“The key to ensuring players recover from and are then properly prepared to tackle the replay within three weeks is a recovery plan agreed and adhered to for all team members,” he says. “There are a number of key practical measures to have in place.” Here’s the Hennessy checklist:
“Establishing physical and emotional recovery is vital between the drawn game and the replay,” he says.
“It should be the main focus of the first week after the drawn game. Recovery will have started, believe it or not, in the weeks before the drawn game. A tapering programme will likely have been in place for both teams where the volume of training, practice and general activity will have been dramatically reduced compared to the preceding weeks.
“Recovering emotionally is centred on getting back to a normal routine and players best achieve this by going about their daily routine and sleeping in their own home.
“Often, micro recovery strategies such as cold baths or contrast baths after match play are taken by team players while more sophisticated recovery strategies such as whole body cryotherapy — such as that used by the Lions Rugby squad — are also now becoming popular.”
“We know that increasing sleep by one hour per night in the week leading into the game will result in better performance on the day and also in better recovery following the game.
“While extra sleep will also be very important in the weeks after the drawn game, other factors will come into play. Recovery following the drawn match will probably take between six and ten days depending on a) how well the players tapered before the drawn game b) how well they slept c) how well they return to normal after the drawn game and d) their type.”
PLAYER TYPE AND MONITORING
“If a player is a speed type, fast and quick, then he will take longer to recover from a given game than the player who is not so fast.
“Again while all players should get extra sleep in the days after the drawn game, the speed player will also need a little more time to get recovered. His recovery and that of all players can be easily monitored using a number of simple tests such as the counter movement jump test. It’s best used when the team strength and conditioning coach has built up a profile of the players’ performance over the preceding year. It will tell the S&C coach when the player is back to normal fitness.”
TRAINING AND PRACTICE
“Given the three-week turnaround, training in the post-game week should be light. In week two though, practice should be intense yet shorter in duration than in the build-up period. Players who normally do strength training, and most do now, should also get one to two strength training units in the middle week period.
THE FINAL WEEK
“Sleep is once again emphasised and a normal daily routine continued.
“Each team will have their own established practice and training schedule which will very likely consist of short duration sessions with players leaving the pitch feeling fresh.
“Also, nowadays it is unlikely that a player will be consuming alcohol as we know that delays recovery and blunts the ability to perform.
“Finally, instilling self-belief and confidence is as much part of this period as the physical recovery and tapering approach. Many team successfully use motivational techniques in parallel with many of the above strategies.”
— Michael Moynihan