End of the season beckons
With less than a month now until the end of the campaign, I feel as if this season has gone quiet quickly, maybe because we have had a good season. Many clubs still have a lot to play for whether that be promotion, relegation or cup success and the length of your summer holiday can depend on that.
The Championship ends next week so clubs like Reading and, unfortunately, Doncaster Rovers will have over eight weeks off before returning to pre-season training. If you get to the play-off final and are successful, you may get only three to four weeks.
I have been promoted to the top flight before and a lot of restructuring needs to be done over the summer. The Premier League imposes a lot of mandatory procedures – for the better, mind you – such as a team doctor always present at games, enhanced training of the on-field medical staff and new anti-doping facilities.
Surprisingly, this is usually the quietest period of the season for serious injuries being sustained. Many physios will be hoping that no one picks up one in the next few weeks as it will mean their off-season may be taken up looking after players’ injuries.
It is essential for staff and management to get a break from the game in the summer. Teams can be playing between 60 to 70 games per season, with half of those on the road with many days and nights spent in hotels. On average, a player will get at least one injury per season, and get a period off from that routine, but spare a thought for the backroom staff.
These days, there are many rehabilitation centres all over the world that teams use to send their players to in the summer in order to continue their rehab in a different environment. This can break the monotony of going to the training ground and give the player an extra boost before returning in July.
The most popular at the moment are in America and Biarritz in France. In the UK, there is a rehabilitation centre based at Lilleshall, with places funded by the Professional Footballers’ Association. Players are residents and have intensive treatment. Rehabilitation sessions last all day, Monday to Friday. I have sent players there is the past and many get fed up after a few days, although there is a nice pub a few miles away that keeps some of them happy!
The latter part of the season is also a tense time for those out of contract in June. These players are desperate to play, to impress and to attract interest. The power of incentive is amazing as I see many players willing to play with injuries now but who, six months ago, would complain it was too painful to play.
Mind over matter also comes into play when the team is fighting for success. Players jostling for selection, wanting to play in the big games, are strong incentives for them to play on with niggles. Many will play with an injury knowing that they may be dragged in over the summer for treatment.
Just hope it doesn’t backfire on them in July, when their sedentary summer is over and hard work starts once more.