Manager Keith Hill admits the pre-season trip to Tenerife “went better than he expected” in his first interview since the squad returned from the Canary Island.
The first team spent a week being put through their paces at the T3 training facility in the Caleta de Adeje area of the island and endured three gruelling training sessions a day in preparation of the new campaign.
Hill told www.rochdaleafc.co.uk that the facilities were top notch:
“The pre-season training camp went better than I expected. The training facility was magnificent, probably the best training facility I have been at in my time as a Manager. I’m a creature of habit and I’ve always preferred to go back to the same training facility, but (Agent) Gary Hobson said he had a new training facility out in Tenerife and wow, the T3 training facility was top notch!
“It was brilliant for the players as well because it shows that we want to act like a Premier League Club. We’re not a Premier League Club, but we can try and act in the same way as a Premier League Club in preparation and in the way that we train.
“While we were at the training complex there were other elite athletes there including the Belgian Swimming Team who represented the country at the Olympics and it was brilliant for the players to engage with elite athletes from other sports.”
The players endured a week of intense training and Hill is pleased to report that they have have returned from the trip injury free, apart from Rhys Bennett who of course continues his rehabilitation from the knee injury he sustained in March.
“We’ve got everybody who went on the trip still fit, still available, ready to train and ready to play. We’ve got through the first phase of the training programme all in good spirit and all in good health. We’ve been doing some brilliant training exercises and we pushed the players to a limit that is acceptable and without them deteriorating physically or mentally. It’s up to me and the rest of the staff to gauge the physical and mental implications of what we’re testing the players with and I feel as though we’ve done that.
“We’ve had a great response from the players and it has been brilliant to be honest because they’ve represented themselves and the Football Club magnificently. The respect they showed around the hotel, the respect shown to punctuality, the responsibility with regards to the training equipment, and the respect for the other athletes and the other people in the hotel. It has been magnificent and it is what we, and the Chairman who was on the trip, want us to represent Rochdale Football Club like. That’s what we’re trying to achieve and it has been brilliant because I have witnessed the players going to Tenerife and taking ownership of what we’re trying to create and I have been well impressed.”
Hill also explained a bit about the work that went on during their time in Tenerife.
“We tested the players severely but a lot of the conditioning work has been with the ball. We’ve been working on the principle of trying to develop what we’re doing with and without the ball in possession and out of possession. There has been a lot of strategy but a lot of subliminal strategy. I’ve not been talking endlessly for hours about what we’re going to do, but there has been a lot of subliminals with respect to what we were doing in the training exercises and it has all been football specific – whether it’s possession, overloads or an 11v11 – we’ve been working on the principles of retaining the ball and regaining the ball. It’s not rocket science but there are certain implications of not having the ball and when we’ve got the ball we’ve got to be creative, so it has been brilliant and the players have bought into it.
“They’ve also been doing a lot of disguised running through football. I don’t design a pre-season where we run up hills because to my knowledge I’ve not played on a football pitch that has a hill on it or a sand hill. The more players have ball contact the better prepared they’ll be for the season and the identity that we’re trying to create.
"We want players who are happy accepting the football at their feet. I’m going to trust the players and in order for me to do that I have to develop the players and make them feel comfortable with the ball.”