As the AFL navigates an unprecedented fixture crunch with four rounds taking place over two and a half weeks, there has never been a more important time for recovery.
Players across the competition are facing a slew of four-day breaks which presents a number of challenges for club fitness and high-performance staff to strike a balance between maintaining high training standards and ensuring players are as fresh as possible.
SUNS High Performance Manager Alex Rigby said the SUNS were prepared for the period for a number of reasons.
A young list demographic plays some part, but the SUNS have also trained in this scenario throughout the pre-season meaning it isn’t an entirely foreign situation.
“We’ve obviously had to adapt some of our training regimes around the shortened turnarounds,” Rigby told SUNS Media.
“But we’ve floated through a number of different schedules through the pre-season period and had different examples of different shorter turnarounds between training sessions.
“So it’s business as usual for the most.
“Obviously the training demands and the time on the field has been a little less but we’re keeping it pretty simple through this period.”
Recovery has become a big focus during this period, with the club utilising extra facilities at Gold Coast-based Rigs Recovery to aid in the process.
Rigby said there were a number of aspects of a player’s recovery so it was important to ensure they were well-educated on how best to help their body.
“Recovery’s pretty simple, getting a good night’s sleep usually is pretty handy as a starting point.
“So education to the boys, especially the younger boys, around recovery in the early parts of the week is really important to set your week up.
“The mental refresh and the mental recovery is equally as important.
“So bringing a really positive mindset to this period is the most important and is something that we’ve trained over not only this season but also the pre-season period.”
The SUNS will aim to keep the AFL and reserves players on a similar training regime where possible, but Rigby said each player also had their own customised program best-suited to their needs.
“We’ve obviously got a number of different programs rolling at the moment with different players on different schedules depending on where they’re playing and what they’re doing,” he said.
“Tailoring that to the individual is important.
“Each player will have a different goal through the week whether that’s on the field, in the gym or in the swimming pool.
“Obviously keeping those high standards throughout the whole program is really important.”
The SUNS take on St Kilda on Thursday night before a six-day break until Round 11 followed by a four-day break into Round 12.