Ross Dewar will have a key role to play when Worcestershire’s players report back for the start of their winter training programme this week.
Dewar is the club’s Strengthening and Conditioning coach with the responsibility of making sure the players firing on all cylinders physically when they step onto the outfield at Blackfinch New Road at the start of a day’s play.
He has been working with Worcestershire for the best part of a decade and the intensity and attention to detail of the programme the players have to follow is in contrast to when he first entered the professional game at the start of the 21st century before the advent of 12 months a year contracts.
Here Ross explains the routines on a typical match day and highlights how the work the players put in during the next two months is key in building up to that first competitive game of the season in early April in a Question and Answer session with the Worcestershire CCC website.
Question: Ross thanks for joining us. First of all just explain the routine the players have to adhere to on a typical match day.
Ross Dewar: “On a typical game day, the first day of a four-dayer, I’ll be in at about quarter past seven along with Ben Davies (Head Of Sports Science and Medicine) and prepare everything, make sure we know what we are going to be doing with the day, talk through the day’s plans, what individual players might require.
“We then get the bowlers in between eight and half past eight and they’ve got individual plans to work on, any dysfunctions they might have, and some soft tissue stuff and we just try and make them feel as good as possible for the day ahead. They will then disappear with Ben and, if they need any strapping or anything like that, it will then get done.
“The batsmen will then come in with me and do some activation work before they go and hit in the nets. We all get together on the outfield at around 10 o’clock and they all go through a warm-up with me, anything else they might me, and then we get into the football and, after that, the bowlers will be back with me for some medicine ball work, some activation work and then they will have a bowl.
“Then, if we are bowling first, that will be pretty much it for me during the day and just making sure they’ve got enough nutrition sorted so, after they come back upstairs, ensuring we’ve got some protein bars or protein shakes and then any soft issue or activation needed before they go back out and just trying to keep on top of things.
“If we are batting, they’ve got some conditioning programmes to get through and I’ll be in the gym area and they will just come and see me as and when they are required. We don’t try to put too much pressure on them because, if they’ve just got out and are in a bit of a mood, then we leave then be but then they will just come and see me.
“We don’t tend to do much of a warm down at the end of the day’s play and tend to do it the next morning. We let the body just relax so we might do some hot and cool baths, some recovery pumps, but the majority of the work is the next morning.”
Question: What does activation work consist of?
Ross Dewar: “Similar to a warm-up but we just want to go to a higher threshold. Obviously fast bowling is quite intense. We are using high threshold motor units and fast twitch fibers and it is a little bit different to just going for a lap and a bit of a stretch. We want to make sure everything is switched on with the CNS and they are ready to go.”
Question: Presumably it it about everything being geared up to making sure the lads are firing on all cylinders at start of play?
Ross Dewar: “Basically. If we are bowling first, we want the first over to be spot on and not a loosener. You can’t afford looseners these days because batsmen will jump on it and you could be gone for 20 off two overs before you know it.”
Question: Do you try and vary the programme each year?
Ross Dewar: “We try and do as much as we can to keep it fairly interesting. I’m always learning and during that process of learning there are always different things you will pick up and bring in.
“If I was still doing the same programme now as I was six or seven years ago, then it would be an issue. We are always learning. There are always some core things that need doing but apart from that, we try and vary it as much as possible.”
Question: I guess by the time the season starts, you’ve done most of the work?
Ross Dewar: “My big time is November and December. If I get that right, the rest of the year takes care of itself and then, after Christmas, we are into cricket so we are trying to make sure they are ready for that.
“The ratio from January-March changes a lot from my stuff to a focus on cricket and, once the season gets underway, cricket is obviously the most important thing. Everything I do has got to support their game.”
Question: In November-December do you work the players really hard?
Ross Dewar: “It depends what they need. Some of them might need a bit more of a soft touch around then and some need to go a bit harder. But November, more often than not, is trying to get rid of any dysfunctions they’ve got, so we work along a lot on correctives, and then we can go hard on strengthening and conditioning to get that base level.
“The lads playing abroad also have a programme and everytime we send them an exercise to do, we make sure there is a link to a video so they know what it is and we are just a What’s Ap message away from contacting them so there is no real issue there.”
Question: How much has the professional game changed since you came into it in 2000?
Ross Dewar: “People were just on six month contracts so during the winter they were doing different jobs and would do a bog standard gym programme, maybe once or twice a week, and would report back for nets, again once or twice a week, around mid January.
“They would be in full-time in March building up to when the season started – mid to late April in those days.”
Question: Do you need to badger them much or are the players self disciplined?
Ross Dewar: “Some love it, some don’t. You just need to channel their energies a bit better. Sometimes they want to do stuff which isn’t going to agree with their bodies so there is a bit of give and take.”