Fitter, faster, stronger.
That was the message as the AFC Bournemouth under-18s, along with a handful of under-21s, attended a unique fitness and mentality session at Who Dares Gyms on Branksome Beach this week.
The beach gym is led by Ex-Special Forces coaches, and they put the Cherries squad through an hour and a half of gruelling tests that pushed their physical capabilities as well as teaching them important aspects of the mindset required to be successful as a team.
Exercises included an assault course and competitive runs on the sand, before smaller groups entered the sea for the first time under close instruction to first race one another in chest-high water before bonding as a team to a lift a heavy weight into the waves and keeping it above water at all times.
The ultra-physical session came to a close with a strenuous cannon race, smaller teams having to work closely together to drag a heavy cannon through the sand while traversing obstacles in the fastest time possible.
After completing their demanding exercises, two members of the squad – both entering their first years and getting a white hot introduction to the under-18s – spoke to afcb.co.uk about their afternoon on the sand.
Striker Baylin Johnson explained how he was feeling: “I’m shattered, totally shattered.
"This was a real mental game, there were times when as a team we just wanted to give up, especially when we were in the sea, but as a team, as a unit, we had to just keep going, keep pushing, because if one of us slacked off we’d all fall in the sea.
“It’s just about working together and sticking at it, even when it’s tough you’ve got to keep going.
“It all links to the football pitch. If we’re not pushing and putting in 110% on matchday our opposition will find some flaw in the team and capitalise on it.”
Defender Archie Harris, who has been at the club since joining the under-11s also enjoyed the experience: “It’s been a tough workout on the beach, a lot of running, a lot of tough work on the legs. I’m a bit knackered now and I’ve got sand everywhere but it’s a good way to get fitter in a fun way.
“The sand is impossible to run on, a real quad burner but at the end of it we’ll be fitter, faster, stronger, that’s what they kept pushing into our minds.
“Good on the guys, we were told all the way through that it’s all about integrity. That if you tell the truth to your team-mates you trust each other more, you’ve always got to own up to things because if you don’t and you get punished you’ll always have that guilt.
“If you let your team-mates know you’re more likely to get a better outcome. It’s all about telling the truth and bringing yourselves together.”