Ensuring some of Wolves’ youngest players are at peak physical fitness as they head out onto the pitch is the job of Academy sport scientist Jess Fay.
Working closely with Wolves Academy’s under-13s and under-14s, Jess is tasked with improving and analysing every physical aspect of the players, whether that is their strength, stamina, power, or injury prevention, helping them progress into top quality performers.
“My main job is to focus on their warm ups and their gym sessions,” Jess said. “But I also monitor and analyse their maturation, session plans and heart rates.
“Each boy wears a heart rate monitor, so I will set them up with these before the start of every training session because that helps us to analyse their loads and make sure they are not being overworked.
“Throughout each week we work towards the game as being the point where the boys need to be at their peak performance. This means we might want them to have a harder day on one day and then a relaxed day after the game to give them time to recover.
“I also look at their maturation; how much they are growing, and the rate at which they are growing, as boys that are more mature might have a different programme to those who are less mature.
“We work with them on every physical aspect of the game, whether that is improving their sprinting ability, their speed, their change of direction and agility, their power, or helping them to get up and head the ball.
“During their gym sessions we try to get them as strong as possible, this way we’re giving them as much support as we can to try and prevent injuries, but everything we aim towards surrounds improving their physical performance.”
After moving from Leicester’s academy in February, Jess aims to ensure the young Wolves players first learn their fitness fundamentals before they are taught more complex training methods.
“Throughout the Academy the players are at that developmental stage and it’s our job is to get the basics right first,” she said. “If they need to improve their speed we will work on sprint mechanics, getting their body positions correct before we work on more advanced techniques as they get older. In the gym we always work on basic techniques before we start to load the boys to get them stronger.”
Part of a large team of sport scientists at the Academy who work with different age groups on a day-to-day basis, Jess said that although there is a structure in place as to what the players will be doing, each day can pose varied challenges.
“For the under-13s and under-14s, our busiest day is Tuesday as that is when their day release programme is. That is when we’ll go through some individual specifics with them, working from their fitness testing scores to make sure we focus on anything they need to improve. We set up small zones, so they can work with myself or one of the other sports scientists at the Academy to make those improvements.
“Then in the afternoon they’ll have gym sessions and take part in analysis, where they look at their clips and review what the coaches have said to them.”
Jess, who also worked with Birmingham City and Warwickshire County Cricket Club during her time as an undergraduate, added: “The facilities here at Wolves are amazing. We’ve got everything we need, which most clubs might not have, so we’re quite lucky.”
This article first appeared in the Wolves versus Tottenham Hotspur matchday programme, which is available around Molineux on matchdays for just £3.50, and also featured content with Raul Jimenez, Robbie Keane and Ryan Bennett. Back issues are available in the Molineux Megastore and online now.