Ryan Fredericks: Return to group and contact training will boost our fitness
Ryan Fredericks says the return to group and contact training with his teammates at Rush Green will help West Ham United be ready for action when Premier League matches resume.
The Hammers and the 19 other top-flight clubs voted unanimously to move to Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol on Wednesday, enabling players to train as a group and engage in tackling, while minimising any unnecessary close contact.
After eight weeks of working alone during lockdown, rehabbing the shoulder injury he suffered at Manchester City in February and following the Club’s tailored individual fitness programme, and two more of socially distanced work at Rush Green, Fredericks believes the latest move is another positive step towards normalcy.
You can’t do too much ball work by yourself during lockdown, so it’s a lot better now to be able to work in groups, as you can pass the ball to each other and stuff like that
“It feels strange [to be back in training], as obviously it’s not normal circumstances, but it’s nice and it’s better than sitting on your bum and running up and down in a park!” he smiled. “It’s good to be back on a decent surface and have the ball at my feet again.
“We had quite an intensive programme, which is a nice way of putting it, as there was a lot of running going on and stuff like that!
“You can do as much straight line running and running around the park as you like, but football fitness is something different and you can’t really replicate that by yourself, so even though we’ve done a lot, we’ve got a lot of work to do to get match-fit again.
“We’ve been doing a lot of ‘football fitness’ [since small group training was reintroduced on 19 May] – a lot of the short, sharp movements you need to do during the 90 minutes of football.
“It’s not all running up and down in a straight line. There is a lot of chopping and changing and that’s where real fitness comes in and that’s what tires your legs.
“I wouldn’t say running is easy, but it’s easier to run up and down in a straight line for 90 minutes than it is to chop and change direction, run at different speeds and just get used to the ball again, really.
“You can’t do too much ball work by yourself during lockdown, so it’s a lot better now to be able to work in groups, as you can pass the ball to each other and stuff like that.”
The 28-year-old is also happy with the way West Ham is looking after its players off the pitch.
With regular coronavirus (COVID-19) and temperature testing in place, pitches and equipment being disinfected between each session and government guidelines being followed, Fredericks says Rush Green is an environment he feels safe working in.
“The protocols the Club has in place at the moment give us the best possible chance to come back as safely as possible,” the No24 confirmed.
“I can’t speak for any other club, but the measures we have put in place, with temperature testing, making sure everything has been disinfected and wearing gloves and masks mean I’d say I am in better spirits and less worried about being back than I was before [I returned to Rush Green].”