While the week in Spain has naturally focussed on fitness work there is another side to any summer Training Camp with club Psychotherapist Gary Bloom there to help on the mental side of pre-season.
“The mental side of it is huge, especially when the group come back together after a relatively long break” he told us after training today.
”It’s important psychologically that they adjust because they haven’t seen each other for some time. That’s why we get them to work as a group and try to get some cohesion going on.
“It's a very close group but inevitably, put any group of 30 people together, work them really hard, all living in the same hotel, having meals together all the time, there are going to be moments when people get fed up and that’s when we can smooth things over, get people working together, and make sure we are in a great place not just physically but also psychologically come the end of July.”
Bonds forged in the Spanish sun will be vital as the U’s go into another long season.
“If you have 'buy-in' to a cause then that’s great” Gary said. “If someone isn’t doing things properly then people notice, but what is really nice about this group is we have that mentality where people push each other and help those around them. That can get stronger, it’s like any muscle group, but those are the things we are looking for. Accountability is part of team cohesion.
“Leadership groups start at the top and we have some exceptional senior players here, people like John Mousinho, James Henry, Simon Eastwood, Sam Baldock and Matty Taylor; players who have played a lot of football. Speaking to some of the younger players they need those older heads around to say ‘it’s OK’ if they are struggling with the workload at any stage.
“It could be that one or two of the younger players feel vulnerable in certain moments but that’s when the experienced players help them along and say ‘don’t worry, keep going’ because they remember their own early experiences and know the frustration that can cause.
“Happily nobody has struggled too badly, the fitness levels are very high, but that team cohesion is growing with every session and I hope will continue to develop over the next four weeks especially when they start playing matches.”