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A variety of obstacles to overcome

Chris Rush says the uncertainty of when football will resume presents challenges for the players

8 April 2020

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Not knowing when the players will return to training or fulfil fixtures again presents the biggest challenge, according to Rovers’ Head of Athletic Performance Chris Rush.

With football across the country suspended until further notice, the Rovers players have all been given training programmes to adhere to at home, in order to keep their fitness levels high during the current quarantine.

The squad have all been taking part in regular solo runs, which they can all monitor on a tracking App, which has added a competitive element to the tasks.

Rush doesn’t expect that clubs will be given time to accommodate a ‘pre-season’ period once it is deemed safe for the season to resume and so the players’ workload is being tailored accordingly.

“It’s difficult from a long-term planning perspective, because we also don’t necessarily know what the break would be between the end of this season and the start of next season,” the sports science chief told iFollow Rovers.

“Is it going to be a traditional break or is it not?

“Normally, there’d be around 12 to 14 weeks between the last competitive fixture and the next season’s first competitive fixture, which allows you to have a six or seven-week pre-season and it allows you to have two or three weeks worth of rest and then build back up.

“We don’t know if we’re going to get that, so we don’t know if we’re going to have the opportunity for rest and recovery, and that obviously presents a challenge in terms of the programming.

“So all we’ve had to do is just take the next time a game is proposed, work back from that date and expect that we’re going to have to play football pretty quickly.

“It’s unlikely that there’s going to be six weeks to have a pre-season to get yourself fit, the expectation is to probably get up and running as quickly as possible, so that’s the mentality we’ve adopted and we’ve tried to keep the programme and the work quite high for now.”

Rush insists it is important that the players keep their fitness levels ticking over, so that they can hit the ground running when the EFL does give the green light for the season to restart.

However, he believes that poses a realistic risk of players picking up injuries when their regular football routine resumes, so finding the right balance in terms of intensity will be integral to the coaches’ approach.

“At this moment in time, with the players being at home, it’s really difficult to replicate consistent football training – twisting and turning, striking footballs, accelerating and decelerating,” he added.

“So keeping their base fitness, of course we can cover that area, but their exposure to football and those types of movements is minimal and the longer that goes on, when they come back in, the more at risk of injury they are, just because if you quickly ramp up that amount of work having done none of that work, it can be quite a lot for the body to take.

“So it’s going to be a balancing act when we come back of knowing that the players should have a good baseline fitness and we can put them through fitness tests just to check that, but I’d be pretty confident with what we’re seeing on these tracking Apps that would be fine, but then just logically building up the exposure to the football work would be the challenge and knowing how long we’ve got to do that will dictate how much of a risk we’ll have to take.”

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