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Interviews

INTERVIEW: If we're not assessing, we're guessing

31 May 2016

Strength and conditioning coach Lee Fearn on the induction process

The official website team were given a unique opportunity to watch new signings Joe McKee, Nicky Adams and Russell Penn go through a series of tests as part of their introduction to the club last week under the watchful eye of Strength and Conditioning Coach Lee Fearn.

We spoke to him after the testing session had been completed to find out a bit more about what he hoped to glean from the exercise.

“We’re trying to look at all of the different components of a player’s fitness,” he said. “We look at his aerobic and anaerobic capacities, the way he moves and his power levels. 

“A number of tests are used to help us to gauge that but it’s never done to catch anyone out. We’re just very aware that footballers are athletes for 52-weeks of the year and gone are the days where they can spend their summer drinking and eating.

“They can relax and switch off a little bit but they know they have to come back for pre-season ready to train at optimum levels. They definitely can’t use pre-season to get summer out of their system, so this process gives us a head start with the new signings we make.”

“The other good thing with this procedure is it means we get to know a little bit about the player,” he explained. “We get to see where their strengths and deficiencies are and that points us towards what they need to work on. Essentially we have a five-week time period which allows us to prepare players in the best way we can so they can integrate quickly with the rest of the group.”

“The reason we do these particular tests is that we have a saying at this club, which goes ‘if we’re not assessing we’re guessing’ and it’s served us quite well,” he commented. “We like to monitor everything we do, from the work on the training pitch to the gym work and the other fitness tests we do.

“We get a baseline with the players from the moment they walk through the door and we’ll repeat it again at the start of pre-season. We’ll do it again a few weeks later and we should see that the work we do with them will lead to improvement. 

“The players also get to see the results and they can then see the benefit of it all. That helps them to buy into the strategies we have. If we don’t see any improvement it alerts us to the fact we need to be trying something different with that individual. It’s a long term process and it’s one which has brought us a bit of success in terms of improving fitness and reducing injury levels within the squad.”

“As far as the summer programme goes we have the same principles for everybody,” he explained. “I think that’s the same across all clubs because we all want our players to be faster, stronger and fitter. It’s not something you can complete in a few weeks, or even in six months, so what we try to do is progress our work season on season.

“Any new signings we bring are expected to fall in with our philosophy so it’s important that we tailor the general programmes we have on an individual basis. It could be that one player is stronger in certain areas than others so that’s where we individualise their work and ensure we can meet all the targets we set them.”

And on the importance of first impressions, he said: “You do learn a little bit about the player in that first hour with him. That’s no bad thing and it’s actually part of the job. 

“You have a dressing room full of lads and there’s no way every player will have the same personality or need the same training regime. Every one of them will have their own nuances and differences and that’s all part of the challenge. 

“From the first moment they walk through the door they’re being assessed and you can start to understand a bit about them from their posture and the way they talk to you. The good thing here is that the manager only ever signs players of a certain character anyway, and that makes our job that much easier. They come here wanting to better themselves from the first minute.”

United PlayerHD subscribers can see an interview with Lee Fearn now. Click HERE to go to the PlayerHD platform. Follow the same link for more information on United PlayerHD, and to subscribe.

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.

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