There was a time at West Bromwich Albion when footballers would return to pre-season training and run.
And run. And run a bit. And run some more.
Often until it hurt.
Then, at some point after about a fortnight, the manager of the time (we’re going back about 10 years here) would send for the footballs.
Much like a father sending out his son to go to the sweet shop and fill his boots.
These days things are a little different.
But not that much.
The hard work continues. Indeed, Albion’s players have had double sessions all week – a morning shift, followed by a rest at a nearby hotel, before returning for an early-evening session.
The summer is not all about beer and skittles.
But, at least this time, the players have had an opportunity to play with the footballs.
Albion fitness coach Matt Green is under no illusions that footballers crave the ball during pre-season.
Yet he knows how to keep them ticking over, without reducing the intensity of their training.
It is, as Green explains, all about being ready for that opening day kick-off against Steve Clarke’s most recent employers Liverpool.
“The footballs are out so the players are keen from that point of view,” said Green.
“They don’t always appreciate the amount of work they’re doing but it’s about getting them fitter by using the footballs so they’re ready for what they’ll be doing on a Saturday.
“There is a whole range of things we need to improve on.
“We need to run for longer periods, get the heart and lungs working and then work on power, strength and agility.
“It’s not just about being able to run box-to-box but also developing the pace and power.
“Those attributes are the match winning attributes – a burst of pace to score a goal or a burst of pace to get back and defend a goal.
“This week players will do similar things to get them to a certain level.
“We will then condition them to specific roles.
“So a centre-half for instance will perform different movement patterns and intensities to what a centre forward will do, or a midfielder, a wide player.
“It’s tailored around their particular role on the pitch.
“You don’t want to peak too early.
“It’s similar to what you play in Premier League.
“That final pre-season game against Nottingham Forest should be a good fixture. We will play a strong team and that will be the game where we should be there or there abouts and get that match exposure at a good intensity so they’re ready for the new season.”