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Training in tough times: How Newcastle United Women have maintained their intensity during latest lockdown

Written by Joseph Nelson

While Newcastle United's Premier League season has continued during the latest lockdown, much of the women's football calendar has been put on hold and Newcastle United Women face uncertainty as to when their next game may be.

Manager Becky Langley is aware of the detrimental impact this could have on her squad but, determined to maintain elite-level training standards, Langley and her staff have been busy putting in place training methods to ensure the squad will be raring to go when their season resumes - whenever that may be.

The Lady Magpies haven't played since December's 3-1 Vitality Women's FA Cup win against Barnsley Women - which in turn was their first competitive match since the first weekend of November. The team has played just three times in the league so far, but they have made excellent progress in the cup, scoring 26 times in their four matches in the FA Cup and County Cup.

Talking about the current lockdown, Langley said that her squad and staff face "an even greater challenge than the previous two" and that it is "only natural for players and staff to start to feel demotivated."

However, online HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sessions have been taking place online for the squad every week since their season was postponed. Players have taken turns leading these once a week, and it has presented leadership opportunities as well as pushing them out of their comfort zone.

In addition, there have been boxing workouts and a minimum of four running sessions a week, while the team have created a Strava group where they share images, give motivation and, most importantly, compete with one another. Maintaining a competitive edge and drive is key for Langley, who outlined the need for her players to have "a strong intrinsic motivation to want to work hard to be the best version" of themselves.

Midfielder Georgia Gibson scores against Norton Ladies in October

With self-reflection and development in mind, individual analysis has been regularly shared with Langley's squad. This analysis has been shared with players individually to allow them to critically evaluate and improve their own game. Self-reflection is one of the reasons why, prior to lockdown, Newcastle United Women were in impressive form, unbeaten in three matches, and Langley will be hoping that her players can continue to progress despite the lockdown.

During the current lockdown, the messages from the manager have remained as consistent as ever, with Langley reminding her players of their shared vision with team meetings via Zoom every week. The staff also meet regularly, sharing their thoughts and introducing new ideas to ensure that the team is in the best position possible for when the season resumes.

As well as training, community obligations have been maintained during these unprecedented times, as players have been taking part in regular Q&A sessions with young players, offering advice and guidance. The responsibility to be a good role-model is even more prominent in the current social climate and the players have been able to demonstrate their drive and resilience to younger players, with the hope of inspiring them.

It is clear that whilst the Newcastle United Women's squad still face uncertainty surrounding their season, the staff and players are both working hard to ensure that they can deliver the same elite-level performance when it returns.

Photographs courtesy of Colin Lock/@Tyneside_NUWFC

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