By Matt Badcock
HE’S helped Danny Lloyd and James Ball on their way into the professional game – now Bradford Park Avenue defender Mark Ross wants to improve even more Non-League players.
Away from Avenue’s National League North challenge, which started with two wins from their first two games, the 29-year-old is a fitness and performance coach in Manchester.
Ross, who won promotions with Chorley and also had a spell at Stockport County and was selected for Jamie Vardy’s inaugural V9 Academy, has launched his very own football performance ebook.
Over the past year he’s interviewed more than 100 players to find out what they’re looking for when it comes to enhancing their game off the pitch.
It’s, he says, not about introducing any whacky ideas but to give guidance to players on how to get the basics right.
“I’ve tried to bring something out to help Non-League players because I’ve seen so many injuries or lads quitting football through little niggles and not knowing the right things to do,” Ross, who is also a fitness model, said.
“It’s tough working all day and training – it’s completely different to being a professional footballer. There are S&C plans out there for players who want to go pro but it’s not directed for when you’re working and can’t book a pitch for three hours to do drills.
“I’ve spoken to more than 100 Non-League players and some in League One and League Two about what they need and what they want. I’m not worried how many it sells, I just want to help people.
“It’s not just how to lose fat and put muscle on, it’s also how you can play for the next eight, nine, ten years – like I’ve done – without any major operations.
“The information in there is brilliant. I’ve worked with Premier League physios and fitness coaches so it’s not just my view on it.”
Ross says it’s the smallest things that can make a big difference with his ebook focussing on key areas such as nutrition for body composition and performance, strength training, mobility, recovery and supplements.
It provides warm-up and stretching routines for a football specific audience and how to plan around a busy season.
And he’s seen the results with former Stockport County team-mates Lloyd, now at Salford, and Ball moving into the pro ranks with Peterborough and Stevenage.
“Over the years I’ve worked with physios to help players whether it’s nutrition, training or mobility,” Ross said. “Chorley used to come down to my gym to train when?I was there and it helped us in the season.
“I do online coaching with clients around the world and I’ve started to coach players, some professional, through it all, which is a new concept.
“Then players I’ve played with, when I was at Stockport with Danny Lloyd we used to work on his strength in the gym. “He’s such a talented footballer. He’s strong for his height and he’s fast – that’s what’s been seen in him but he worked on that. He did a lot of squats, a lot of leg training in the gym, we pushed him on his circuits, we built a nutrition plan for him and we worked on his calories.
“It was the same with James Ball. We used to speak a lot about his training and nutrition. It comes down to the same things and what to do in the gym.”
And he’s also got his sights on another strong season with Bradford PA following last season’s play-off finish.
“I think we were tipped to be relegated last year which was funny because when I got there I could see how good the players are,” Ross said. “It became a bit of a running joke because we felt we would do well.
“In the end we got to the play-off semi-finals and did brilliantly. I think we’re still underdogs this year but we’re really confident.”