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Cobras return to pre-season training

We sat down with Cape Cobras Strength and Conditioning Coach Sherman Baatjes ahead of a return to training ahead for the 2020 / 2021 season. 

How tough has it been to keep the players motivated with regards to their fitness during their time?

The short answer is that it has not been very difficult to keep the players motivated with regards to completing their required fitness training during the lockdown period. The reason for this is two-fold, firstly, as we entered the initial lockdown period during the months of March and April, the players had technically entered their “Off-Season” period as the playing season had officially ended. This meant that they had entered a period which, under “normal’’ conditions, would have been a time of rest, recovery and initial/first phase rehabilitation of any post season injuries or niggles. This period usually lasts for 5-6 weeks depending on the commencement date of the “Off-Season’’.

Due to the lockdown we were able to afford all players the opportunity to use a full 6-week period to address the above issues as well as providing the Team Management with the opportunity to verbally (telephonically) and visually (via video chat) engage with the newly recruited players in order to ascertain and compile all the necessary information from them that we would obtain face to face under normal circumstances.

As of the 1st May 2020, the players then entered their Off-Season preparation and S&C base-building phase which they would normally do in preparation for the start of the official Pre-Season period. This did prove challenging for some as though this period coincided with the lifting of outdoor exercising for Cardiovascular purposes, the Strength aspect required a different approach as not all players had access to the necessary equipment that is usually available to them. As a result, it required the modification of their relevant training needs in order to achieve the stated training program goals, as the players had to modify and adapt that which was available to them. 

This is where I have to take my hat off to the players as they fully embraced the challenges that were put before them under the current restrictions at the time as they modified and made do with what they had to ensure that their training continued. As certain aspects of the lockdown remain in place, the challenge for all of us continues. However, through constant communication between the management and players we have been able to not only keep them up to date with the current landscape of cricket in the country, but also to keep them wholly informed of what is expected of them during this period. As a result of these clear communication channels we have been able to address most of the fears and motivation hindrances that can occur during such a unique situation that all of us and the rest of the country currently faces.         

What do the first few weeks look like for the guys when they return to training? 

Even though we find ourselves in a very unique and challenging situation, the first few weeks of the return to training Pre-Season period, will not be any different to previous pre-seasons albeit with us observing all safety and personal protection protocols as has been communicated to us by both the national government as well as those laid out by Cricket South Africa in terms of return to training requirements.

The first few weeks would see the fitness and health screening and testing of all players in order to establish the necessary training requirements as well as team and individual goal setting for this period. The players would then enter a structured period of training comprised of the requisite S&C training to achieve the established goals, inclusive of their skill-work as outlined by the head coaches. This is where the building blocks and foundations are laid for the upcoming season and the period usually lasts between 7-8 weeks, after which follows a highly skill-focused period prior to the commencement of any and all warm-up matches before the official season commences. 

While this period will be unlike any other we have ever experienced, with the challenges and obstacles placed before us being both unique and ever-changing in their presentation, I have no doubt that we as a collective will fully embrace and face all of these head-on and continue to work as hard as we always have to achieve our stated and intended goals. The players have already demonstrated their steely resolve to achieve that which had been required of them during the lockdown period and I have no doubt that this motivation to achieve will continue once the Cape Cobras pre-season officially commences.