Fitness

Shamrock Rovers: Laying the Foundations

Pre-Season is the Perfect Starting Point

When we set off for our pre-season tour to Portugal to compete in the Atlantic Cup, we knew that it was time to get to work. This was the beginning of our season, and although we weren’t there to play competitive matches it was the perfect opportunity to fine tune our fitness, build team morale, develop our tactics and get in to the right nutritional and recovery habits so that once the 16th of February arrived and the season officially started we could hit the ground running.

When you hear ‘pre-season’ you immediately think of ‘running’, and lots of it. As footballers we cover a lot of distance during a 90-minute game and often in short bursts of acceleration. In order to replicate the demands of a full game, we put an emphasis on high intensity interval training (HIIT) as opposed to the traditional cross-country may have focussed style training that players on 10-15 years ago. The rationale behind HIIT sessions is their ability to enable us with a similar level of intensity in the 90th minute as we do in the 5th minute, giving us an edge on opponents who may not have that same sharpness.

With such a gruelling schedule and the demands that playing at this level puts on our bodies, it is difficult for us to add heavy fitness sessions in to our training during the season. Therefore, most of our fitness work is built in January so we can maintain it throughout the season. Part of this endurance is getting into the right recovery habits early on so when we play two games a week, we are well prepared and know the best ways to allow our bodies recuperate. The fundamentals remain the same – eat and sleep well and the rest will follow.

Maintaining a good diet is hugely important. As we cover such large distances in games and long practice sessions combined with gym sessions, it can be difficult to design a targeted sports nutrition and hydration program to fulfil individual needs. Nutrition programs are implemented according to the players’ training and weight goals as no two players will be the same. We benefit hugely from complementing our meals with Herbalife24® Rebuild Strength. Supporting immediate and sustained muscle recovery, this provides additional protein that our muscles need to recover which is hugely beneficial.

Achieving peak performance on game day is highly satisfying. If you are working hard and recovery is up– less aches and pains – it is because you are complementing the tough fitness sessions with the right recovery program.

This is especially important during preseason when we spend vast amounts of time on the pitch getting in sync with one another. Staying injury free is therefore paramount in keeping us on the pitch – allowing us to develop as a team. Building a good rapport as a group will give us the best chance of making a run for some trophies and this is only possible when our muscles recover and the right measures are taken to prevent injuries and avoid the physio room. We have put an emphasis on working equally hard on stretching, recovery and injury prevention in order to reach our highest genetic potential. Taking Herbalife24® Rebuild Strength has helped me to have little physio and stay close to the action – and that’s the most important thing for a footballer.

Ultimately, the pre-season was designed to get us into shape and give us the best chance of winning. Good training habits and eating habits are important but getting into the habit of winning is our main goal. Our hope is that by playing great early games we can get the fans on our side, get Tallaght Stadium rocking and bring home some silverware later in the year!

– Sean Boyd, Shamrock Rovers football player