The Crystal Palace squad are into their third full day of their pre-season tour in Switzerland, with the team having flown in late on Saturday. As the players change their routine from the usual schedule at Copers Cope, we asked Scott Guyett exactly what happens on tour, why clubs find them important and how the trips have changed in the Head of Sport Science and Strength & Conditioning’s near-10 year tenure in south London.
First of all, he says, the players begin with recovery.
“They’ve had their first full week of training which is always a big hurdle for us as sport science staff and medical staff,” Guyett begins, sandwiched between workout benches as the team follow his schedule in the gym next door. “That first week is key. If you can try to get everyone through that first week it’s really, really important.
“[Last week,] we trained Monday and Tuesday, had a recovery session on Wednesday and then trained Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, on the back of the three days of training, they were doing a recovery session. They’ve got the bike, a little stretch and they go to have a splash around in the pool afterwards.
“When you go away on tour, you’ve got games whereas last week we didn’t have any games to work around. This week, the training won’t be as intense because we’ve got the two games where we want the lads to get their fitness.”
While pre-season focuses heavily on returning players to the level of fitness required to deal with the intensity of the Premier League, as the years have progressed so too has players’ professionalism and commitment to staying in shape.
“It’s quite common for players to come back in very good shape. They’re all good pros and a lot of the lads were playing internationals in the summer anyway: Patrick was away, Wayne Hennessey was away, Christian Benteke was away.
“We’ve currently got Wilfried and Cheikhou away so the lads are in good shape. They get checked-over on the first day they arrive and anyone who isn’t in good shape will have some sort of intervention programme put in place.”
Thankfully, Guyett adds, that’s not at all common at Palace.
But pre-season tours are an important, common element in preparing for the ever-nearing start to a league season all the same. For former AFC Bournemouth defender Guyett, though, there is more to the trips than time in the gym and stadium.
“It’s a change of scenery,” he explains. “The pre-season six weeks can become a little bit of a slog for the boys so it’s an opportunity for us to take them away to a different environment and for a little team bonding and playing against opposition we don’t usually play against. There’s no real science behind it or anything like that, it’s just to get away.
“It’s a good time for the lads and the staff to get together, build those relationships and get some good training into them.”
Well placed to comment on all aspects of Palace’s tour, Guyett has been with the club for nearly a decade and has seen it develop significantly in that time.
“My first tour funnily enough was with Dougie [Freedman] when he was manager. We went to Nigel Mansell’s hotel in Exeter and looking back now - and I’ve done quite a few tours - it’s probably one of the better ones we did.
“That particular year, we went down there and had good training sessions. They had a lovely golf course on site, the training pitch is right next to the hotel so there’s no travelling to and from. That was probably one of the best pre-season tours we’ve done.
“They [the squad] were good. We had a really, really good group of leaders looking back. They played a huge part in getting the club to where it is now and I still speak to a few of them. A great group of players back then and it’s similar now: we’ve got a great group of players. Now, obviously being in the Premier League those pre-seasons in Exeter are no longer and it’s now Switzerland and America and so forth.”
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