Northampton Lions welcomes players not currently connected with the club to take part in the squad’s free virtual training sessions with UEFA A Licence head coach Howard Willmott.

As a result of the third national lockdown, Willmott is using online platforms to keep his Northampton Lions players training, while also opening the sessions to external players who want to continue improving their game.

Training currently takes place five times a week, comprising of a high-intensity interval training session and two footwork mastery sessions on Zoom, as well as two five-kilometre runs for each player.

“Nobody has ever regretted going to the gym,” said Willmott. “It’s hard to get motivated, but when people come back, nobody says they wish they hadn’t gone.

“That’s the underlying principle of what we are trying to do – keeping people active, focused, connected with a like-minded group, and understanding that they can still improve at football.

“Recording the 5k runs also gives the players accountability, and if everyone is doing it, it adds competitiveness when trying to get the best scores. Meeting targets also gives you that sense of achievement, so there’s a mental health angle to it as well.

“By doing these sessions, you will have a better day.”

“This is not a time to be doing nothing, it’s a time to adapt and evolve.”

Howard Willmott

With two decades of experience in football coaching, Willmott understands how working through this testing period will build character in young players, which will serve them well in future careers.

“This is not a time to be doing nothing, it’s a time to adapt and evolve.

“Being able to adapt in football is massively important; at some point, you are going to hear some news that won’t be what you wanted and you’ll have to move on to the next thing.

“Doing more now is important as at this time of year, in the darkest coldest months, players can meander along and be in terrible condition come the start of spring.

“We kept ourselves busy during the prior lockdowns, so this third lockdown is no reason as to why we shouldn’t continue improving.”

Willmott also sees the lockdown as an opportunity to have an impact on a larger group of players, even outside of Northampton.

“The boys in the squad are lucky because they have all these principles driven to them, but now we can open that up to others.

“Virtual platforms are great as you’re not held by numbers or geography. We could find more players that could really benefit from this; ambitious players who maybe feel a little lost right now.

“If we can help ambitious players by providing a sense of direction, with the knowledge that there is a community of people doing this already, it could be quite powerful and make a big difference to a lot of people.”

If you are interested in getting involved, please email: howard.willmott@northamptonlions.co.uk