30 players from this year’s NLD Under 18s squad attended a Strength and Conditioning workshop at OutKlass Fitness, East Drayton on Sunday 11th May. The day was planned in military style with one group working in the gym from 1000-1200, all of the players and parents attending a nutrition seminar from 1200-1300 and the remaining players working in the gym from 1300-1500.

The NLD coaches made the decision to source some S&C advice for several reasons:

  • The current squad contains a lot of players in the U17 bracket and they will be giving away a year in the competitive matches.
  • The players in the squad had indicated a need for some additional work but didn’t have the expertise available to them.
  • This year’s squad contains 36 players and in some positions there is no separating players in terms of skills – the coaches hope that with some fitness advice given players will now work hard over the summer and selecting a squad to play in September will become easier!
  • If physical gains can be made then it is hoped that NLD players will get more recognition from the Midlands selectors in the graded matches. A perfect example of this is shoulder strength amongst the forwards and it’s now hoped that the lineout for example will become more explosive showcasing our players ability.

The focus of the sessions in the gym was movement and the players were shown a wide variety of activating stretches to assist lifting techniques, reduce injuries and make the body stronger on the posterior and anterior axis. It also destroyed the uneducated myth that you have to lift heavy weights to become strong as all of the exercises demonstrated saw the lads lift their own body weight or a barbell weighing no more than 20kg. This was vital in the education process as players can now replicate these movements throughout the summer without having to join expensive gyms.

Luke Staton of OutKlass commented “it was fantastic to see young lads hungry to learn and we were very impressed by their work rate, professionalism and desire to better themselves. We were asked some great questions by nearly every player who came to the gym and the parents were equally responsive in the nutrition session.”

Every player who attended the workshop will receive a full programme from OutKlass with pictures showing the techniques they practiced and suggested session plans to link the lifts and sessions together.

This was the first time that NLD 18s have been involved in a workshop on strength and conditioning and the coaches are keen to stress that this was to address a particular need from the current squad. It is hoped that the experience will be replicated in future years but aspiring NLD players are reminded that your own strength and conditioning work should be done where possible and at trial stages the coaches will be looking at your skill sets and game understanding rather than how strong you are!

Nathan Smith
NLD 17/18 Head Coach