Break in the weather sees the Heat shine through

A combination of the generosity of the weather gods and the hard work of the ground staff at Sport UNE allowed Saturday’s Northern Heat session to go ahead as planned. The playing fields were in outstanding condition despite the month of heavy rain, and the day’s storm held off until the very end of the session despite rolling thunder for the last hour.

For Alex Woods (Glen Innes) in particular, this was the slice of good fortune he needed as he was able to show his wares on his return from a broken finger to claim the last spot in the program for 2021/2022. This rounds out the program numbers to 42 players selected across the two age groups.

Overall, Saturday’s session was the best one of this year’s program to date as the players worked extremely hard across a range of activities. Starting with the yo-yo test there were excellent results achieved, the highlights being an 18.4 amongst the Under 15 squad and 20.0 amongst the Under 17 squad.

Under 15 squad toughing out the Yo-yo test

“The record for 18 year old players at the national Draft Combine is a 22.4 so this just goes to show that our players have the athletic ability to compete with the best in the country. Our role with the Northern Heat is to continue to develop this athletic ability whilst also improving the skills and footy IQ of the individuals,” said Paul Taylor, Community Football Manager.

Following the testing, players undertook a gym session with Strength and Conditioning coach Matt Pine who previously worked with the Sydney Swans for eight years. This session was a real eye-opener for the Under 15 squad, where the vast majority have never been exposed to either running or strength programs before, whilst the Under 17 group learnt a valuable lesson that more weights don’t necessarily mean more progress.

Players learnt that correct technique is key to avoiding injuries

The two groups also undertook a footy specific session where the two focal areas were moving the ball out of stoppages by hand, and working as a defensive unit to repel attacks and work the ball out of the back.

Paul Taylor said that the quality of the work completed by both squads was of a very high standard. “This was the first occasion that we had the full groups together without the distraction of a large group of players using the session as their selection trial. This really helped the players to focus on what the coaches were asking of them and we achieved a higher level of intensity than we have in the previous sessions.

“The players are starting to see that they need to step up to the challenges of playing a more advanced style of footy that they’ve only previously seen on TV before.”

The program breaks now for the impending school holidays and players will be expected to complete their running and strength programs on their own. Further yo-yo tests are planned for the first session back so players know they need to step up and do the work to show their commitment to bettering themselves as footy players.