Ross Burbeary talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
The success of the all-action, energetic approach adopted by Paul Warne’s Rotherham United players during the 2017/18 campaign has been clear for all to see and has contributed greatly to last minute wins over the likes of Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers, but Head of Player Performance Ross Burbeary is keen to ensure that the intensity doesn’t drop between now and the League One season finale.
Speaking to www.themillers.co.uk, Ross explained some of the science behind the Millers’ notable stamina and fitness levels that have been on display this season, while adding that the club are closely working with nutritional testing experts Lorisian.
“Lorisian Laboratories are a food intolerance testing company that we're using at the minute at Rotherham,” he told the official website.
“We're doing a blanket test with all of our players and even some of our staff, just to look at food intolerances.
“We understand that we ask a lot from our players physically, both during the training week and especially on matchdays.
“We need to make sure that we're putting together a programme that supports these players through physically demanding times and by working with Lorisian, we're trying to build an individual bespoke programme to support them in their nutritional needs.”
Whilst the public perception of a footballer’s lifestyle includes copious amounts of healthy foods and a strict diet, Ross continued to add that the club are making every possible allowance to try and tailor-make the perfect nutritional plan for each player with the help of Lorisian.
“Players find it quite hard to get food down them, which is sometimes difficult after a game and we need to try and make sure that we're getting the support nutritionally into them to aid that recovery response immediately after games,” he explained.
“We see quite a lot of changes with players after games. We have some players that suffer with gastro-intestinal stress and a lot of acidity build-ups within their stomachs.
“If we're giving them the wrong types of foods and the wrong types of supplements that on an individual level don't agree with them, then we could potentially be doing more harm than good.”
The Millers are hopeful that the tests that Lorisian have performed for the club will help Warne’s side find even more fuel in the tank in the late stages of matches, in a game where fine margins can be the difference between a draw and a last minute winner.
“I think because we're so aware of the demands we're placing on these players in games, we need to make sure that whether it's a 1% improvement or a 50% improvement, we are making an improvement in some way,” Ross added.
“We're building a complete player support programme here at Rotherham and that is something we're trying to do throughout, whether it's strength and conditioning needs, fitness or identifying values and team cultures. At the minute it seems to be transferring onto the pitch.”
The hard work undertaken by the squad on the pre-season tour of Austria was well-documented, with a number of players placing on record their feelings on what they considered their ‘toughest pre-season yet’, and Ross is happy that the squad are reaping the benefits of that effort now.
“Pre-season is a crucial time for any player to be developing their fitness and that robustness that they need for the upcoming campaign.
“We worked very hard during pre-season and especially in Austria and we feel like it's night and day between ourselves and other teams in the league in terms of how much distance we covered.
“You can argue that's now been shown on the pitch. Up until Christmas we understand that our fitness won't really show because you have that level of freshness in players but after that, when the fatigue starts the kick in and the game periods start to build up, what we do start and see is that fitness starting to shine.
“The fact that we can still keep pushing with that same intensity and desire as we saw against Portsmouth and more recently Doncaster, is really starting to prove that what we've done is having some effect.”
Meanwhile, boss Warne has explained that new additions can’t be expected to be up to pace straight away due to the high demands that the Millers players are expected to live up to, a theory which Ross also believes is the case.
“The players have commented that they are coming into an environment which is demanding,” he explained.
“We train properly and with a lot of intent. The players that we have recruited have the capacity to improve physically.
“We understand that they may not have reached that potential through match minutes and high intensity programmes like we have but there is capacity for them to get up to speed. We've seen that with the medicals and the physical tests that we have put them through.”