Chris Hughton opens his 'training tips' section of the Members site being explaining the thinking and structure behind our pre-season programme...
First and foremost it is a case of liason and communication between the staff because what we always tend to have when we return to training is lads at different levels. We have had the Irish lads, plus Steffen Iversen, who came back a week later than everybody else because they were involved in international games - so their start was different to the one taken on by the other lads.
The objective is to put together a programme that is, as much as possible, going to avoid injury and offers a progression into harder work as opposed to going bang and straight into it.
It has to be that progression and then, of course, taking it into games. The big difference these days is that you are now into games quicker than we were a good few years ago. This is perhaps testament to fitness levels now and maybe the work we do with players.
The hard slog...
People may expect that the traditional pre-season of hill running and Army assualt courses are a thing of the past. I wouldn't say we have seen the end of them as they do certainly have their value.
I think, however, that they have been substituted by a different type of approach. Generally most clubs would get into football work much quicker now than they did in the past. I can remember going into pre-seasons where you didn't see the ball for a week or ten days.
As regards to hill runs and army camps, they have some value, but there has been a change in the direction of pre-season training.
Short sharp drills...
It would be fair to say that if I look at the distances that we run - we don't tend to just run real long distances. It has been substituted by an equal amount of work, but in shorter, more intense periods.
A big part of the reason for this is that players are fitter now - I think so. Generally they come back with a better fitness level.
Don't lose it in the first place...
With the modern players being more naturally fit than maybe in years gone by, they tend not to lose their fitness over the holiday period.
We bought ours back for a week midway through the holiday, which was very much a top-up. Sometimes, within two or three days of coming back, you get the feeling that a lot of these lads could go straight into a game.
They wouldn't be what we would regard as physically right, but you get the feeling that they could. That being the case you feel you don't need to do the sort of running that was common in the past.
We can be a bit more scientific about it as, with coming back for the middle session, we make sure the players don't lose their fitness in the first place. In the past you would have the player that literally wouldn't do anything over a six or seven week period - that doesn't happen now.
We bought ours in, most clubs would have some sort of programme to give to the players and would rely on them to do - and probably could count on them to do that.
Nobody wants to be left behind come pre-season and they players are very conscious of keeping themselves ticking over.
Thought process behind arrangement of pre-season games...
It is very much a case of upping the tempo as you go through the programme of pre-season matches. The Stevenage game was more of a training game and the weekend games at Wycombe and Oxford allowed the players to each have, more or less, a full game.
It is again all about progression, Norwich play at a higher level, while we're not entirely sure what we will encounter out in South Africa - although we expect them to be difficult games.
We then come back into two high quality games against PSV Eindhoven and Sporting Lisbon - games where we would like to be approaching a peak, but not quite. The peak can wait for day one of the season.
Some players though will need two or three games in the league to get into any sort of stride, but everyone is different.
All we can do, bearing this in mind, is structure pre-season as appropriately and as correctly as possible. We feel that we will peak at the right time and hope we have got everything right.
Be back soon...
I be writing for you again in the forthcoming weeks and, in my next training column, I'll attempt to give some tips on how Saturday or Sunday morning pub or club teams could go about preparing for the new season.