FFF meets Chris Neville

29 January 2018 Ben Cartwright interview, coach, professional, football, soccer

Can you give us some background about yourself regarding your career, experience and development to date?

Today, I work as a football and performance consultant and I also Lecture in Football Science at Solent University in Southampton. Previously I have held roles as Head of Athletic Performance with Blackburn Rovers FC (2013-2017) managing the day to day athletic performance operation across the Senior and U23 playing squads. I have also provided conditioning support to the England national football team at the World Cup (2006/2014) and European Championships (2012/2016) and also the qualifying matches leading up to these tournaments. I have also been employed by Portsmouth FC as Head of Strength and Conditioning (2001-2007 and 2008-2013) and as a performance specialist at LA Galaxy (2008) in Major League Soccer.


Why/how did you become involved with the soccer science conference?

I have known Rhys Carr as a very respected Sports Science practitioner for a number of years. I am delighted to be able to contribute to the sharing of information related to improving our industry. In my opinion, conferences like SSC will only help this process and aid to improve sports science collaboration.


What can we expect to see from you at the conference in terms of what you are presenting?

Over the last year, and in consultation with Liverpool John Moores University, we have been carrying out some work on training session prescription in elite football and the use of periodization models. Put simply, we would like to understand more why we choose the drills we do throughout the working week, month and season. I am hoping to share some of our findings.


What is it from your point of view that separates the soccer science conference? Why does it stand out from the rest?

Football has become a specialist in sports science delivery and even though we can always learn from other sports, we are delivering more and more football related interventions. I think the Soccer Science conference 2018 has a brilliant blend of practioners with a range of experiences to enable the attendees to take something away to use in their practice.


What is your current role? What does it entail?

I am currently helping write a new 4 year MSci Football Science course at Solent University to be delivered from September 2018. The course will combine sound scientific underpinning with ‘real world’ football experiences over a 4 years pathway to provide students with real employability and industry experience. It’s an exciting project. In addition I am carrying out some football consultation work as well as providing support in other sports.


Can you (very briefly) summarise your approach to developing football fitness:

This is hard to summarise briefly, but I would say, don’t over complicate and concentrate on developing sound fundamentals. Combine the needs of the coaching and management team with individualising the player development process with a multi-disciplinary approach.


What area would you say you are most passionate about in the area of football fitness?

I have been extremely lucky to have been employed in football for 17 years and during this time have been exposed to some incredible experiences. Over the last 3-4 years I have enjoyed having the opportunity to share my experiences with young aspiring sports scientists and helping them develop their own careers in football.

Who do you follow on twitter?

Bit boring really – mainly science providers across a variety of sports.


What do you feel is the biggest training mistake others make in developing football fitness?

Pinning soft tissue injuries onto one factor.


What has been the most effective thing you do in terms of career development/CPD?

Listen to others (young and old), read loads and get out of my comfort zone


What are the 3 key training philosophies you adopt with your players?

Remain consistent – win or lose, remain consistent in your delivery and mentality.


How does your role change when a new manager comes in?

It doesn’t generally. We provide a support and advisory role, so I always keep to that. I try to integrate the wishes of the new manager, with an advisory role if I don’t agree with a situation or plan.


What recovery methods do you use with your players?

+0-72hrs. Concentrate on hydration, nutrition and sleep and supplement these with light exercise, water immersion etc


What are three areas that your opinion has changed recently?

Technology, volume of sports scientists and commercial demand.


Do you have any advice for young practitioners?

Read, work hard and be patient – knowledge and experience takes time. Good or bad situations – always try and take something away to use in the future.


Who has had the biggest influence on your career to date?

I’ve worked for 20 managers, all of which I’ve learnt from for various reasons. My dad kept me grounded always.


Thank you to Chris for takinfg time out of his busy schedule to complete our interview.

We look forward to seeing his presentation at the conference.

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