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It's All In The Science

Head of Sport Science Mark Howard is a key man for the Clarets

11 July 2018

Mark Howard and his sport science department plays a crucial role in helping the Clarets hit peak performance.

But even Howard admits there is one day he takes a back seat in the pre-season routine – ‘Gaffer’s Day’.

That’s the day boss Sean Dyche oversees tough tests of endurance for his players to push them to the limit – mentally and physically – this year’s instalment coming on day three of the Clarets’ pre-season camp near Cork.

“It’s a long session. The lads are aware there is one day in pre-season, in particular, where the gaffer has got absolute 100 per cent of the control and it’s as much about psychology as it is about the physiology of pre-season and it’s really tough,” explained Howard, Burnley’s Head of Sports Science.

“It’s not one of our days. There’s not a lot of science and theory goes into that day.

“It’s about mentality and about the bigger picture of getting the squad ready for another important season, so they are mentally and physically prepared to take on whatever is thrown at us.

“Going into it there’s a bit of trepidation and coming out of it there’s a lot to be gained from locking in such a severe physical test and a mental test. All good, though.”

While Wednesday morning’s session was about more than stats and facts, the data of each player is recorded and analysed by Howard and his staff as part of their overview of pre-season.

And it’s a vital time for the team behind the team which plots the fitness and well-being of the players to propel them through a gruelling campaign ahead.

“In that first block of a few weeks we are really pushing the lads mentally and physically to get them ready for what is a long season,” added Howard, whose department includes key personnel in strength and conditioning, statistical analysis and nutrition.

“It’s that opportunity to get some work in, but at the same time trying to get that balance so we’re not pushing them too hard where we’re picking up any injuries because a huge part of what we deliver is trying to keep the lads on the pitch.

“We’re passionate about injury prevention. As a department we scrutinise and reflect on the injuries and look at each one and how can we do better?

“We take pride in what we’ve been able to do over the last few years in terms of keeping the injuries low and hopefully that’s the case moving forward as well.”

Howard, who joined the Clarets in February, 2013 after working for a number of other Premier League clubs, also enjoys a close working relationship with the Clarets’ coaching and managerial staff.

And together they have helped transform Burnley into a club preparing for a third successive Premier League season and a first entry into the Europa League.

“We all want to be effective. Everyone in the department, everyone right throughout the staff,” Howard added.

“We’re all employed to deliver different roles and we all want to be effective in what we’re doing.

“Those little moments like today when the lads come through a tough session and you get through a week, providing everyone has come through, and then we go into the games – there are different things we get pride from.

“But essentially, look at last year, everyone was proud of the bigger picture at how the club did and how the team performed and where we finished in the league.

Watch a full interview with Mark as he explains the science behind the team in a Clarets Player feature on Thursday

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