Almanac Local Footy: Pre-Season Grinds are never the same it seems
I know everyone talks about the woes of Australia’s cricketers right now, and if they’re not the talk around the water coolers of the nation is usually about the A-League, or the golf, or perhaps the NFL. It’s never about the start of the grind that many call pre-season footy training. Sure every professional club has just about commenced their programs and are pounding pavements and weight rooms across their multi million dollar bases. The grind however goes on across the country, and in the Capricornia region it’s no different, and I’m not talking about the Tuesday Night 9’s competition which has a few weeks to run.
Normally at this time of year the numbers can be a little low in quantity, after all some are involved in cricket training, a few see no sense in busting their bodies in 30 degree heat at 5:45 a couple of times a week, and some have already made their minds up that they’re happily retired, at least until March when a call to arms come to fill Reserve Grade only to see them pushed into the top side. Personally work commitments see my involvements in the last few years limited to cameo appearances towards the end of sessions except for 2 week window in November when I’m not reporting on how pathetic our batting is or when I’m pounding pavement with thousands of others.
I’ve also seen enough pre-seasons to know how different each coach can approach it. There have been many who have gone for the 2km road run time trial around the block hoping that more than 3-4 players can break 9 minutes (my best was a 9:13 last year). Some opt for the hill sprint approach, looking for either a 30 minute block or a set of 10 up reasonably short steep climbs. Some have even altered the length of the time trial, where instead of a 2km road run they have instead gone for 7 laps around the oval which is just over 3km based on a 440m circumference. Then there were long shuttles where you had a number of markers set out over a 100m straight, where you might do 7 of the full length, 6 at 80 metres, 5 at 60 metres, 4 at 40 metres and 2 at 20 metres, then jogging back to a certain point (about 1 mile in the old language). It’s the prospect of these types of runs that makes some decide to wait until later when it’s all too late to get a decent base.
Then there’s what happens after these runs. This year has been a little different in the 2 sessions I’ve been able to attend. At this stage there hasn’t been a lot of endurance running, with a focus on conditioning instead through short sharper exercises. Very little ball work has been done at this stage, in fact I reckon I haven’t kicked the ball other than to myself any more than 30 times. Plenty of handballs have been disposed of though, both with left and right hand. It’s a far cry from certain coaches that I’ve had that has basically tried to repeatedly drum in how he wanted the ball and players to move from end to end in a set play situation. Many coaches don’t introduce the longer drills until January in any case, so that’s no concern anyway. I just hope that the focus on getting physically ready doesn’t come at the cost of having our skills go down the drain.
In terms of cross-training, apart from those who have a hit on the weekend I know some people on a Monday Night are actively involved in something known as TRL, which is basically a hybrid of touch football and rugby league. This year I’ve also been roped in to fill numbers for a Sunday Afternoon social basketball team based on a “battle of the codes” type competition. The Rockhampton based footy teams have embraced it, as has one Rugby Union team and a couple of Rugby League teams. The hot weather and the lack of air conditioning doesn’t help the standard though, particularly when you scrounge together 5 players, 4 of whom are 25 or younger. I certainly don’t feel like Leroy Loggins who kept playing at 42 years of age, but at least it gets me outside and allows me not to have to watch the carnage of our national cricket side.
With all that in mind, I’d like to hear from the readers out there just how your pre-season works, particularly the sessions before Christmas. Is it basically running? Is it a lot like the professional and semi-pro clubs with even less time to fit everything in? Is it worth having a pre-Christmas block considering the season doesn’t start until April? Are there any stories that are worth repeating here? Are you the type that stays retired until March?
As for me, I’m trying to take as much of a break from running as possible for 6 weeks until after the New Year. On January 2 my training begins for the Comrades Marathon in South Africa, which is actually a little more than 2 marathons in distance. I won’t be planning to play footy until June at the earliest, trying to give myself the best chance of getting a finishers medallion which is as hard earned as any in the world of sport. This training I’m sure at least will help me in the long run, but for me I know my biggest test is coming on June 6 2017.