It was a grey day as we set off, travelling up to Notts County Football Club. This was my first attempt at doing a video shoot - so I had made a checklist as losing battery power or forgetting to capture something would be a complete disaster...
When we arrived the drizzle had stopped and the sun came out - hoorah! I felt slightly nervous that we would be meeting the Manager of the club, plus some of the players... I needn't have worried, because as soon as we got there, we were greeted with big smiles, friendly faces and a nice cup of tea.
Notts County installed a CardioWall at their club last year and have been using it to do lots of pre-season testing on their players, along with some in-depth research.
We began by filming an interview with Damian Irvine, the club's Commercial Manager, who happens to be an ex-Australian rugby player, so he's very used to being in front of a camera. I thought it would be a nice backdrop to have the stadium behind him as we filmed.
Next, we headed down to the gym where their players train and the CardioWall is installed. We met with Pete Jarvis who is the Youth team coordinator. He told us he sees the CardioWall as a major feature in reaction testing on the players - in fact when we interviewed him, he kept calling it a reaction board.
We were then introduced to a guy called Tony Tompos, who is the Head Physio for the Under 18 players. He told us that he incorporates the CardioWall into his weekly fitness training and sees it as a great tool for upper body fitness and for rehabilitating players with lower limb injuries. The purpose of this evening was to undertake testing of the Academy players, which happens 3 times a year.
Notts County have already done one detailed study using the CardioWall where they looked at the correlation between players reaction speeds on the CardioWall compared to their performance on the pitch. It gave them a good indication of which players needed training plans to improve their fitness. They are also planning to start goalkeeper evaluations before the season using the CardioWall. But for tonight the testing involves something called yo-yo running (like bleep testing, but with intermittent recovery), counter-movement jumping, sprint testing, agility 505 then finishing with reaction testing on the CardioWall - no wonder they're so fit!
The young, enthusiastic lads enter the sports hall, and they're very quickly led by Tony Tompos to start with the testing, they split into groups and rotate on each test - a bit like circuit training but they are being filmed and monitored to record their levels. We wander around, capturing lots of great footage, of what could be the selection of the stars of the future. It was really interesting, and a new experience for me.
Two hours later, video footage and photos were ‘in the can’, and we jumped back in the car to return home, thoroughly impressed by the skills of the coaching staff and the determination of the young players. Let’s hope they have a great season. And for more news of CardioWall results from Notts County, watch this space, or rather - watch the video!