Since arriving in the Netherlands on Monday morning, the team has slowly become more and more settled, creating an environment that mirrors the aesthetic quality of the calm and tranquil village of Sint-Michielgestel, where they’re currently situated.
Days commence at 8am, with the opportunity for the players to work on any injuries, whether they be from a tough tackle in training, or a long-term niggle.
All players and staff are in attendance for the important meeting at 8.45am, where coaches Rick, Chris and Callum speak to the players about the days objectives, update them on any changes to the itinerary, and instill the ethic they want to see come to the fore in the days training sessions.
At 9am it’s time for breakfast, with the delicious food served up by the staff at De Ruwenberg hotel maximising the team’s energy levels to get the most out of the forthcoming training session.
Up until 10.45am, the players have chatted and bonded, and are now ready for a relaxing cycle through Sint-Michielgestel to the days first training session.
Training itself usually lasts 90 minutes, with the aim for everyone to be back at the hotel for lunch at 1pm. Not only does lunchtime at De Ruwenberg help cultivate an international palette, it gives the players some thinking time, and the ability to reflect on what needs improving and what needs maintaining, making the afternoon training session all the more important for putting these thoughts into action on the pitch.
The afternoon session begins at 4pm, and Lead YDP Coach Chris Brown believes reflecting on the first session greatly improves the second session: “After that first session they can look straight away at what they’re doing themselves, and there’s no bigger tool. They can do the first session, and then come back and analyse it, and then go back and rectify any mistakes, and that enhances them. It’s about analysing themselves, and then consolidating it so they can improve. Rather than wait until the next day, they can go straight into it, and that’s beneficial for them and us too.”
Dinner at 7pm is high in protein and carbohydrates, usually consisting of lamb, veal, pasta, an assortment of Dutch bread, and varying species of fish. Here the players receive all the nutrients necessary to fully repair for the next day.
The final chapter of the day begins with an important team meeting at 8.45pm, and consists of reflection on the day’s successes and failures, brought to life by either a large projector or an iPad, allowing the players to watch footage of the days training matches.
From here the players get a much deserved couple of hours to do as they please, whether it be playing highly competitive games of ping-pong, equally competitive games of golf on the Nintendo Wii, or simply relaxing in their rooms with some music.
Overall the day helps the team grow stronger and stronger as a group. Ultimately, the training facilities and general peacefulness of the area can only be positives for their individual and team development on the pitch and off it.
By Daniel Edwards