Pre-season, a time that is seen from all to be a contrast between mental and physical breakdown as well as success and excitement. For my first blog of this football season, I am going to look at the different views of this important time and maybe give you readers a different way to look at things.
As some of you may know, I am now in my second and final year of my apprenticeship at Derby County Football Club and this is my second experience of full-time pre-season as a young footballer.
I now can’t wait for the season to start especially at such an exciting time for this club. It’s not just that our first-team are looking to follow-up on last season and gain promotion but also that as an Academy we recently acquired category 1 status with new facilities being built and an impressive league for us to attack.
Before returning to Derby for full time training I made sure that I was well prepared physically and mentally ready for the task. This time knowing what was coming, I understood the level of fitness I had to achieve, but most of all I wanted to be better than that. With such an important, make or break year for me I know that I need to come back strong, ready to show my coaches my potential in hope for a new contract at the end of this year. But this was only the beginning; I knew the real test was ahead with gruelling runs and incredible physical testing, I know that this in some ways for most players is an anxious time.
For any newcomers to the full time training system or anyone working towards getting there, maybe someone with more experience who may not see it in such a way, getting yourself fit and ready prior to pre-season is a must. This is because even though it is not yet the season, your coaches will not just be giving you hard training sessions and tough fitness tests to get you fitter.
They are looking at you all to see who is willing to put in the hard work in their off time and then identify the ones who really want to become footballers. You don’t want to be standing out for being unfit, not just because you’ll feel worse and your footballing ability will be knocked, but the fact that you want to show everyone that this is what you want and that you are willing to work yourself to the limit in order to be the best you possibly can.
In my eyes, hard work always beats ability, and if you have already been spotted for ability then the two combined can only impress further. Because the second you walk into your club from the first day and onwards, you are there to impress and conduct yourself on and off the pitch everyday thinking about getting a new contract.
This blog has purposefully been written to give you an individual perspective of the game instead of the team aspect. The way I see it, pre-season is about individuals. Who has worked the hardest? Who stands out above the rest?
I say that because at the end of it all you don’t share a contract, you have to gain one yourself, and although football is a strong team game in a sense of match play, working together to win.
In order to make a team week in week out, not just for one year but for the next 10- 15 years, then you have to put the effort in yourself so you stand out and give yourself the best opportunity possible.