HAWTHORN’S playing group has entered the most important stage of its pre-season training program, according to Head Fitness Coach Andrew Russell.
After a two-week Christmas break following the club’s Mooloolaba camp, the Hawks have returned to the track and jumped straight into high intensity and high volume skills and conditioning work.
It’s such an important time for the players – and fitness staff – that Russell admits it’s now that he’s under the most pressure.
“It’s our most important block of training for the year, given that we start playing games in mid-February,” Russell said.
“We really have a block of five-to-six weeks to get these guys conditioned and ready for the season ahead.
“It’s the time of year that I lose sleep, because I know how important it is to get a big volume of training in, but also really high quality training sessions.”
Russell said the players were pushed ‘harder than they ever had been’ at a pre-season camp at Mooloolaba late last year, and had returned to training refreshed and ready to push themselves even harder.
“We’re really pleased with the output of the players and we’re really pleased with the attitude of the group,” he said.
“They’re a group that loves to work hard and they’ve shown again that they’re prepared to do the work required to start the year well.”
The group’s hard work was on display to plenty of fans at Wednesday’s open training session, when the majority of the squad braved the heat for an intense two-hour workout.
“You need large numbers on the track to be able to practice and understand the way we want to play, especially in a fatigued state,” he said.
“The game is all about executing high-level skill and decision making when they’re fatigued – that’s what the good teams do over and over again.”
With the NAB Challenge just over a month away, Russell said the Hawks were building nicely.
“We like to train in blocks of three weeks – we’re in the third week of this training block and then we give the guys a recovery period of four days away from the club to recover,” he said.
“It’s as much about their psychological recovery as well as their physical recovery – it enables them to spend time with family and friends, regenerate their energy and really produce high-quality training again for another three-week block heading into February and the start of the NAB Challenge.”