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Edinburgh City embrace sports science approach

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• Edinburgh City are including sports science methods within their training.
• The Under-20 Lowland League team are using the training techniques, with a view to implementing the system across the club.
• Interviewee: Rob Hart
Football, as a game, is ever-changing and so there always needs to be vision; an idea which defines you uniquely as a club and preserves your place at the top. Whether it is through game-changing nutritional methods, inventive aerobic exercises or revolutionary training practices, coaches are always looking for an extra yard of advantage.
Edinburgh City FC is well and truly a club that aims to stretch boundaries. Rob Hart, sports science expert, has his sights set on taking City to the next level. Despite being a Lowland League club, they certainly do not lack ambition, if you take into consideration how speculative this approach is. Although, the rewards may be enormous.
Hart spoke of his strong personal ambition to introduce sports science into the grassroots game: “During my time studying Sport and Exercise Science at Edinburgh Napier University, I came across academic research, and in this case Sport Science research, that has led to many discoveries on best practices when it comes to developing athletes and coaches based on their needs through sport & healthy lifestyles,” he said.
“It is important to understand these physiological and psychological principles together with the correlation between sport and healthy living.
“There is certainly a need for further support, through sport science programmes at clubs like Edinburgh City FC for their participants, coaches and parents on nurturing healthy lifestyles.”
Hart’s journey through the Edinburgh City system began years ago, when he managed the 2005 age group. He was not satisfied with the then climate of our game at youth level and felt a new approach was required. With the assistance of his fellow coaching staff member, Ross McNamara, he was able to contact the youth section committee regarding his concept, with which they wholeheartedly agreed. 
Since then, Hart has meticulously planned and developed the programmes to be implemented with youth sides, one of them being the club’s under-20s Lowland Development Team, of which he also happens to be manager.
The benefits from sports science will be felt by both players and managers. With the sessions containing enjoyable, unique and educational methods of training, players will see their self-esteem soar and their style of play develop into a free-flowing and enterprising standard. 
Coaches will also see the advantages that come with the strategy, as they will collaborate with Edinburgh Napier University students, sharing their knowledge, ideas and experiences in order to solidify one another’s coaching credentials.
Long-term is the focus at City, as Hart explained. “All players at Edinburgh City FC will have the opportunity to develop in a player centred pathway, built on the needs and demands of those individuals. This will allow them to develop both physically and psychologically through football.” 
“We also aim to create better coaching standards, improve players’ health and fitness levels and create well-rounded footballers within the club.”
He added: “This in itself will encourage all at the club to continue their participation from fun 4s, soccer 7s and 11-a-side to the first team.”
If these risks end up paying off, then it would be fair to say that Edinburgh City would be on the verge of something special.

Gregor Kerr | YFS South East Region Journalist
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