Bidvest Wits step up pre-season training

Johnstone is assisting Gavin Hunt

Johnstone is assisting Gavin Hunt

Bidvest Wits assistant coach Paul Johnstone is happy to be back at pre-season training as the club gears up for the start of the new campaign that begins in a month.

“It is really good to be back,” he told the club website. “The players had quite a long break and we got to a point where I was really itching for them to come back.

“I was interested to see what shape the players come back in. When the off-season begins, the players are given a program to follow to keep the body ticking over while resting. There is nothing better than getting back on day one and putting the guys through their paces.”

The Students will be involved in the MTN8 next month, before launching their Absa Premiership campaign. In the cup, they are set to face Orlando Pirates in the opening round, while they will be looking to go one better in the league after finishing as runners-up last year.

Johnstone is pleased at the condition in which the players returned after their holidays.

“This year players were not in bad form when they returned – in this day and age the players are professional and don’t tend to get completely out of shape,” he stated.

“There is a lot of work to be done still every pre-season, and you have to put all the players through quite a lot of loading and making sure that they are working. It is not always from the physical side but from the mental side as well.

“As a coach you want to see how far your players can be pushed mentally and physically whilst staying on the borderline because you don’t want to push the players too hard too early.”

Looking ahead to their full program, he added: “Obviously in the beginning when the body is still adjusting after the offseason we go through the process of getting the basic fitness back, try to keep the ball at the guys feet a lot getting their touches back, and just kind of reintroducing them so to speak.

“Then we increase the intensity as the weeks go by and steadily the players fitness levels improve. We then start to work on speed and over time a little more sharpness.”