Welcome to Pre-Season...
For those of you who have missed the NSW SpeedBlitz Blues boys in the Off-Season, missed the sarcastic hashtagging and banter amongst most of us on twitter and the video updates at www.cricketnsw.com.au. Here is your chance to catch up on things from our end.
So much to talk about, and with the squad all back together this past few weeks I thought it was a great opportunity to give a little insight into what is ‘Off Season’ and more relevantly, what is ‘Pre-Season’ for us. Also a few thoughts on where we have been, what we’re up to and a little interview with the smiling assassin himself – our Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coach Paul Chapman.
The ‘Off Season’ is a loose term in professional cricket these days, and for the most part rightly so. We are paid full-time; therefore it is not a seasonal sport anymore. We have around 4 weeks to ourselves, but we are expected to maintain a level of fitness and wellbeing throughout the whole break. Some of us ship of to county cricket in the UK (ie. Moises, Usman, Kato, Jaquesy, Starcy and Hughesy), some up to the Centre of Excellence and Australia A Tours (Patty Cummins, Nic Maddinson, Kurtis Patterson), some playing Internationally (Timm Van Der Gugten – Netherlands) and some don’t have a break at all – being the Aussie players in IPL, West Indies and England tours. Busy busy.
The rest of us however take some well earned rest, mentally and physically from cricket and spend time doing things with family and loved ones. For me this time has been spent particularly watching my fiancé Kim playing netball and going to the State of Origin Game Two (pictured) where the Blues got up! Go the blues! With Queensland winning the Sheffield Shield and the past six or seven Origin’s, it’s about time we got the wood over them. Hopefully this season in cricket also!
Another thing taking up quite a lot of my time has been the fast approaching day in my life which I will long remember. Our Wedding Day! Plans have all been sorted (Thanks largely to Kim I am sure she will attest to) and a lot of nitty gritties to take care of between now and August! Exciting times all around.
Pre-season for the NSW squad this year started Tuesday 12th June straight after the long weekend. The most pleasing thing and a really great sign heading in to this year is that long before that date, many of the boys including myself were in most days training with Chappo and really looking mustard to get into pre season!
Our first move as a squad when returning was a session facilitated by the great man – Australian, NSW Origin and Balmain NRL Legend Wayne ‘Junior’ Pearce. Not only does the man inspire you with vision of his career, but he is rightly renowned for his intelligence throughout his playing days which has translated into a successful speaking business with over 500 businesses and sporting teams. The day was simple. Got the best out of us. Established clear goals. And most importantly for the playing group, coaching staff and all fans of Cricket in NSW… a clear mantra and set of goals to work towards this season and beyond. One of the most inspiring days I have had in recent memory and hopefully the kick start we need to push on for both domestic titles this season.
So onto Pre-Season we came, and boy did the smiling assassin see us coming. Paul Chapman, for those of you who don’t know is our S&C coach, a slightly built man with glasses and a seriously well functioning brain to boot. As you will see in the interview below, there is theory behind every piece of running, gym, skill work that we do and we are very lucky at NSW to have him as such a great resource.
1. So Chappo, firstly how was your ‘Off-Season’ and what did that entail?
Off-season was great mate, spending a lot of time with my family and my favourite pastime of running around with my two boys.
2. You’ve been dubbed by many of the boys in the squad the ‘Smiling Assassin’. Is this with good reason, or the boys just whinging?
Probably fair, I’m sure there are also other terms used! My job is to take players out of their comfort zone in the process of gaining improvements and I love the work I do, that’s why I do it all with a smile on my face.
3. What have your plans been for pre-season? Maybe give a little insight to the fans out there the method behind the madness if you like…
From my perspective this phase of the year is an opportunity to address the physical attributes of every player to maximise their performance in the season ahead. The programming is very individualised and will depend on the players’ objectives, training history, injury history, position, current level of fitness etc. as to our approach. At the end of the day, we are looking for improvements in all players in readiness for a demanding season ahead.
4. Who has impressed you the most since returning to training this pre-season (Aside from me of course…)?
To be honest, I have been impressed across the board with everyone on return this year including you Copes. After all, the players are professional sportsman and they take their career and preparation seriously and to be successful and perform during the year they can’t afford to start from behind.
5. One more genuine question for all of the people out there wearing the parent, coach, trainer and dietician hats all at once - Pre-Season compared to Competition phase… What changes in terms of training/gym/cardio?
Typically our pre-season will be higher in volume than the competition phase as I have more opportunity and access with players than while they are playing during the year. From a strength perspective at this level, we will focus upon further maximal strength development and ways in which to rapidly develop this force and transfer this to their individual skills. Our conditioning will focus upon improving aerobic power, speed, speed endurance and repeated sprint ability. To be a bit of a science nerd we will look to develop multiple athletic qualities through the use of an undulating periodization model. For those parents and coaches out there looking for some more information about preparation, nutrition and recovery the CNSW Sports Science and Medicine Handbook which is located on the Cricket NSW website can provide some more valuable information.
6. And finally, you obviously have a great bond with our physio Murray Ryan, is it great to have such caring people in the office at Cricket NSW every day to make life fun?
Yes, Murray is a great asset to the organisation and also to me as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, as a great Physio can make my role a lot more effective. All the support staff (Stuey, Hatu, Muz, Benny) all get along well and it is a great environment with plenty of laughs.
Sessions named ‘VVO2’, ‘Yo-Yo’, ‘Speed Endurance’ etc are sometimes our worst nightmare, but really do train all our energy systems to enable us to perform come game day. These running sessions have not always been fun, but as skipper SOK says “Find your Dark place” and push through the pain! A common sight after one of Chappo’s sessions is shown below in the picture – “AHHHHHHHHH” is what we’re thinking!
Not only are we training our energy systems, but ticking boxes in other areas too. Yoga has just begun (Pictured) and for those less flexible people out there who will know what I am talking about, it is tough work but helping our bodies be the best we can be. I like the pose in the picture! That one is easy!!
Some of the things aside from running and gym work this pre-season are focused on us becoming closer as a group and really encompassing team culture. Paintball. This was our first of four ‘Fantasy Fridays’ in pre-season to finish off the week and have a bit of fun as an entire squad.
One thank you I would like to make is to the ACA Players Association. Often un-noticed and forgotten, Paul Marsh and his team are forever looking after the players – past, present and future. So thanks Marshy and the team from all the Blues Boys. We wouldn’t be where we are without you, and the support of Cricket NSW.
One thing I will attempt to finish on in my blogs this year is a quote of the week. This one goes to Doug Bollinger in a slips catching drill where we had a target of 50 catches in a row. SOK mentioned we had caught 33, and Doug replied “Only 18 to go boys!” In Doug’s defense, he caught everything that came his way! One to look out for in the slips this season.
Until next time, I’m off to find an Ice Pack and rest these skinny legs of mine before tomorrows session!