After an extended period of rest, the DHL Stormers commenced an intensive phase of conditioning training this week.
“Down time for players is as important as training at this time of year and a balance has to be found between ensuring the guys are physically and mentally rested, but are in the best condition they can be in by competition phase. We decided on a compulsory 3-week lay-off this year with a 4th week of conditioning introduction at a venue of their choice thereafter. Therefore they had 4 weeks away from the HPC and have returned fresh and amped for this tough phase” said conditioning coach Stephan Du Toit. “We will train for 4 weeks now flat out and then allow them another 3 weeks of conditioning maintenance over Christmas and New Year, with a massive emphasis on maintaining what they gained during this initial 4-week phase.”
“Our conditioning aims are similar to last year, focussing on ensuring significant strength, power and fitness improvements, but will also look to focus on individual discrepancies in athlete physical profiles.
“We completed the most thorough test battery since I started with the Stormers and will focus on improving every physical component of those tests with individual athletes. We aim to ensure that the players and team as a whole are stronger and fitter than last year and have the ability to withstand the rigours of the toughest competition in the game, for the duration.
“To help attain our goals the players currently complete 2 x 90 minute sessions twice per day, 5 days per week for 4 weeks. Not all the sessions are at the HPC. We try to get out and utilize other venues like our local beaches for cross-training, but the main focus would be a mixture of gymnasium and field sessions.
“Despite the toughness of this phase, the athletes really enjoy this training. Players compete for physical benchmarks and really push themselves to achieve. They all know competition for places is tough and that the physical improvements made now are of enormous value on the pitch into the new season. Work ethic is not an issue! It’s a great group of guys with a number of the youngsters pushing hard for spots. A number of the senior guys have teamed up with youngsters guiding them and pushing each other, which is great. Schalk Burger teamed up with Steven Kitshoff and Brok Harris today and Jean de Villiers and JP du Plessis have been training together for the whole week and pushing each other hard. The common goal is to improve and although players might be fighting for the same spot they want to see the team triumph.
“Already we have seen some impressive benchmark stats with youngsters the Kitshoff’s (Steven and Rohan) both benching a very impressive 180kg and Jean de Villiers, Louis Schreuder and Gio Aplon all running sub 5 second 40m sprints, in a head-on South Easter. There’s a long way to go, but the players are certainly giving it their all already.” concluded the fitness coach.