Female Player Interview: Jess Linford

17 January 2018 Alan Mockford football, footballfitness, female, womens, performance

They say that in order to be a Goalie you have to be a little crazy, and our next featured female player certainly lives up to that moniker. Along with an amazing attitude towards training, the current Wigan Athletic L.F.C. number 1 Jess Linford brings humour and a sense of fun to every training session she’s done with us here Football Fitness Federation. We were overjoyed to be able to chat with her about her personal performance journey so far. 

Hello Jess, thanks for joining us today, can you tell us when you start playing football?

I have played football since I can remember, i was in year 1 when my mum took me to a football social every Friday, I think it was there I discovered my love for football. 
Can you tell about the training you do with your club 
My training session vary, sometimes I’m training with the team doing outfield training, which involves lots of ball work and passing . Most sessions I’m with my goalkeeper coach were I work on lots of aspects of goalkeeping for example footwork, agility, reactions  and decision making.

What other physical preparation work do you do?

Well something I learned as part of my Sports Science degree is that in order to prepare for physical activity it’s important that a good warn up is performed. Having a warm up increases muscle activation that means you can perform better during the session. I usually perform dynamic and static stretching this is to gradually loosen muscles and increase flexibility to prevent  injury. I also do a 1 to 1 training session with Football Fitness Federation working on my strength and explosive power for jumping.

What have been the best memories in your footballing career so far?

I remember signing for Burscough at the age of 11, they were honestly really bad and frequently lost games by 9 goals. At the time I was a left back and the team had no keeper, for the sake of the team I volunteered to go in net and ‘The legend’ was born ha ha ha.  I managed to grasp goalkeeping quite quickly, slowly we improved as  a team and the score  went down each week. I think it was the second to last came of the season and Burscough where bottom of the league with 0 points we were playing earlstown fc,  and we battled and fought hard all game, for all our hard work we managed to draw! I remember my mum and other parents cheering really loud and running on the pitch to congratulate all of us as it was our first ever point! It was the first time I felt really happy playing football as normally we would be thrashed by every team. 

What is your biggest accomplished in the game to date?

The moment I signed for Manchester United centre of excellent has to be the biggest accomplishment. The fact I self taught myself on how to be a goalkeeper and managed to sign for such a prestigious club is a massive achievement for me. Supporting United made it extra special the feeling I got putting on the United jersey on and walking on at the pitch , words cannot describe. 

How’s your current nutrition?

I don’t have a set meal plan each week but I have a balanced diet, but I must admit I do have a weakness for Chicken McNuggets! And Nachos, and Subway ha ha ha.

What are your favourite pre/post meals?

I don’t really have a favioute meal, because we meet at 12.30 game days my pre match meal is my breakfast this can vary it could be  cereal or eggs on toast. After a game/training I like to have a chicken pasta as it’s tasty and filling which is what you want after a hard training session.

How have your performances developed? What specifically is it that you feel that has helped you the most?

Having a constant goalkeeper at Manchester United and at Wigan Athletic has helped improved and develop my game. Also working with FFF has helped me with my jumping as that aspect of my game is a weakness of mine. Injury prevention work has also paid off so far, touch wood!

What do you do to recover from games?

I normally just have a bath and chill out.

What are you current footballing goals?

To Sign for for FC Utd* ..... ha ha ha ha I’m joking, I think this year we (Wigan) have struggled,  players have left and management has changed, which has had a direct implication on our title challenge. I think this season is a rebuilding a recruiting process to work towards promotion next season. My personal goal is to work on my jump height as this has held me back from being a great keeper. Being excellent in the air has to be a key part of keeping especially when dealing with crosses and lobs.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the start if your footballing career?

I would try multiple positions before settling to left back, Imagine if I started playing in net from an earlier age. Me and my mum have always said we wish we would have trailed for a centre of excellence from a younger age. Working with fantastic coaches from an early age could of helped me develop further and potentially have a shot of playing for England.

Who are your footballing role models and why?

Apart from Cristiano Ronaldo, I would say Edwin Van Der Sar he was the keeper who played for United predominantly when I was growing up. He was consistent for United sometimes winning games single handed. My favioute memory was when he saved the final penalty in the UEFA champions league against Chelsea.

Do you have any pre match routines/ superstitions?

No I don’t just a good night sleep Ha ha.

What advice would you give younger females that want to play at  a higher level of the game?

When I played for Manchester United the competition was fierce, I would advise not to be intimidated just believe in yourself, you will definitely experience low times it’s normal, the ability to stay focused and determined to get out of the low times is what separate you from the rest. If you want to compete at the highest level possible prepare to make sacrifices. When i was 18 at United most my friends where going out have fun instead in was home preparing for the game the day after. But when you make it is definitely worth it!

What’s the best advice you have every received?

The advice wasn’t anything technical, it was just to relax and stay focused. 

How has working with FFF helped you and your performance?

Working with Football Fitness Federation has helped me improve my jump height and single leg jump height no question. We don’t have testing facilities at Wigan so to have them objectively measure and monitor my jump height and power output has been instrumental to my development. I have also managed to control my landing so I land in a safe position with less chance of injury. My goalkeeper coach and my team have noticed improvement on the pitch and have complemented me. Donna my coach has requested to come along to a Football Fitness Federation to learn what is involved so that she can implement it to her GK sessions . I feel fitter and stronger in general and will definitely carry on using their training programmes in future.

Thanks for your time Jess, we wish you and Wigan Athletic L.F.C. all the best for the coming season.

No probs pal, just contact my agent in future if you need me ha ha ha

*Wigan have played some massively important games against F.C. United Women in recent seasons in which Jess has had outstanding performances, a long standing joke amongst the Wigan players is that by saving her best performances of the season for these games that she must secretly be trying to impress them in order to get a move there.

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