Three matches in three days in Mulhouse. A demanding program that requires a specific design to reduce pressure and stress.

Three matches in three days. A challenge Marcet’s finest under-18s would have to come to terms with in the french city of Mulhouse. A twelve hour coach ride away, Alsace’s unforgiving cold and first-rate rivals would need nothing from the 22 journeying players but their utmost effort. Particularly in terms of recovery, both psychologically and physically speaking.

Marcet’s technical unit had prepped the outing well aware of the challenge faced by their athletes. Trainers, fitness coaches and therapists formulated a plan of action with the aim of reducing the physical and mental burden of the testing hardship that lay ahead in Alsace.

“The week before we set off for France, we scheduled more resting days than are usual and approached practice without too much physical contact”, explains Adrián Benítez. As a fitness coach, his main objective was having his players stay clear of possible injuries and conditioning them for swift recoveries. This called for the use of equipment specifically designed and acquired to monitor the level of pressure put on the players: GPS tags, contact platforms, foam rollers, protein supplements

The sports therapists’ input was centred in allaying psychological exertion. By way of the POMS questionnaire, for example; useful for obtaining a behavioural and mood profile of the player in question. The therapist could communicate with the athletes, dispatched to France, via videoconference to help them better focus the next immediate challenge.

“We’re up against RC Strasburg, Dijon FCO and FC Mulhouse. What we’re looking for in facing competitors of this capacity is that the boys leave their comfort zone and start getting accustomed to adapting to new circumstances and environments”, explains Pere Tarradellas, the primary under-18s’ trainer. “We’re going to have to distribute time spent on the pitch as much as possible”.

Ultimately, our aim in making a trip like this happen is to develop an appropriate sporting culture. In the words of Benítez, “The players need to be aware of how important it is they take care of themselves in order to recover as quickly as possible and spend as much time as they can performing at a hundred percent of their capacity. That’s why it’s so important they be football players off pitch as well as on.”

Will the under-18s have succeeded? The video above has the answer.

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