TYRONE Strength and Conditioning coach Jonny Davis admits to being taken aback by the passion and dedication that the senior squad have for their sport – even during this prolonged lockdown spell.
The former Ulster Rugby S&C coach joined the Red Hand set-up in the off-season but has found little difference in terms of attitude and focus from working daily with professional athletes to amateur Gaelic footballers.
Davis liaises closely with the medical team at Garvaghey in a wide remit, with injury prevention a major part of his brief. He stated that so far he has relished his new role.
“It’s a pleasure to work with Tyrone, to work with Mickey (Harte) and the dedicated bunch of players that are there.
“They’re very ambitious, and I wouldn’t have joined if I didn’t think I could contribute to improving their knowledge of themselves from a player’s point of view.
“The desire and the appetite that they have for training is very impressive.
“In most cases I have to rein them back. It’s not the volume of what you do, it’s the quality, and it’s important to ensure that you get that performance come the weekend.
“It’s been great to get to know them, get to know the culture and learn how it differs, see the passion that’s there for the game, and the support locally.”
Despite the current restrictions due to the Covid19 pandemic, Davis reveals that the squad have sought to maintain their S&C schedule as much as possible from home.
“I have been getting individual programmes out to the players, so they can carry on their strength programme and their conditioning programme, to ensure that when things do start back, that they have that level of preparedness to cope with initially training and then playing again.
“You can do that through phone calls, video calls, messaging, photographs and they’ll send those in to the WhatsApp group, and guys individually will get in touch with any questions and queries.
“Maybe that may be to modify the gym programme, because not everyone will have access to a home gym. Most of the guys will have some form of resistance training equipment, so you just tailor the programme to suit the needs and the equipment that they have.”
Davis states that he tailors the individual programmes to cater to the specific requirements of players.
“You have guys like Colm (Cavanagh) who has been around for a long time, and as a result of that the body has a few miles on the clock, so you modify the programme to suit his needs.
“Then you have others who are still at university, and their needs are different from the likes of Conor Meyler, Padraig Hampsey, Darren McCurry, Niall Morgan or Mattie Donnelly.
“Mattie and Cathal McShane are both coming back from injury and they are at different stages of their return to training.
“Some players are on their feet at work all day, so they have different needs, so it’s a two-way communication, so if they are feeling particularly tired or sore from the weekend, there’s communication feedback, and we can quantify the demands of training.”
With all top-level sports in a state of paralysis right now, players are having to adapt to these unprecedented times. Davis believes that even when the restrictions are eased, it will still take a significant period of time before players will get themselves up to speed for competitive matches. He cautions that a failure to prepare properly will result in increased injuries.
“In most instances, no matter what sport it is, the off-season is usually four weeks, sometimes six weeks, and we have gone past that now.
“Of that four weeks, they would have taken two weeks holiday, and then two weeks of a lead-in programme to get them ready for week one of pre-season.
“And the pre-season would be somewhere between six weeks and eight weeks in duration. That would incorporate warm-up games, pre-season friendlies.
“In this period of time you’re going to get a lot of physical development, and in the absence of playing football, we’re working on developing the strength profile, the speed profile, the agility profile, the endurance profile.
“Whenever this lockdown period is lifted, each sport, whether soccer, GAA, rugby, field hockey, they will have return-to-play competition dates, a four-week window for teams to help them prepare.”