Sheffield Steelers players will be ready to go for new season, fitness coach says

Danny Mawer believes Sheffield Steelers' players will not be unduly affected by the current EIHL ice hockey lockdown - and will be fit and raring to go if the new season is sanctioned.

Friday, 4th September 2020, 7:00 am

The league owners discussed the situation again on Wednesday, but no decision has yet been made on a full or mini-season, one which has been delayed by the coronavirus situation.

Mawer, the club's strength and fitness coach, has managed to take some positives out of the lay-off - and revealed the players in last season's Sheffield squad were the fittest in years.

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Danny Mawer top right in on ice training. Pic: Dean Woolley

"I wouldn’t say there are any complications with regards to the season starting late or potentially being shorter than normal from a conditioning standpoint" he said.

"I’m looking at it as an extended off-season, allowing players to spend more time to become as strong, robust and as well conditioned as possible."

Previous Sheffield training camp usually consisted of five days practice and then pre-season games, prior to competitive matches.

"If it was going to be a three-week training camp then that’s great," says Mawer. "And if it’s a week-long training camp we will deal with it.

Danny Mawer: pic by Dean Woolley

"We have had the players training hard throughout the off-season, so training camp is the icing on the cake, getting them in 'hockey shape' again.

"Whereas if we didn’t pay this (summer-long) attention to fitness detail, you would need far more than three weeks to prepare them for playing a competitive game.

"I check in with all of our players every few days during the off-season, sometimes more frequently than that.

"During the lockdown, gyms and rinks in the UK and north America were shut. So we ran Zoom sessions to keep the players ticking and healthy until the gyms re-opened.

"Now players are lifting three to four times per week, completing off-ice conditioning sessions and then the players back in north America can be skating up to three times per week on top of all the off-ice work."

Mawer admires the fitness levels that last season's Challenge Cup winners were able to sustain.

"Last year's squad was the fittest team that we have had in the last five years in Sheffield," he said.

"Initially we had high-chronic work loads, to prepare them for the intensity and frequency of games throughout the season. I think this was evident where we had the dense schedule from mid-November leading up until the international break.

"We would turn up and play at a high intensity each night and eventually smother the opposing team. We were relentless.

"One thing that influenced the team massively last year was the investment of the Arena gym.

"This really helped develop the hard working, high-performance culture around the team. The players have more resources and space to enable them to prepare for practices and games," said Mawer, a former Sheffield Spartans skater.

"Players were exposed to higher amounts of off-ice work throughout the season. We now have the resources to make sure players are in best condition leading into every game."

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