Darren Burgess, the Head of Elite Performance at Arsenal, believes social media can affect the mental and physical wellbeing of elite athletes and revealed that phones have subsequently been banned from recovery stations at the Gunners training base.
Working alongside Gary O’Driscoll, the Head of Medical Services, the Australian, who joined the Gunners from AFL outfit Port Adelaide in July 2017, has spent the summer restructuring the set-up at the club’s Player Performance Centre at London Colney, including improvements on the technology side and tweaks to the staffing hierarchy.
Mitigating the risk of injury is at the core of everything Burgess’ team does with attention to detail key to the marginal gains that make the difference at the highest level.
Speaking to the RTS podcast, Burgess explained: “Most of the time we enforce a rule that you can’t have your phones in the massage room.
“We’ve got guys who have over 10, 11 million followers on Instagram. They just have to send out an innocent message and probably 100,000 people are going to send back an abusive one if they’ve had a bad game.
“That creates a stress that has an impact on them physically and certainly mentally. A float tank is ideal, as is yoga, massage, meditation – anything where the technology is off, their body is recuperating and you’re forcing them into a little bit of silence so they can process what they’re doing and take their mind off anything to do with football.
“We’re trying to educate our guys about the benefits of that. I like that concept of forced recovery for sure.”
Burgess, who communicates with Unai Emery every day both in person and via Whatsapp, also revealed he’s looking to learn Spanish so that he can better communicate with the new coaching staff.
“I want to learn Spanish, because I’m in a Spanish environment at the moment,” he explained.
“I’ve started – Spanish with an Australian accent should be interesting.”
For more on the Player Performance Centre and the work being done by both Burgess and O’Driscoll, make sure you check out Tim Stillman’s excellent write-up of a recent tour of the facilities that we at Arseblog News were invited to join.
And if podcasts are your thing, Burgess’ full interview with Mike Robertson is a great listen.