Wigan’s Jason Pearce: “Pre-Season Getting A Lot More Scientific Now”

This article was first published on June 26th 2015

Wigan Athletic defender Jason Pearce is busy preparing for another pre-season ahead of another hectic season to come. His team are looking ahead at a whole new league of opposition after being relegated from the Championship at the end of last season.

We spoke to the former captain of Leeds United, Bournemouth, and Portsmouth about what a professional footballer goes through during the off-season, the movement toward a more scientific approach to training, and who’s come back the chubbiest from a summer off!

What goes into pre-season training for a professional footballer?

“Back in the day, when you had the summer ‘off’, a lot of the lads would really have the summer off, and do absolutely nothing and come into pre-season with a bit more weight and body fat on them than the year before.”

“Nowadays it’s different though, most professionals will work hard during the off-season, with maybe only having two or three weeks off, making sure they keep at a good level of fitness to start the following season with. Once you’re back in pre-season, at least you’ve got that base level of fitness already kept, and it’s something to work from for the coming year.”

“Pre-season is very scientific now. You do still have some old school managers that will just make you run, run, and run, but the way football’s going now there’s a lot more science behind the thinking of it all, and it’s all done by the clock, they’ll see what your heart rate is, things like that. The game’s changing in that way, but for the better I think.”

Planning for the year ahead

“We were told before going off for the break this year try not to do too much, because they want to work us hard in pre-season. We’re focusing on lower leg strength, getting them nice and strong, that’s very important for an off-season.”

“The fitness coach and manager will always sit down in the summer and make a fitness plan for the year. In League One there are so many games coming at you thick and fast, so that will provide them with their own test this year. It’ll be interesting to see what they do this year, as we’re looking for promotion this year as one of the biggest clubs in League One.”

Fulham v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship

Pearce (28) leaps in celebration with teammate Jermaine Pennant. Pic: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Who’s come back from pre-season with the most weight gained? 

“Haha, that’s a difficult one to think about really. I wouldn’t like to name names or anything. To be fair, there are a few players like Ross McCormack, who I played with at Leeds, and who’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with. He’s got a chubby build anyway, he’d probably say so himself. He’s quite small but has a thick set.”

“He’d come back after the summer and you’d think he’s a bit chubby alright, but that’s just the way he was anyway and it didn’t matter to him. He might be at the back sometimes in the run in, but give him the ball and it never mattered. Throughout the season he’d just get fitter and fitter, and was always able to produce that bit of magic when we needed it.”

What is the worst part of a professional footballer’s life?

“I think losing games is obviously one of the worst parts of being a footballer. Nobody likes it. But I think being away from your family is the worst. For long away trips we’d go the day before the match, spend the night and then the day of the game there.”

“Pre-season tours can also be difficult for the family. I’d be away for maybe a week or even two, and that’s tough, especially when you’ve got a little baby.”


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