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New article on our 3rd Fitness Coach, Adam Owen


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by Thomas Jordan

HE might not be instantly recognisable to the vast majority of fans - but Adam Owen is one of the most important men in Walter Smith's backroom team.

As Head of Sports Science, the Welshman is responsible for ensuring Rangers' first-team players are at the peak of their powers.

He is charged with making sure the players are working on their fitness levels and liaises with the coaches, such as Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall.

Other aspects of Owen's day-to-day duties include making sure the players eat the right foods at the right times, are taking exactly the correct amount of fluids on board as well as giving themselves the best possible chance of avoiding injuries.

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Clearly, the days when a footballer would arrive for the start of training with minutes to spare, pull on his kit and head for the training field before getting a quick shower at the end and heading on their way are a thing of the past.

It certainly is at Murray Park anyway. Smith has joked about how pre-season sessions under him during his first spell in charge consisted of long, punishing runs to whip the players into shape. Now, he leaves that side of things to Owen and his coaches.

As football has changed, and now played at a quicker pace than ever before, so also has the way clubs operate. And that's why specialists such as Owen have become so crucial in modern-day football.

Having obtained a Sports Science degree as well as a Uefa "A" Licence Coaching Diploma, the 29-year-old has certainly put in the hours to get where he wants to be - and he is loving life at Rangers.

It doesn't take long to realise how important his role is at Ibrox and how football has progressed in recent times.

"There is always something new coming along and you have to keep up to speed with things and constantly look for way to improve," explained Owen. "Football has, of course, changed dramatically in recent years.

"Players are more aware now of the nutrition side of things than in the past. There is no doubt about it. I like to call it smart training. If you train players smart then you won't have the issues that they had in the past.

"I was over visiting AC Milan to see what they do with their players and they have a staff of FIFTEEN involved in their sports science department.

"We have made progress on that side of things every season since I've been here and I have a vision of where I would like us to get to. As well as myself, we now have two assistants.

"What we try to do is ensure we set the players targets throughout the week from the training sessions. You don't want to be working them too hard every day, but you also don't want to them not to be doing enough either.

"I work closely with the coaching staff in ensuring that the training intensity is right for the players. Some days we will aim to get a high intensity but you can't do that every day. There are sessions that aren't as tough."

Every Rangers player, from the youth side all the way up to the first-team stars, are issued with heart monitor belts before every training session and the information is then downloaded on to computers and analysed.

Body fat is also checked regularly as what the players eat, and when they eat, are vital to their physical condition and it's the same for their recovery after sessions and after games.

Owen said: "Every morning, players are hydration tested by providing a urine sample so we can see whether they are dehydrated or not. The more dehydrated you are, the more chance you have of picking up an injury. So it's all about trying to prevent that.

"We also give players questionnaires on a regular basis to see how they are feeling, if they are sore and various physical questions. The injury rates since we have come on board here have been very, very good.

"I'll also sit down with the coaches every morning before training and discuss what the session is going to consist of. Depending on how close we are to a game, or whether we have a game in midweek depends on how hard a session it is."

And what the players do immediately after matches is every bit as important as what they do prior to games.

"We have Champions League commitments which means we have a lot of midweek games and travelling," explained Owen. "That was pretty much the same during my first full season when we reached the Uefa Cup Final.

"There is more emphasis on recovery as the games are providing the players with their high-intensity workout. It was the exact opposite last season when we didn't have games.

"Straight after matches, the players will go back on to the pitch and do a recovery session, they are provided with recovery drinks, food, skin garments, ice baths and pool sessions.

"We have six or seven recovery sessions which every player will go through. There is so much more going on now at football clubs than there obviously was in the past."

Publication date 15/10/09

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/sport/displa..._of_science.php

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