Preston North End’s fitness coach has crucial role to play

Tom Little’s job as Preston North End fitness coach already carried a big responsibility and that will only grow during the coronavirus pandemic.
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It is Little who has devised the fitness programmes for PNE’s squad to work through at home during the current football shutdown.

When the time does come to prepare for a resumption of the season, Little and his staff will work to get the players up to speed and full sharpness.

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What is the big test for Little and his counterparts at other clubs, is not knowing when the season will kick off again in order to be played to a finish.

PNE fitness coach Tom LittlePNE fitness coach Tom Little
PNE fitness coach Tom Little

Play is suspended until April 30 at the earliest and June or July could be more realistic to start again.

North End have not trained since early last week and are only due back on April 6 at the earliest – that date is under constant review.

In terms of the workload for players while they are at home, Little told PNE’s official website: “It is very difficult without working to an end date.

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“Coaches from any background, whether it be football aiming for pre-season or Olympians working towards the Games, they have that end game in sight.

“You are working towards peak conditioning and fitness as well as robustness, so they can withstand what they are going to have to go through in terms of the matches or their events.

“Without a definitive end point it is difficult. We also have to consider during this time, the recuperation time for the players.

“It is not just for now, but for when the season does actually end – because that looks like it will have to be shorter.

“There are a number of unknowns that we have to weigh up.”

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Little says the programmes being done at the moment combine the need to keep the players in shape but also to allow some rest, bearing in mind 37 league games have already been played.

Normally the emphasis at this stage of the season would be making sure the squad got sufficient rest between matches.

Said Little: “We have given them what we call maintenance programmes.

“That is enough to keep them fit and robust, but at the same time, they are not training quite as hard, so they are getting fresher all the time as well.

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“Your overall fitness is a result of how fit you are and how fatigued you are at the same time.

Fitness will naturally drop during this time period, because they are not training as hard, or as frequently, but we are hoping their overall levels won’t reduce too much.”

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