The outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown has left thousands of young footballers frustrated with the lack of football and physical activity.

However, a prolonged absence from the game has sparked one coaching academy to offer young players their football fix during lockdown.

RS Performance Academy, headed up by Rob Hart and Stevie McLeish, have offered an alternative way of learning for its players to keep fit and engaged with the sport from the safety of their own homes.

In March, the academy launched their online #busygettingbetter programme to encourage young players to take up running in order to improve their physical and mental wellbeing during lockdown.

The programme, which also included daily strength & conditioning and plyometric sessions on Zoom, arranged players into ‘teams’ and were asked to record the distance and duration of each run they completed. Each team’s total distance was then calculated at the end of the week, crowning a new RS Run Club champion every week.

At the 10-week mark, the RS Run Club group ran an average of 6 kilometres a week since the 30th March. Thus, equating to 60 kilometres per week and a 10-week total of 1,320 kilometres. The distance covered could take you from Easter Road to the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund in approximately 88 hours! Whilst distance was important, the main target was improving time over short distance runs to develop speed endurance.

Hart said: “We are incredibly proud of how the group of youngsters have approached such a difficult period of time. They have embraced the daily sessions and the speed endurance club with a huge commitment and dedication to getting fitter, faster and stronger. They have been dedicated to finding their edge through their own bespoke player development programmes that focuses on developing their strengths and weaknesses. The programme includes a partnership with The Yoga Crow to deliver weekly sessions, nutritional information, developing growth mindsets and performance routines and behaviours. It has been admirable to watch the group utilising their time during lockdown and adapting to different ways to improve their performances.”

RS Performance Academy are now set to launch their #findyouredge summer programme, via zoom, to educate their players on the intricacies of the game that can advance their potential, without the need for full-contact training.

The focus of the summer programme ‘will be developing their ability to take charge of their own Long-Term Athlete Development.’

Hart continued: “I would recommend our Academy programme to any youth athlete with ambition to optimise their performance. The education and experience at RS Performance allows us to contribute to any young person’s development as an athlete and a footballer. We encourage athlete self-care through reflection practices, this combined with our programmes we can support the individual to create something that they strive to become. Whether it be getting fitter, faster and stronger or developing technique and decision making. Whilst helping them to develop resilience a positive mindset and better performance behaviours.”

Some of the focus areas of the #findyouredge programme include analysis, mindset, leadership behaviours, pre- and post-performance routines, strength and conditioning, Speed Clinics, Speed Endurance Club, yoga, plyometrics and flexibility.

The academy enjoys a partnership with Coerver Scotland and have their sessions designed and delivered by UEFA ‘A’ Elite Youth licensed coaches, sports scientists and football coaching practitioners with over 80 years of experience in identifying and nurturing football talent.

Finally, Hart said: “Getting back on the grass for our summer ‘Need for Speed Clinics’ with the young people is exciting for all of us. Our programme from the start of lockdown has enabled young people to continue to socially engage with like-minded individuals from across Scotland. The next stage in line with government guidelines, we are all looking forward to getting those boots back on and providing opportunities for the group to engage with each other in a face to face performance environment again.”

If you are missing football as much as we are and would like to get involved with RS Performance Academy, please contact Rob Hart on 07722179267 or robhart.coach@gmail.com.