An update on pre-season for the Under-18s
Mark Robinson has put together detailed pre-season plans that include a game against Norwich City as he aims to build on a hugely promising campaign for the academy.
Our Academy Head of Coaching is striving to devise the best strategy to bring another crop of talented players through after Ben Harrison, Will Nightingale, Ryan Sweeney, Tom Beere and George Oakley all progressed into the first-team set-up.
Friendly matches include a game at Norwich City on Saturday, 11 July, and a match against Tooting & Mitcham’s first-team on Sunday, July 26. However, a varied plan for pre-season also includes speed and strength fitness sessions at the Bounce gym in Wimbledon, a tough seven-mile run at Richmond Park, and his squad pitching in at the second stadium work weekend in July.
Mark Robinson said: “I have tried to mix it up in terms of our match schedule. Norwich City are a well renowned academy as they won the FA Youth Cup two years ago and it will be a really tough test. We have games too against privately-owned academies that have had players progress and earn contracts with professional clubs. We also have a match against Tooting & Mitcham and they will select a mixture of first-teamers, trialists and a few of their academy boys.
“When I plan a pre-season schedule I look to include technical, tactical, physical and social/psychological aspects in the programme. Obviously, there is a big emphasis on the physical side of things because it is pre-season, but what you are doing is laying the foundations for a successful season.
“It is therefore very important to work on bonding the squad together and their mental strength as well as laying strong foundations for how you are going to play. The individual technical and tactical development comes during the season and James Oliver-Pearce (Senior Professional Development Phase Coach) will be monitoring what needs to be worked on during pre-season.”
In recent years Mark has made a point of getting his squad involved in the annual clean-up weekends and meeting the volunteers who do so much for the club. This pre-season will be no different and his squad will be carrying out jobs around the ground on Saturday, 4 July.
“We have made a habit of doing this in the last four or five years,” added Mark. “Quite a few of them will be aware of it as they have been here for years, but some of the squad will not know about it. It is important for young players to see the efforts put in by our fans and what sort of club we are.”