Bleacher Report UK has teamed up with Liverpool FC and Warrior to take you inside one of the world's most storied and successful football clubs. Each day this week we'll be bringing you exclusive insight from a member of Liverpool's staff, culminating with manager Brendan Rodgers on Friday.
Wednesday's interview subject is Liverpool's head of head fitness and conditioning Ryland Morgans. View his club profile here.
Bleacher Report: Can you give us an overview of your responsibilities at Liverpool and your typical working hours?
Ryland Morgans: All aspects of fitness, conditioning and the science to support practical delivery. We work on strength and power development in the gym, recovery modalities, and nutritional strategies to underpin everything.
B/R: How closely do you work with Brendan Rodgers? Does he have a clear view on how to prepare his players and which areas are most important?
RM: I work very closely with Brendan, discussing the fitness of the players, conditioning aspects of training, preparation aspects of training. We also look at where players are physically, in relation to upcoming matches.
B/R: What's an example of a typical pre-season session to build the kind of endurance and sharpness you need in the Premier League?
RM: A typical pre-season training session would involve a 15-minute warm-up, 10 to 15 minutes conditioning practice (strength, resistance, speed, reaction etc.), 10 minutes of technical practice, two 10 to 15 minute sessions of possession practices and then some small-sided games—usually for around 20 minutes.
B/R: Do you create bespoke plans for players? If so, could you give us an example of two contrasting approaches you've used with current Liverpool players?
RM: Yes, all players follow an individual plan off the grass. Each player is different, so elements such as age, playing position, injury background, strengths and weaknesses, are all considered when putting these plans together.
Some players will need to improve their aerobic capacity and ability to continually reproduce high-intensity actions over 90 minutes. Other players will need to improve the rate at which they can produce force—which makes players look quick when on the grass.
B/R: Speed is key in today's game. Is it possible to take an established player and make them quicker over 10 yards?
RM: You can achieve gains from these players, but they will be marginal. We work on making players robust enough to deal with EPL competition, recover and go again as quickly as possible. Marginal gains in speed can be resultant of several factors. Depending on the player and background, will we focus our attention on a few of these factors.
B/R: How do you deal with players getting older? Would somebody like Steven Gerrard be working to a different schedule now than he did when he was 25?
RM: We have ways of modifying players during the training week which still allows us to ensure the player has had an appropriate conditioning stimulus, while ensuring they have recovered and are fresh for the forthcoming fixture. Training methodologies have evolved over time, and so has the support structure such as sport science and fitness, therefore I would imagine Steven is now following a different periodised week than he would have followed when he was 25.
B/R: Finally, how did you come into this profession and what advice might you give to somebody who wants to follow a similar path?
RM: I gained as many academic, coaching, strength and conditioning and coach education qualifications as possible and then practically applied them in semi-professional football national youth squads and coach education programmes. I was then fortunate to be offered a role at a League Two club, after presenting on the UEFA A license. I then progressed through League One, Championship and then the English Premier League.
My advice to anyone wanting a career in sports fitness would be to always continue to gain qualifications and experience, and never be afraid to adapt.
This interview was presented by Bleacher Report UK in partnership with Liverpool FC and Warrior.
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