Real Madrid's Dupont laboratory
The first stage of pre-season in Montreal served as a chance for Zidane's squad to get to know their new physical trainer, and find out his plan.
When Real Madrid said their farewells to physical trainer Pintus, they said hello to a scientist of physical preparation in his place. A proven world champion, after helping France to 2018 glory, Montreal has been the first stone for Grégory Dupont as he looks to build a great pyramid of strength and endurance for this squad, maximising efforts, while minimising injuries.
There is a clear understanding after recent campaigns that Los Blancos cannot start the season sluggish, however, the objective is to reach the so-called 'business end' at their peak performance. The World Cup saw Dupont's excellence achieve the ultimate goal for an international team who were in wonderful condition. And it didn't take an impressed Zinedine Zidane to be on the phone to him when he returned to the Bernabéu for his second spell stating: "I want your methods in Madrid." We have a look at why...
The 10 point Dupont plan
1. Big Data
Dupont's system relies on a thorough analysis of the massive amounts of data that is collected on each player. The success, of course, of using big data is the art of knowing what is relevant, how it interplays with other information, and also being aware of what to ignore. This all provides the coaching team with a unique profile that indicates at any given moment what state the player is at, helping Zidane with his decision making, and aiding with injury avoidance.
2. GPS squeeze
Global Positioning System technology is common in the modern world of football, but Dupont takes full advantage of every one of the multiple combinations that it allows for. The accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope all ensuring that he squeezes the most out of the players.
3. Injury prevention
This is one of Dupont's specialties. He prepared the France squad for the World Cup in Russia, focusing on the accumulation of games for the players on the back of their club season. Everything is measured and timed. If, for example, matches are played within less than 96 hours (four days) of each other, the chances of injury increase sixfold, according to a study often cited by the coach himself.
4. Lead by example
Although he has not yet had time to truly bond with much of the group, he took the lead on the first day in Canada. There he got the squad on a running session under the summer sun, but it was Dupont who ran out in front. It was clear to everyone that he is in it with them. In France, he would regularly make the 35-kilometre journey by bicycle as part of the route to Clairefontaine.
5. Start well
"It's looking good," were the words heard by some important voices at the club in the first week. In Madrid they generally approve of demanding coaches. "The first training sessions have been tough," admitted Vinicius on the club's website. Zidane and others in the Madrid hierarchy believed that the squad needed a shake up, one that included the physical element. And they are getting it.
6. Convince the stars...
Dupont's motto is short and simple, but also very revealing: 'Talent is no longer enough'. He is used to dealing with big stars of the game and he understands them. He is not a physical trainer with a desire for the spotlight, happy to be in the background making his contribution to the overall effort. This is appreciated in the dressing room.
7. ...because he himself was a footballer
As well as working with elite level players, Dupont knows their mentality because he was previously a professional footballer (mainly in Belgium). so he is able to deal well with the interactions of the squad. "The players will suffer a lot at the beginning but will thank him in later months," a person who has worked with him in the past told AS.
8. His Clairefontaine laboratory
On his return to Madrid following their internationally-posted pre-season, we will see in more detail what plans he has to potentially modernise Valdebebas. The French Federation granted him one of his wishes, a centre in Clairefontaine of 800 square meters that cost three million euros, and that became his laboratory to work his magic.
9. New isn't always better
Despite all the modern technology at his disposal, the 46-year old is not in favour of spending money on it just to because it appears to be in fashion. "I don't see any better results from cryotherapy than from the traditional ice bath," he explained recently. A cryotherapy machine can cost around €300,000.
10. Researcher and teacher
Dupont's passionate desire is to find ways in which to improve in his field of expertise. "I trust scientific evidence and prefer to combine research and theory with the practical, fields that 15 years ago were not linked to each other," he says. He has worked in the universities of Lille and Liverpool and in UEFA programs in order to study the incidences of football injuries.
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