Jon Whitney says the Pools squad are measuring up well during the first two days of pre-season training – but there is still plenty of work on the horizon for the players.
Whitney is working with the Club as a consultant, overseeing the Sports Science side of the operation which plays a key role during the opening weeks of the warm-up campaign.
The former Walsall boss has worked closely with Craig Hignett and the rest of the Club’s First Team staff to devise a programme which will deliver the lads in to the opening weekend of the new season in optimum condition.
Two days in to that work, Whitney is pleased with what he’s seen and is confident their forensic approach to everything they do will pay dividends when the big kick-off arrives.
“I am really pleased,” he admitted.
“We always have those markers that we’d like to see the lads hitting when they come back and we’re right on there and, in fact, I think they are probably a little ahead at the moment.
“That is great because it shows us that they have taken what we’ve asked of them on board and done their close season work.
“You always get a variation in fitness levels across a squad but all you ask is that the attitude is right and I think the gaffer will be super-pleased with that over the first two days.
“It’s nice to have some variety in the training. Gone are the days when you just run with a bin bag on or – like John Beck used to do with us at Lincoln – say we weren’t working hard enough if weren’t sick!
“This is probably my 30th pre-season now so we know what works and even now we’re trying to get a lot of volume in to them – I think Tuesday’s session was two and a half hours.
“We still managed to work in a lot of variation and quality – and we also incorporated all the staff too, which is important because then it’s not just me whistling all the time and being the person they hate after two days!”
Whilst there has been some running work involved, naturally, the staff have tried to mix things up and introduce some ball work to keep the lads motivated and on their toes.
They will cover great distances during the opening week of pre-season than they will over the course of a regular week in-season but Whitney says it all forms crucial preparation.
“The work is all based on some of the velocity zones we work with as part of the GPS tracking,” he explained.
“They all have vests on and we’re looking for 9,000 to 10,000 metres throughout Tuesday. They did 7,000 to 8,000 on Monday and over the week we’ll be doing just more than a marathon so we are aiming for around 43,000.
“When you compare that to during the season when we’ll be looking at them covering 26,000 – and that includes the game – the volume is much higher and then we’ll gradually bring that down over the pre-season ready for battle on August 3rd.”
One player who has stood out during the early stage of pre-season is Adam Bale, the young midfielder snapped up from Sunderland at the back end of last term.
The 20-year-old has thrown himself in to training even during the summer in a bid to report back in peak condition and it seems to be paying off for him.
On Monday, Bale covered a blistering 3,425 metres during a 12-minute running exercise known as the Cooper Test, a result which even surprised Whitney.
“It’s the best I have seen in the last 13 or 14 years,” he revealed.
“Adam Chambers at Walsall, who was on the best professionals I have worked with, had the record but Adam Bale broke it by about 25 metres on Monday – that’s not something I thought I would see.
“I thought he set-off at a crazy pace but he managed to maintain it and even managed to lap a few of the lads so that just shows where he’s at.
“He’s worked very hard throughout the summer and it’s nice to win isn’t it? Even though it’s not really competitive, you still like to be the best at everything you do and that’s what we’re trying to instil in the players.”