The introduction of additional dynamics to the preparation of the Trinidad and Tobago senior men’s team by head coach Dennis Lawrence is being seen a boost by members of the squad as this country looks ahead to the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup in June.
Team captain Khaleem Hyland, speaking following the 1-0 defeat to Wales on Wednesday in Wrexham, complimented the work done by fitness and performance specialist Sam Huggins and performance and match-analyst Kaita Hasegawa of Everton FC.
Aside from the use of the GPS Viper Pods and Heart Rate monitors which is used by the Team, Huggins approach to the physical preparation of the players has been a welcomed addition to the team. Huggins’ role includes but is not limited to warm ups, mobility, speed sessions, aerobic sessions, anaerobic sessions, conditioning games, cognitive skill development, hypertrophy sessions, strength sessions, velocity based sessions, agility, hydration monitoring, recovery sessions and post game training. The list can be bigger or smaller depending on the requirements.Huggins who has worked with Swansea City FC, explained, “The role of fitness coach, sport scientist, strength and conditioning or performance coach can vary from sport to sport, country to country, and even club to club.
“The way in which we (TTFA Senior Men’s) approach the role is directed towards improving our specific game model, which is ultimately ‘how we want to play’.”A game model is far deeper than purely formations and can be broken down into the key and sub principles which are applied to specific moments of the game (attacking organisation, defensive organisation and the transitions between) and this gives us clear direction within our training methodology and can also directs our analysis of performance, which is essential as the game is the ultimate litmus test.
“The Gaffa (Lawrence) has created our specific game model around our key players which we have within the T&T set up, as we look to put them into a framework which highlights their strengths and nullifies the weaknesses as individuals but in essence this more so applies to the team as a whole raising us to a greater level of collective performance,” Huggins continued.
“This allows me to apply the basic or corner stone principles of physical development and performance with more specificity, a greater affect on our game and the scoreboard.”
Huggins has been the Welsh National Teams Athletic development and physical performance coach for the Boys U-17s, U-19s and the Women’s Senior, U-17 and U-19 teams. He has also served as the Cardiff City FC Assistant Academy Athletic Development Coach from 2008-2010 and Head of Academy Strength and Conditioning from 2010-2012. Between 2014-2017 he worked as Swansea City’s Head of Academy performance.
Huggins also holds a UEFA B license and is a PhD Candidate Football Science at the University of South Wales. He has a Bachelor of Science in Sports Coaching and Performance
Hasegawa is attached to Everton. His focus is on looking for play patterns, identifying the team and opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, and elaborating reports with facts and videos, including a qualitative interpretation and recommendations. He also contributes to the game model development. Hasegwa is vital source of information and knowledge that allows the team to better prepare their training sessions and matches.
“It’s a big impact for us now because we see the guys are moving off the ball and running better. With the exercises he (Huggins) is giving us can add two to three more years to our careers. It’s great for the players and for myself also. The team on a whole is better prepared for our matches,” Hyland told TTFA Media.
“The analyst looks at many different points that some may not look at during games and Dennis sits with him and draws a lot of points that helps us improve our game. We see the strengths and weaknesses of teams and also of our own team which contributes to our overall preparation both on and off the field towards the results we want and deserve. Hopefully we can deliver success in the Gold Cup. added the former Racing Genk player.
“The team is one family now and everyone is getting along really well. It’s strange to see a national team get along so good because normally everyone is competing for positions but in that everyone has love for each other on and off the pitch. Hopefully we can grow and build on that. We want to make a strong selection for the Gold Cup. The entire staff and management along with the players are all working well together to try to bring success to the team and the country, Hyland added.
Sheldon Bateau also touched on the introductions, saying “It’s been a good addition to our preparation. Dennis has brought some different aspects to the team and you can see improvements in certain areas of our game. It is something we can continue building on to help improve the team. And it is helping us as players because we are lot more sure of ourselves heading into games knowing what to expect and being more confident in the work we are putting in under Dennis’ leadership and guidance. I think the staff in general is putting in the effort to have the team ready for international football,” Bateau said.
Also weighing in was US-based midfielder Kevan George, adding “We have the access to certain things at our clubs and Dennis has been exposed to this and now ensures we get it at the national team. It’s great for the players and hopefully it pays off in the end which means we as players have to fully grasp what is coming our way so that the results can come our way.”