If enthusiasm and dedication are two of the key factors in a good football coach then Nigel Law is top of the list.
It takes years to build up coaching skills and experience but despite holding a UEFA A Licence, Nigel admits he is always learning and is keen to push himself further in a bid to have the Glenavon squad in the best possible shape when they go onto the field of play.
The 28-year-old arrived at Mourneview Park in February 2012 when the club was battling for survival in the Premiership.
Since then, he has played a major role in the success which has followed and is currently putting the players through what he believes is the crucial stage of pre-season training.
“I have a structure and a way of working and it is always based on how the manager wants us to play,” explained Nigel.
“All the work we do on the training pitch always relates back within the model and philosophy of what we want in terms in our style of play.
“All the sessions we do are integrated in approach so that sessions will never always be around a physical element, but will be around an area of the game which builds in to relevant sports science and conditioning to try and maximise and get the players not just fit, but get them fit for purpose.
“I have a base of sessions that I work off but they are always game related. It has to around the principles of what we do and in within that the different sub principles of the different attacking, defensive and transitional moments of the game.
“What we do is very much geared towards educating the players too. We believe the way we train and the methods we use the conditioning of the players will come off the back of that.
“What we have been doing this pre-season is focusing on defensive issues. It’s how we defend, looking at the defensive decisions we make as a team, looking at that as units of the team and how that all links together so we use that in small sided phases of play without doing any specific fitness work which we know will come through as the players do the right work and play a number of games.”
Nigel says it is important to make the sessions interesting and varied.
“One of the things we like to do is getting players to problem solve,” added the coach.
“So during a session we will create problems, we may play a 10 v 8 were we condition the eight players as a midfield four and defensive four not to concede. They are obviously overloaded so we have to find solutions to that - do we press the ball or do we drop off, so it is a mental challenge too.
“It makes it an interesting environment, maybe some new players coming in are used to a more traditional coaching methods but it’s up to me to make sure that enjoy it too. It has to stimulate the players because if it doesn’t then you are not going to get them working at 100 per cent and your quality and your tempo and that conditioning element will not come off the back of it.”
The days when training involved a bit of running round the track and a bit of ball work are long gone.
Pre-season conditioning is perhaps one of the most important phases of the football season.
“For us it is very much about looking at the bigger picture and trying to be as modern as we can,” added Nigel.
“The way I look at it is if we are doing a session that involves running and involves work without the ball or a very simple session that means just passing and running with the ball then I feel we are losing so much contact time with the players to build into them what we want in terms of the philosophy and terms the importance of various moments of the game.
“Rather than looking at it as a part principle, we try to look at it as an overall principle and condition and implement the session in such a way that the players will pick up those various aspects that they have to as we go along.”
Fans may be surprised to learn that this season’s pre-season was in the development stage months ago.
“I have had a loose structure in place before the cup final. It is always important as a coach that you try and review your ideas and try to improve and iron out mistakes from the season before. You have to be prepared to prepare with some degree of flexibility too.”