With Yeovil Town's position in League One almost secure, manager Russell Slade has already been laying down plans for the 2008-09 season, and the first of those is shortly to be unveiled, with the club undertaking a radical overall of the club's fitness regime.
Included in that programme is the appointment of the club's own dedicated Fitness Instructor, who has been drafted in on a part-time basis over the next 12 months, upgrading to a full time role for the 2009-10 season. The man in question is is known locally as Damien Nathan Brown, who has had a distinguished military career spanning 28 years, serving around the globe.
After holding recent talks with Russell and former RAF fitness instructor Steve Thompson, they were so impressed with his ideas that they have signed him up for next season whilst Damien serves out his 12 months notice with the military, with the aim of joining the club full time in a year's time. The club have had little problems in securing his services - Damien is a staunch Yeovil Town supporter, and admitted to Ciderspace that he was these days spending more time on the golf courses than in the trenches and wanted a fresh challenge, adding:
"The main reason for taking up the position was for the love of the club and the chance to be part of Yeovil Town's future success."
Damien has devised a training plan based around nine principles that he will expect the players to adhere to. The new training regime will be carved up the middle with Russell and Thommo taking on the five principles of Ability, Professionalism, Resilience, Intelligence and Leadership. Meanwhile our new military man will take on the responsibilities for driving home the four principles of Fitness, Organisation, Opportunity and again Leadership.
Whilst most of the nine principles are self-explanatory, Damien explained that 'opportunity' was something practiced in the military and referred to the 'window of opportunity' - being able to make the right mental decisions of when to attack and when to defend - clearly a crucial skill in military operations that he felt he could provide plenty of experience on. As for why both camps held the principle of leadership, Brown explained:
"In the military, we want everyone to be a potential leader. On the football pitch, you can never have too many leaders. We want eleven Skivos out there next season and that has to be something that we must concentrate on."
So what would the typical week entail? Damien has given us an insight as to what Yeovil Town's players could be facing next season:
"The need for a balanced fitness programme is paramount to success, this will mean varying the type and times of the training, and splitting it from the football skills and tactics, to that end, the fitness training will be carried out relaxed at the start of the week, leading to a hard session on Wednesday, and obviously becoming more relaxed by the weekend, hopefully meaning the body and state of might is at itís peak come 3pm Saturday.
It is important that we start at a base level and try to improve on it, to that end every Monday morning the players will undertake the bleep test, this will enable us to monitor the fitness levels on a more regular basis, ensuring that as the season goes on the bleep score gets higher, obviously this will indicate that a players stamina is getting better.
Variety is essential, doing the same stuff day in day out can sometimes become boring and monotonous to that end, we will bringing in bike rides, aerobics, log runs, swimming and a once a week military style circuit, the regimented styles syllabus will ensure every player knows what activity he is undertaking at what time and where. The emphasis is for the every individual to improve his cardiovascular and recovery rate, it is no good running 100 yards down the pitch if you can not get back to do your defensive duties.
On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays the players will be required to cycle to training, cars will be banned from the club during the fitness periods, we will then use the cycles as part of the training programme. I have spoken to a local business that are willing to donate 30 cycles to the club, as well as 5 tandems, these will be used by those returning to fitness, therefore ensuring no one is left out, with also the introduction of both a Squash and Badminton ladder it is hoped, that we will build individual and team spirit. The final thing I will be instigating is mental fitness, all players will be taught how to play chess, backgammon and how to do sudoko, and these are the activities we will be ensuring all players participate in, during those long coach journeys to away games."
Ciderspace's only concern was how the players might adapt to the style of a military hard man coming in and barking instructions at them and whether they might shy away from what is likely to be a hard regime. However, Damien said that stereotyped image of the military is often unfair:
"I work hard and I play hard. The hardest part will be that first pre-season run up and down Ninesprings. If they get through those early sessions they will come through as fitter players. Those players that get on my side will find that it will benefit them and their careers. The players will get to know me as a person - most people outside the military use my initials as a nickname. I am sure we'll all work together and next season bring Yeovil Town some much needed success."
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