Pre-season may still be a couple a couple weeks away, but it’s never really too early to get a head start on a new season. And that’s exactly what the Union are doing as several players have been reporting for optional workout sessions at the club’s training facilities throughout the month of December.
Director of Performance Garrison Draper is the mastermind behind these sessions, making sure the guys are balancing efforts to get enough rest and downtime, while also putting their bodies in the best position to succeed come January.
“A lot of the training we’re doing right now is stuff they don’t get to do during the season,” Draper explained. “We are spending a lot of time getting strong and we are really focusing on putting heavy weights during training.”
The club has put a lot of emphasis on building strength as a way to prevent injuries throughout the long, arduous season. And as a whole, Draper would like to see the athletes come back to camp stronger than they were when they left in late October - but there is no cookie-cutter approach. Instead, Draper is focusing on the individual needs of the athletes and what their upcoming schedules entail.
“Derrick Jones and Auston Trusty will be training with the U-20 camp coming up so we will probably be running them harder, but guys like B.C. won’t touch a soccer ball until the first day of training,” Draper said.
Draper has been in close contact with at least 75% of the team throughout the offseason; with several local players popping in and out of workouts over the last couple of weeks. Players who are now abroad, like Roland Alberg, Fabinho, and Ilsinho are all receiving coaching from Draper over the phone and through e-mail.
This extra bit of training is undoubtedly helpful as the Union hope to start the 2017 with a spark but for Draper, the most important thing is how the players feel. Getting stronger is all well and good, but it’s paramount that the team reports to camp feeling fresh and alert.
“I think I would love to hear guys say they had a well-rested break and that they’re ready to come back. I would much rather hear that than ‘I have some nicks and bruises because I trained too hard in the off-season.’ There’s plenty of time for that - I would like everyone to come in healthy and we could have a good preseason like last year.”