With Government advice meaning that Rotherham United’s training base at Roundwood is now no longer the location for the club’s regular day-to-day sessions, the Millers coaching staff have taken innovative measures to bring the training ground to the players’ houses.
Performance Manager Ross Burbeary is just one of the members of the club’s coaching staff attempting to ensure the current squad, who have drawn the plaudits for the their fitness levels this season, are able to stay in shape despite the UK being in lockdown.
With no definitive date set for a return to football, it is up to Paul Warne and his staff to keep his players in the best possible condition until there is but Ross took time out to talk to www.themillers.co.uk to explain that the Millers are still chomping at the bit, even without the watchful eyes of their coaches as added motivation.
"I think the hardest part at the minute is putting the reins on the lads to be honest,” he explained.
"We've got a private Strava group which we've put together with the players and we've prescribed a few weeks’ worth of running activities for the lads to complete.
"A lot of the boys are keen to get out there and do a lot more than what is asked of them. That's brilliant in one respect but on the other side, it is difficult for me to manage remotely because we don't know what surfaces they are on or which routes are available to them, whether that be gravel, trail or grass.”
The camaraderie within the Millers camp is another reason cited for the club’s success so far in 2019/20 and with Ross and co turning to online video platform Zoom to deliver their sessions for the past fortnight, he is hopeful that staying in touch will ensure more doesn’t drop over the coming weeks.
"As people may have seen this morning, we have come to the end of the second week that we've been doing all of the online classes,” he continued.
"The hardest part about all of this is the isolation.
"We have such good relationships at the training ground and probably one of the most 'together' groups that I have ever experienced working in professional football.
"We are very socially inclined to be around each other. The difficulty with that, is that without these online communities, there is only so much texting and calling you can really do.
"To put us into a virtual room full of people we can have a good laugh. I think that is the main thing, to make sure the boys are staying happy, keeping in touch with each other and seeing each other's faces - it goes a long way.”
Warne and his staff are notorious for the levels they demand from the players through the week and with 15 online sessions set as standard for the lads at present, Burbeary is confident that the Millers can maintain the tag of being one of the fittest outfits in Sky Bet League One.
"We have structured the week out, so the staff that we have at the football club probably put on about 15 classes a week,” he added.
"Players have to log in with their IDs and then they'll do sessions on strength, yoga, Pilates and stretching among others, alongside their running work.
"We do think of ourselves as one of the fittest teams in the league and we have to make sure we maintain that.
“If we start and come off the boil and have to pick the players back up then we may have shot ourselves in the foot, so if there is anything we can be at this moment in time, it is the best training team in the league.
“That's what we pride ourselves on. We want to be the best trainers regardless of where we are in the league."
Ross concluded by explaining that the uncertainty around the current pandemic is proving to be one of the biggest challenges in terms of the players’ training programmes, but insists he and his colleagues will continue to adopt an innovative approach to keep the schedule interesting for the players.
"Uncertainty is a big buzzword regarding the pandemic. I know there are bigger things to worry about in the world right now than football, but from our perspective as coaches our sole priority is to make sure that the players are maintaining fitness and health for if the season does resume,” he explained.
"We try to be quite innovative at this football club and wherever we perhaps don't have resources that others do, we try to be more resourceful as people.
"My plan to begin with is to make sure the lads are achieving their distances throughout the course of the week that we would hit in a normal week on the training ground and that they are doing the supplementary work on top of that.”