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Preparing for Battle: with disciplinary thinking ahead of his time, Needham stood out from the rest of the players

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2021-06-25 19:41:57

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
When he was recognized as the best half-back of his time – perhaps the best footballer –, Ernest Needham had a strong characteristic of never getting tired on the pitch, and always applying himself to the fullest for his team, even when others seemed exhausted. Experts questioned why Needham always showed up in exceptional physical shape for the clashes. When many were exhausted, Needham dominated the second half with dictatorial mastery, both on the defensive and offensive levels. Needham, then captain of England, explained his disciplinary thinking:
– Well-directed exercise is the chief factor in training for any sport. Here I might warn against a most common error. Too many youths and men play football to obtain exercise, but this is quite wrong: exercise should, nay, must precede match football, or harm from exposure and over-straining is bound to ensue. Still more, the untrained man blunders about the football field, throwing himself blindly into danger, and proving a frequent source of accident to himself and others. This is so well known to professional players that trainers take charge of first-class men at least a month before their first public appearance of the season. To get into condition at the beginning of the season is hard work, for while resting superfluous fat has accumulated, some muscles of locomotion have become more or less flabby, the circulatory system is torpid, and the chest muscles and organs of respiration are slow in their action. To counteract all this, we must at first have plenty of football practice to bring the muscles into obedience to the will, skipping, walking, and running to strengthen them, sprinting to cultivate speed, and three-quarter and mile runs to tone up heart and lungs. Indian clubs and dumbbells are occasionally used. These various exercises, used lightly at first, and gradually increased under experienced direction, will produce the necessary vigour and hardness, and bring the player into condition for match playing.
– When once a man is "fit," and the season has commenced, less practice is needed, one or two days a week at kicking, more walking, and gentle exercise being sufficient to keep him up to the mark. The intelligent trainer now must see that proper food is used to restore exhausted energy, and lay up for future exertions. He knows that excessive wear and tear of the framework fills the body with worn-out substances. The muscles and blood are overcharged with broken-down tissue, almost to the extent of poisoning. Now, then, comes the time for rest and natural recuperation. Nature's efforts to expel foul matter must be assisted by baths, massage, etc., and only sufficient exercise indulged in to prevent any sudden running-down...