Get to know Huddersfield Town’s First Team and Academy staff
- ‘Know Your Role’ continues
- Today we look at First Team Performance Nutritionist Dan Martin
- Dan looks after the squad’s nutritional needs
With the coronavirus currently postponing Town’s fixture list, we’ve decided to introduce you to some of our First Team and Academy Staff – today we speak to the Club’s First Team Performance Nutritionist, Dan Martin!
Dan joined Huddersfield Town last season, having made a break into the industry in 2010 with Wakefield Trinity Rugby League Club (previously Wakefield Wildcats).
Now, along with doing two days a week at PPG Canalside, David works with professional jockeys in horse racing and a Formula 1 team during the week in order to gain an insight into nutrition across the sports industry.
So, what does his role at Town entail?
“I work with the players both collectively, to help educate them on optimal nutrition, and individually to help work on their specific goals such as developing lean mass or reducing fat tissue for example.
“I’ve also started doing some work with our Academy to develop a curriculum and nutrition provision for our younger athletes and their parents to help with their athletic development.
“With regards to performance my job is to promote strategies to ensure we’re optimally fuelled for training to make sure the players are able to put their best in to each session, to make sure we recover properly to get the best adaptations out of each session, and finally to make sure we’re fuelled for performance on match days.
“As well as that, I need to ensure the food on offer to the players (and staff!) each day at the training ground is suitable for what the work looks like on a specific day.
“What we eat on a Thursday versus what we eat on a Friday in preparation for a Saturday fixture is very different!”
Within the role, meetings, catch-ups with players and planning nutrition strategies are all part of an average day for Town’s First Team Performance Nutritionist.
“I tend to arrive at the training ground for 7.45am. Some of the guys who live more local will have been in since 7am and are usually finishing up their morning workout.
“We have a Performance Team meeting at 8.30am to go through the day and identify what each of the players will be doing.
“I’ll have breakfast around 9.15am and after that the players will start arriving. I tend to use the morning before training to catch-up with any of the players on a one-to-one basis and give them anything they need such as supplements or just general advice.
“After training I will catch any players for more in-depth stuff if needed. In the afternoons or during training I tend to work on the Club’s nutrition strategy, planning menus and developing some education resources, as well as having meetings with other staff members.”
The busy nature of Dan’s days also ensures that he works with a variety of people whilst at the training ground.
“The two main people I work with are the Performance Coaches and the Head Performance Chef. The coaches and I often need to work hand-in-hand to support the individual needs of many of the players.
“If we have a player with a need to develop strength and some size, it needs a coordinated plan between us to manipulate their training and nutrition.
“Similarly, without an excellent chef and catering team my knowledge is useless! We are lucky that we have a couple of excellent performance chefs who turn the nutritional needs of the team into high quality, great tasting foods.”
Dan’s busy weekly schedule across multiple sports provided him with a new challenge when he first came to Town in 2018/19, but it’s one that he has embraced since.
“Although I have many friends in different roles that work in professional football, my role at Huddersfield Town was my first in the sport.
“Having experience of several other sports, I know first-hand that every sport has its own cultures, nuances, and ways of working; no two sports are the same!
“So, my first challenge was learning the culture of the sport and understanding what is ‘normal’ in football.”
Having settled into footballing life, Dan insists there are many positives to his role at the Club – but which one is his favourite?
“Seeing people improve.
“That could be seeing a player grow in confidence as their understanding of nutrition improves, helping nutrition ‘click’ for someone where it has previously been a challenge, to witness them being proud of something they’ve knocked up in the kitchen, or delivering good news to them that their fitness test scores have improved based on their hard work in training and diet.
“Attending matches and experiencing the electric atmosphere on game days and during the Manager’s team talks is truly fascinating, but for me it’s the cherry on top.
“I gain most fulfilment from helping people develop.”
If the sports science industry is something you’re working towards, Dan has some words of advice for you!
“Work hard. Say yes to any opportunity that comes your way.
“Even if you’re unsure if you know how to do it, take it on and figure it out, it’s the best way of learning!
“You rarely get asked twice in professional sport. Have fun, and most of all enjoy the journey.”