John Swift believes he’s reached a stage in his career where he knows exactly what his body needs in pre-season to be able to perform at the highest possible standard during a league campaign.
The Baggies squad returned to training over two weeks ago and have been put through a number of physically-demanding drills by the club’s fitness and coaching staff.
Swift, now into his second season at The Hawthorns, turned 28 just days after reporting back to club HQ.
And although Albion’s creative midfielder admitted to not being the pre-season schedule’s number one admirer, he recognises just how important the work carried out in the build up to what will be a fiercely competitive Sky Bet Championship in 2023/24 is.
Swift said: “I’m not a huge fan of pre-season personally. It’s one of those things that every player knows they’ve got to put themselves through. You’ve got to get through it before you get to the start of the season.
“We’re in the part of pre-season now where we’re past the really tough initial running stage. We’re doing a bit more tactical and technical work now which is nice. There have been a few more finishing drills too which we all enjoy.
“The first game of pre-season isn’t too far away now so there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
“The best thing about it for me is seeing everyone after the summer break and trying to get back to our performance levels that we reached in training sessions last year.
“When you first come back it’s all about running and trying to get your fitness back, but then when you see the balls coming into play and all of the patterns of play come together like they were last season, that’s the best part about it for me.
“The worst is the running. When you walk out onto the pitch and you don’t see any balls and it’s just poles and cones you know it’s going to be a tough one. It’s all part of the game though and I’ve been doing it for a while. It’s clearly really important work which will put us in good shape for the season ahead.
“The toughest run we’ve had so far was actually the first one we did. It involved us running 1km as quickly as we could. We had to run 100m between two poles back and forth ten times. That was the second day, so if you didn’t prepare yourself properly in the summer then you were struggling. That was tough.
“In terms of pre-season getting easier or harder every year, it think that’s a tough one to answer because I would say that I’m right in the middle of my career based on my age.
“At the beginning I think you really look forward to coming back. When you’re younger you do a load of running in the summer break and it makes you really excited to come back and impress.
“The older you get, you know what your body needs and how much rest and recovery you need, which perhaps you don’t understand or need as much as a youngster.
“The older you get, the more aware you are in terms of what you need in pre-season.
“I would have to say it does get a bit tougher the older you get, though.”
Swift also reserved a special mention for striker Brandon Thomas-Asante, who he says has taken the conditioning sessions by storm.
“I’d have to say Brandon has impressed me the most in pre-season so far, especially with the running.
“I don’t think I realised how fit he actually was.
“You see in matches how quick he can be and how much he can put defenders under pressure with his running, but actually over a long distance, the ability to just keep going and going and going is something he’s really strong at.
“I think a lot of the lads have been really impressed with Brandon so far.”