BRENDAN McCartney says Melbourne’s nine-day pre-season camp on the Sunshine Coast was the best one he’s been involved with during his time in football.
Speaking on the final day to Dee TV, the highly experienced coach and Melbourne’s manager of development said he couldn’t speak highly enough of the camp.
“It’s been brilliant. I’ve been on these [pre-season camps] a lot of times over a long journey and this is the best one I’ve been part of. It’s just a great balance of really planned and structured training and it’s pushed them (the players) to their limits,” he said.
“At the same time, it’s a phenomenal area and the down time has been really enjoyable and it’s allowed the players and staff to enjoy each other’s company, away from a footy environment.
“It’s just been tremendous.”
Although McCartney said bonding with the group was one of the most important aspects of the camp, he said there were so many things gained from the time away.
“[When] you go interstate into a holiday-type climate – and that’s what it is, it’s very relaxing – [you’ve got to make sure] you still transfer your footy program, so your education sessions, learning sessions and review sessions are still planned – and they have been,” he said.
“Training has still [been] of a high standard and we’ve still ticked the conditioning box, so that’s the important thing – through the combined efforts of all of the staff, leaders, senior players and the boys. They’ve got that done.”
McCartney said pre-season camps had come a long way since he first became a coach in the AFL in 1998, having previously been with Richmond, Geelong, Essendon and the Western Bulldogs.
“They’re less a bash, crash, smash arrangement – they’re much more structured,” he said.
“In the old days, it was almost do as much work until you drop. The game’s changed so much that it doesn’t allow you to do that anymore. There is an element to it – we certainly tested them physically and mentally [on Friday] with the main session in the heat.
“If anything, it’s the structured, planned nature of footballers that’s been built into these camps as well. You can’t invest that much energy just into one week and let it compromise 10 weeks after. To transfer our program into a nice climate – we got that done.”
McCartney said Melbourne’s final training session at Maroochydore Multi-Sports Complex on Friday was indicative of the club’s pre-season so far.
“They trained well. They’re probably getting to the stage – these boys – where they can break down their little drills and transfer their learning experiences into the bigger drills,” he said.
“Depending on the phase of the game or what part of the ground they’re at – their habits and behaviours are starting to become a little bit more habitual and easy to recognise.
“They handled the big drills well [on Friday] and they also handled the real football specific conditioning at the end, which I’ve seen clubs do for a long time now and it’s brutal. They handled it very well with a positive outlook.
“To be honest, it’s pretty much what we’ve had all summer from them. From day one of the pre-season, they’ve just consistently displayed a can do, will do approach to things and they’re building some really nice habits into the season.”