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Brentford and the power of playfulness

Training Ground Guru feature with Michael Caulfield, Brentford's consultant psychologist

15 April 2021

Some of the more unusual methods used by Brentford to help players recovery after matches were the subject of a recent feature on the Training Ground Guru website. Michael Caulfield, Brentford's consultant psychologist, and Chris Haslam, the Club's Head of Performance, were on a recent webinar run by Training Ground Guru, a website that produces articles insight into the teams behind the teams in professional football. And that webinar discussed some of Brentford's methods.

"We have a temporary structure that I call the biggest gazebo gym in the world and players have taken up two-touch, head tennis and stand-up Jenga in there," explained Michael Caulfield. "It's not the sit-down version of Jenga - the bricks are the size of cricket bats - but it's one of the games the players want to engage in. I’ve recorded a couple of games and the level of competition is extraordinary.

"The word I always use is playfulness, which I don't see in too many scientific journals. I learned that from my background in other sports and also from a colleague called Michael Beale, who spent a year at Sao Paulo and noticed that a huge part of their training was playfulness, to keep the players involved, and he's trying to bring that into Europe. Boredom does play a role, because if you do the same things every day, with the same people and the same voices, that can become tedious."

"We ask the players if they are eating well after a game, if they are sleeping well and what active recovery are they doing," added Chris. "After that, it’s how do we keep them engaged and playing and laughing. We’ve got so many good clips of the players playing fun games - games they’ve made up themselves - and that’s what we want to create on those recovery days and around the training ground every single day."

The whole feature, with some video clips, is available on the Training Ground Guru website. It can be seen here. The whole webinar is behind a paywall but can be seen here.


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