we will start to individualise the players’ training to help improve on specific areas.
“We will use the results of the testing to create individual programmes. My responsibility is to implement the individual programmes to improve on the weaknesses that the tests highlighted. We will aim to make the players stronger and quicker through load work in the gym.
“I have also taken the lead on the nutritional side of things in terms of what the players eat and drink on a daily basis,” he added. “I have looked at their dietary needs and have planned on what they will eat when they go away to Portugal. That will continue during the season at PPG Canalside and when we travel to away games.”
Hughes was speaking after another double session with the players at PPG Canalside and he has been impressed with their attitude since returning.
“We are all very pleased with the condition that the players have returned in,” he said. “As a whole they look pretty good, which has been reflected in the testing and the training that we have done. Their attitude and work ethic has been good and they appear to have looked after themselves over the summer, which is of course what we expect at this level. I am looking forward to seeing where we are in six weeks’ time.”
He went on to explain how the first few days of pre-season have gone: “We did two days of testing and there is still a little bit more to do this week. When we got the players on the grass we wanted to gradually ease them in, rather than making them do straight line running from the start. We didn’t want to run them into the ground. It is about tuning them back in and getting their movements going again. We introduced the footballs on the first day to get the players going through the movements that they would in a game situation. We mixed the fitness drills with football based exercise.
“It keeps the players engaged and interested and in my opinion is the way forward and certainly a shift from past pre-seasons.”
Looking ahead to next week in Vale de Lobo, Hughes believes that working with the players to improve their recovery after exercise will be vitally important.
“There are few double sessions throughout the week, but it is important that we take the climate into consideration. We will try and train first thing in the day when it is cooler and also in the evening; it is important that we work at appropriate times. Additionally there will be a number of gym sessions during the week, on top of the two games that we will be playing.
“Working with the players to help with their recovery will be very important. If they don’t recover correctly they won’t adapt and risk picking up injuries and niggles, which we want to work to prevent.”
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