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Skitty On The Pre-Season Start

25 June 2016

The medical take on the pre-season programme

Shrewsbury Town’s new look squad has been back hard at work in pre-season training for a couple of days now, under the close eye of physio Chris Skitt and the club’s fitness department.
The club employs a very scientific approach to pre-season these days, using technology and statistics to improve the fitness of the squad.
And Skitt said this approach has been benefitted this season by new technology being made available.
“We have got the GPS units this year,” he told ShrewsWeb.
“This will allow us to open up a whole host of different analysis which we can use – from running speeds to distance covered – so there is no hiding place for the players when we can look at what they are doing and actually show them that they might be spending too much time trotting around and they might lose the high intensity speed running that we really want as it lets them work at an explosive level. 
“It is an educational thing to allow the players to understand a little bit more about how we want them to perform.
“What we are looking at is being very analytical with what we are doing this year. 
“We are getting a lot of facts and figures and really getting some base line data to see where the lads are at. 
“It helps us gage where to start our pre-season – we obviously have plans in place but we just tinker that as needed to make sure they are getting the best treatment and fitness possible to get them where we want them to be for the season.”
Back in the day, players were known to return from their holidays overweight and unfit. But Skitt said that part of the game has changed and players tend to look after themselves much better in the off season.
“Gone are the days where they come back overweight by two stone and we have to get it off them – they’ve all had a comprehensive off-season programme and they have all been given target weights to return at so there is very little room for manoeuvre for them coming back overweight,” he said.
“When they go away we like them to have a bit of a rest first and foremost but also think about getting back into things so they can be at a level to get cracking in pre-season.”
The players returned on Thursday, when lots of body measurements were carried out including fat percentages and weights.
They were then put through their paces with power testing exercises and bike exercises.
“This year we are going to take a whole host of different variables – from power to agility to speed – and calculate all these factors which gives you their level of fitness and then we can monitor that through the season and improve them in the areas we think they can improve upon,” he said.
“I like to do a lot of our fitness with the ball. At the end of the day they are footballers not marathon runners so our pre-season will reflect that. 
“There will be times when they have to run without the ball and there will be lots of intermittent running but on the whole there will be a ball at their feet for the majority of pre-season.
“For them it starts now but we have been at it a good few weeks now with the preparations for the return, the testing and getting them through the pre-season hopefully fit and well.
“We have had plans from the back end of the season for specific players we knew were in already and ones we wanted to get in. We will just tinker with it as and when we see fit to add or reduce a bit of workload.”
Ultimately, Skitt’s aim is to get every player through pre-season injury free and upto fitness, allowing manager Micky Mellon a full squad to pick from when MK Dons visit Greenhous Meadow on August 6.
“I am so lucky to have a brilliant relationship with Andy and the fitness department – we work together on this and it is very much a planned out scientific approach where we gradually increase the workload,” he said.
“Our aim ultimately throughout pre-season is to avoid any injuries and to provide the gaffer with a full squad to pick from as we get into the season.”

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