CORK CITY'S strength and conditioning coach Leon Foley is looking forward to the season ahead and believes that the hard work that the players will do in the off-season will make the team a much stronger unit next year.
As well as designing a team off-season programme, Foley has also provided players with their own individual programmes and will monitor the players over the coming weeks.
“We are all focusing on promotion next season. Football is constantly changing," Foley said. "Training sessions now are more designed around conditioning for the game rather than just running players for the sake of it.
"So, that’s why it’s important that constant communication amongst the coaching staff is important. Again, it’s all about getting players fit for the game rather than just being able to run 5k.
"It’s a good time for aerobic and speed training. Lads will then have a good foundation going into the season.
“We have a general programme that the group will complete, and from that then there will be individual goals as well.
"There will be programmes designed for lads to improve on their weakness. Of course, some lads' body fat might go up a small bit over the off-season but programmes do get a message across that they shouldn’t go up too much.
“With the programmes; we tried to put in two gym sessions a week as well as maybe two or three pitch sessions, but they would be split up into an aerobic session one day and speed training the other.
"The sprints would be designed to replicate a game, so the sprints would only be around 15 metres at a time.
"They would be short distances at the beginning and we would gradually build that up into recovery runs towards the end of the offseason into pre-season.
“Some fellas' goals will be to get bigger and stronger, others will want to work on injury prevention, so with them we will be working on their movement and their flexibility.
“The players were given just over two weeks off before the programmes were sent out.
"It’s important that the players rest for those two weeks, even for their mental health. It’s a long season with training every day and other factors. It is hard going for the players.
"We have to ease them back into it. It won’t be too hectic straightaway. It’s a long off-season, so we have to be mindful of that.
“With pre-season, our aim is to get as many games as possible in. It’s important that we do that to give us the best possibility of having a strong start.
"We are going to be back in January, and the aim will be to play an in-house game the first week and try to organise games against other teams from then.
Foley remained with City last season after completing the final year of his work placement for his degree the year previous. He had spent a year travelling up and down to Waterford with former City player John Kavanagh.
City aren’t the first football club Foley has worked with, having spent a year with West Ham United’s academy.
“Joe Gamble actually brought me in. I was in college in Waterford. I was travelling down in the car with John Kavanagh who was playing with Waterford.
"Joe was assistant with Waterford. Joe ended up travelling with us and I was telling him I’d spent time working for West Ham academy and it led him to asking me to come to City with him when he was here last year.
“The clubs in the UK send around adverts for internships for sports science, strength and conditioning students for a year.
"They tend to send them to London or UK based universities, but I just sent emails to all of the heads of sports scientists at clubs, and luckily West Ham got back to me.
"I went over for two interviews and they offered me a position for them. It was a fantastic experience.”