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Outlining our pre-season program

Sam Gastin  November 8, 2017 5:30 PM

Day one: Players vs 'the hill' Collingwood's young players returned to training on Wednesday. Watch as Stength and Conditioning Manager Kevin White discusses the challenges of day one.

It was only day one, but the footys were zipping around Olympic Park Oval on Wednesday.

Collingwood young players were back at training, bringing with them enthusiasm and energy of a group ready to welcome a new campaign.

And while pre-season training is often coupled with gruelling time trials and hard running, the Magpies will this year place a heavier focus on ball skills in the pre-Christmas training block.

“The plan for this week is to get the boys kicked in,” the club’s new Strength and Conditioning manager Kevin White told Collingwood Media.

“All of the players had conditioning programs in the off-season, but probably haven’t had a high level of kicking. That’s why you see the footy’s out on day one.”

White is no stranger to a pre-season at the Holden Centre. After having worked as a sports scientist at the club under previous High Performance managers David Buttifant and Bill Davoren, he now takes control of the Magpies’ pre-season training program himself.

Building high foundations of strength and fitness will still be important as the days and weeks tick down towards 2018. However naturally, footballers are going to want the Sherrins in their hands, and Collingwood’s players will enjoy this luxury from day one.

“The new direction I’d like to see us go will be to move into the footy stuff as soon as possible,” White explained.

“I’ve worked closely with the coaches skill acquisition coach Jamie Cassidy-McNamara to design drills which are football-related, but won’t see too high intensity or a high change in direction early in the pre-season. We’ll gradually build up.”

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Kevin White directs traffic as Taylor Adams trains. Photo: Collingwood Media.

The players White and the coaches have to work with in these early stages of the pre-season combine to create a unique bunch. 18 players in the their first to fourth years at Collingwood have begun training this week, while the remainder of the group returns on November 20.

At 26, Mason Cox is the oldest, and tallest, in the current group, while 18-year-old Josh Daicos stands at the other end of the spectrum as he begins his second season as a Magpie as the shortest player in the first-to-fifth year group.

Cox, Daicos and every other player has been carefully studied by coaches and conditioning staff throughout the pre-season, and will each have their own program to contend with throughout pre-season.

Similar to the ‘depth chart’ concept used in US sports, competition will come from within, as players in positional groups compete for the number one role in their particular speciality.

“Rather than having two running groups which is split up into talls and smalls, we’ll aim to have something like eight different running groups, in which we will drill down very individually what is required,” White said.

“An inside mid is so much different to a wing, which is so much different again to a key forward or key back. For that reason, we won’t train them in the same way.

“We’re trying to create competition amongst the players who are going for similar spots in similar divisions, rather than having us barking orders and using time trials to bring the best out of them.

“They’ll drive each to really high standards.”

One would expect the early days of pre-season would involve dusting off the cobwebs and getting into shape. This is not the case for this group of Magpies. And we have captain Scott Pendlebury and upcoming International Rules series to thank for that.

“From what I’ve seen so far, everyone looks to be in reasonable nick,” White said.

“Pendles has coaxed a few of the boys into coming in and sharpening up their skills. Last Wednesday, there was 14 or 16 players out on the oval kicking the round ball.

“There’s definitely a positive atmosphere leading into the season.”

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White leads the players up the Anderson Street hill. Photo: Collingwood Media.