“During the week, it’s all out. Every week. No rest,” Whites forward Sam Greenwood told cameras for No Days Off, a Whistle original YouTube series which puts a spotlight on the dedication of young athletes.
The series features exclusive insight from head coach Mark Jackson and physical development coach George Bell into the way they work to prepare the Under 23s players to compete.
Alongside tailor-made gym programmes and thorough training drills - “constantly repeating, repeating free kicks all the time,” says Greenwood - the players are deliberately placed under physical and mental stress during Leeds’ famous ‘murderball’ exercise.
“They have to endure that intensity and that type of play throughout training sessions,” Jackson explained. “So that when you go to match day, it becomes easier. Living that day-to-day helps them massively.”
“Intensity helps us so much,” Greenwood agreed. “It’s made us a better team.”
Joe Gelhardt, who has undergone a noticeable physical transformation since joining the club during the summer window of 2020, has also reaped the benefits of a fierce training regime.
“It’s the latter stages of the game, the last twenty minutes,” Gelhardt said. “When we’re feeling fine, and you see the opposition going down with cramp and whatever - that’s when you get a push and you’re like ‘we’re going to run all over them.’
“That gives us a big edge.”
“You’ve got to be better than your opposition,” Gelhardt continued. “It’s one v one so if you don’t get the better of your man, then you’re going to let the team down.
“It runs down through the club. That’s the philosophy, and that’s what we’re all sticking to.”
In interviews for the No Days Off series, both Greenwood and Gelhardt confessed to being much fitter than when they first arrived, as training demands met by the young players are matched by total lifestyle commitment beyond Thorp Arch, with an emphasis on recovery, sleep and nutrition.
Players are required to send pictures to nutritionists and meet daily weight goals in order to optimise their body composition and Gelhardt explained how making small changes, like swapping fizzy drinks for water, had been challenging but ultimately worthy sacrifices.
“You can’t go out drinking or eating rubbish food that’s going to make you tired or give you a disadvantage in training, because you’ll die out there with the lads - they’re all machines.”
“It’s a mentality thing. You’ve got to stay on it.”
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