Tony’s Physical Test

IF you thought the Easter break would be a time for rest at West Ham United you couldn't be more wrong.

Despite not having a fixture this week, those players not away on international duty will be well and truly put through their paces, as the Club's Sports Scientist Tony Strudwick explains.


"Our aim this week has been to combine hard work with recovery," he revealed. "After a tough period of games during March we want to use this time to make sure the players are fresh and ready to go again through April and May.


"But it's also important for us to keep on top of their physical state, which is why we've used this week's break to do some physical testing on the players.


"Most of those tests were carried out on Wednesday - testing power, muscular endurance and strength using digital technology.


"This information will flag up any fitness issues we might have with individuals and also give us a good idea about where we are in terms of squad fitness going into the run-in.


"Alan Pardew is keen for the Sports Science department to keep on top of fitness levels and this week has been predominantly about fitness. The Championship schedule is pretty punishing, but this two week break has given us time to get some quality work in."


As usual, Tony and his team are thinking well in advance, looking at preparing the Hammers players for a tough schedule over April. And he explains that the Easter break has provided a great opportunity to refocus everyone at the Club for the promotion charge over the final eight games of the season.


"Last week in the games against Crewe and Leicester we gave a tremendous level of physical output without getting the rewards," he said.

"After that disappointment, this week has been about regrouping and refocusing for the last eight games of the season.


"Those games are going to be fundamental to our season, and our aim is to make sure we get maximum output from the players in every one of those eight games.


"It's also a good opportunity to ensure we have as many players as possible fit and at their physical peak to give everything for the Club from now until the end of the season.


"The pressure is really going to be on the players and from our point of view it's vital that we get it right physically and give the players every chance of achieving the results they need."


To that end, the Hammers management have already laid out a schedule that will take the team into April, where once again Alan Pardew's men will play three games in the space of a week against Wigan, Burnley and Coventry. It's a cramped fixture list that Tony does not approve of, but nevertheless admits the squad must come to terms with.


"I've said it before and I'll say it again - the League programme does not make sense," he insisted.


"Last week we played three games in the space of a week and then we have two weeks without a game. Then, at the start of April we play three more games in a week.


"From a player and fitness point of view it is a very tough schedule, but I don't think it benefits the fans either, because with so many games packed together it becomes that much harder to get quality performances.


"But the Championship is a punishing League, it is professional football and it's something we just have to deal with.


"It's certainly not ideal and this next period will be a real grind for the players, but it's vitally important and we've got to do it."