Sheffield Wednesday: Why pre-season training is all balls under Carlos Carvalhal

Carlos Carvalhal on the training pitch
Carlos Carvalhal on the training pitch
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Long gone are the days of gruelling cross-country treks and players turning up well overweight.

Clubs, nowadays, expect footballers to look after themselves over the summer break and report back in for pre-season training in tip-top shape.

Ross Wallace is a fan of Carlos Carvalhal's pre-season training regime

Ross Wallace is a fan of Carlos Carvalhal's pre-season training regime

Pre-season can be a hard slog for players, who have to strictly adhere to individual training programmes throughout the off-season.

But it is a necessary evil to shake off the summer rust.

Ross Wallace believes pre-season has “drastically changed” in recent years.

“Some teams still do the running up and down hills but pre-season is so different with the sports science and medical stuff now,” the Owls winger told The Star. “You have to get a good balance.

Wednesday players feel the heat as they return to training
Thursday 5th July 2001

Wednesday players feel the heat as they return to training Thursday 5th July 2001

“Some managers still like to do the old hill and track runs and mix it in with ball work.”

After enjoying a few weeks away with the family, Wallace kept himself ticking over in the gym over the summer.

“I think everybody would have liked more time off but after a few weeks you come back from holiday and you get itchy feet,” he said. “You just want to get back playing football again and get that first two to three weeks of pre-season over.

“You start to feel a lot better about yourself when the friendlies kick in.”

Sheffield Wednesday back in pre season training in 1999

Sheffield Wednesday back in pre season training in 1999

It was a week ago Wednesday’s squad returned to pre-season and the players have been put through double training sessions in the searing heat.

“Everybody has come back in good condition and trying to find their touch again,” said Wallace. “We are trying to get the legs going quick as we want to get off to a good start this year.”

Wallace and company have not had to contend with runs through the streets and hills of Sheffield.

Boss Carlos Carvalhal is a big believer in putting the players through high intensity workouts using the ball.

Sheffield Wednesday players given plenty of running in pre-season training - 6th July 1987

Sheffield Wednesday players given plenty of running in pre-season training - 6th July 1987

Wallace, who came through the ranks at Celtic, said: “Carlos’s philosophy is to do everything from your running and fitness work with the ball.

“It is good for the boys because it takes your mind off running when you have the ball at your feet.

“I’m a technical player so I prefer it when the balls come out.”

The Owls go to Alfreton in their opening warm-up match tomorrow night, kick-off 7:30pm.

“Everybody is buzzing to be back and looking forward to the new season,” said Wallace. “You are trying to get the legs going so you are peaking when the season starts.

“The guys who didn’t play as much last year will be looking to impress in pre-season and looking to get into the manager’s thoughts.

More pre-season running

More pre-season running

“The ones that played will be trying to keep their place in the team.”

Carvalhal’s men will be seeking to make a strong start to their Championship campaign when they face Preston North End on Saturday, August 6.

Wallace said: “We have not started badly in the last two seasons but we have been up and down. If we can win three or four games on the bounce early on, it will give us some momentum.

“The boys are looking sharp and have got the experience and we have players who are coming into their peak who have played the last few seasons. They will be looking to crack on.

“We have a good blend in the squad. We have the team to do well. It is just about putting all the bits together.

“We know we have finished really well in the last few seasons so that gives us a lot of confidence.”

It promises to be a competitive second-tier, with Sunderland, Hull City and Middlesbrough aiming to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt. Aston Villa, Birmingham City and Wolves have also splashed the cash.

Wallace, 32, said: “We have to be realistic. There are some other big clubs in this league. Just because we want to finish higher than we did last year doesn’t mean we are going to achieve that.

“I think there will be a lot of teams who will be competing for promotion next season.”

Wednesday players working up a sweat in 1999

Wednesday players working up a sweat in 1999