Training elite boxers during the lockdown – Q&A with Senior Podium Coach, Lee Pullen

By 14th May 2020News

Senior Podium Coach, Lee Pullen, explains how GB Boxing’s coaches and support staff are continuing to support the boxers on the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) during the lockdown period.

How have you adapted the training programme for the boxers during lockdown?

The boxers are still doing the same type of training programme, we have just had to be a bit more imaginative in how they do it and supply them with kit to enable to them to train at home. They are doing runs or bike sessions, strength and conditioning, technical work, bag work, video analysis and yoga. We have designed plans for each individual boxer and provided them with any equipment they need to fulfil these plans.

What does an average day of training look like?

We have tried to mirror the way they would train if we were in camp in Sheffield. In the morning they run or do a bike session. These are individualised and tailored for the needs of each boxer.

They are expected to do strength and conditioning work two or three times a week. These sessions are also individualised and reflect the unique outcomes we are looking to achieve with each boxer.

There is also a lot of technical work, including shadow boxing and bag work. We have started to do some of these sessions over Zoom so we are able to provide some coaching and give the boxers immediate feedback on the work they are doing.

We’ve also looked to add some flexibility routines in so some of the boxers have yoga programmes. Overall it’s a very active programme which aims to enable them to continue to develop and improve and keep them busy during lockdown.

What has been the biggest challenge to overcome during lockdown?

The most important thing was to ensure the boxers were safe and that any training plans we put in place reflected the government guidelines. This meant we had to help them to set-up an at-home training environment which presented a lot of challenges. One of the biggest problems we had was getting the kit to the boxers as the Coronavirus situation meant it was not that easy to arrange deliveries.

How has using apps like Zoom benefitted your ability to train the boxers?

Technology has been helpful in a number of ways. From a coaching point of view we’ve started doing some one-to-one sessions with the boxers so we can work on specific things and give them real-time feedback. The boxers have definitely appreciated it and it means they can have some good quality interaction with the coaches. It has gone a lot better than I expected personally.

From a team point of view, the technology has helped us all to stay connected. The boxers can speak individually or in groups to the support staff. All of the GB Boxing staff have a weekly meeting on Zoom which is great for sharing information and keeping people connected. We’ve also set-up Zoom calls for the boxers so they can now get together as a group. Even though, it’s an individual sport, they are still a tight-knit group, so it’s great that they can still have that interaction with each other.

How have the boxers responded to training from home and the use of video calls?

The boxers have responded really well. It took a bit of time to get set-up and we had a few teething problems but it’s working well now. Our Elite Performance Manager, Rebecca Edgington, has done a great job in getting all of this set-up and now it’s up-and-running it feels like we are going from strength-to-strength. The interaction is getting better every day. Everyone is buying into it and we are moving forward brilliantly.

What have you missed most about being in the gym in Sheffield?

The comradery and the banter is what I miss the most. We have such a range of characters at GB Boxing and everyone brings something different. We are like one big family and it’s one of those situations where you don’t realise what you’ve got until it’s not there. I really miss everyone and the day-to-day interactions we have in the gym.

From a coaching point of view, I miss being able to watch the boxers progress, get better and develop on a daily basis, however I am trying to look at this positively. As far as I see it, this is just a little pause for now but we’ll go again when everything is lifted and get back to normal. We’ve got this time to reflect on our programme, which we don’t normally get, so I think we need to use it well and when we get back to our gym in Sheffield, we will be in an even better position to help the boxers.