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Getting to know Gareth Piper, the Academy's Head of Medical & Sports Science

1 October 2023


Getting to know Gareth Piper, the Academy's Head of Medical & Sports Science

1 October 2023

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We sat down with the Academy's Head of Medical and Sports Science Gareth Piper this week to discuss his career, his day to day roles at the club and much more in our staff featured interview.

Gareth joined Fleetwood Town just over two-years ago and has seen the Academy go from Category Three status to Category Two status, and with the challenge of more techincal and physical games for the Under-21s and Under-18s, as well as those at the younger ages, there's never a quiet day.

After starting off at fellow League One side Wigan Athletic, and gaining qualifications in both physio and coaching, Gareth believes being on both sides of the fence has helped him massively in his role at Town.

People can now watch the full interview on iFollow above, or read some of the best quotes from the interview below: 

On what a normal day looks like…

“For me, a normal day starts with me reporting to work [at Poolfoot Farm] early in the morning, have some breakfast with the staff on site and then we will look at those who are classed as on-going injuries or those who might be new on the injury list.

“We have a database that manages different notes and it basically explains what we have done with a player the day before, it also looks at plans for the week and month, depends on their injury and then that gets discussed within our medical and sports science group.

“With Liam, Youl and Lloyd and then the Academy Staff on the day will then go and work with the individuals at different times and then from there, we may do an assessment if required which may lead to a player doing a gym session or getting them back on the grass for the first time.

“If there’s a game that needs covering, we will be there to support as well as if there is training as someone needs to be there ready for first aid. With the Academy, sometimes we have meetings to discuss players as there are many within so it’s important, we are prepared and covering all angles throughout the day, weeks and months.”

On what happens when a player goes down on the pitch…

“When you are watching the game from my point of view, you are almost a step ahead. When a player goes for a header or tackle, you’re thinking in your head what could happen so you’re ready if called on by the referee.

“You’re always trying to see if there is a mechanism. Has that player twisted something? Have they landed funny? Have they had a head collision? You’re trying to have a feel of what has happened but majority of the time the player will know what’s happened, but you try and be a step ahead.

“When running onto the pitch, you can see the player shouting or screaming because of the tackle and sometimes you need to calm the player down before assessing. In that moment, you are looking to assess, get information from them and then go from there. With the new rules, you have to take the players off now and wait 30 seconds and that can give us time.

“For me, you are then focusing on that player for the next 5-10 minutes to see if they’re moving correctly and nothing has got worse. It’s important to be a step ahead so you can let coaches and others know if that player needs to be taken off.”

On Gareth’s career in footballing…

“My first role was at Wigan Athletic and I worked with their Academy on the Strength and Conditioning department. I also did my coaching badges up to UEFA B and then after 12-years working my way up from the Under-9s to the First Team

“In the middle of all that, I did my Physiotherapy degree and spent some time at Chesterfield before making the move to Fleetwood 2-3 years ago. Essentially most of my background is coaching and that helps me massively when I am in the gym or on the grass with different size group players.

“I have experience on both sides so that help me with the rehab side of things. There is a lot of crossover with the medical and sports science departments here at Fleetwood because we are a small club and that helps me in my role as we can all come together to make the best decisions when it comes to getting players back on the grass.”

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