How England’s players are preparing for Sunday’s final

·3-min read
Photo credit: Eddie Keogh - The FA - Getty Images
Photo credit: Eddie Keogh - The FA - Getty Images

You don’t have to be a football fan to know that this weekend sees the England football team facing one of their biggest challenges ever. England will play Italy at Wembley in the final of Euro 2020 (the tournament was delayed last year) after defeating Denmark 2-1 at Wembley on Wednesday.

The pressure on the team is hard to overstate; it’s England’s first appearance in a major tournament final since the famous World Cup victory in 1966. As expected, Gareth Southgate’s boys are taking their preparation incredibly seriously.

One way they’re doing that is pilates, with long-term England collaborator Suzanne Scott. A video posted to the England team’s official Facebook page sees Scott leading the team through a series of stretches.

In one exercise, the players sit with one leg bent and the other straight, tucking their chins in and rolling their spines forward. Later in the clip, they can be seen lying down on their backs, extending their legs straight at a 90 degree angle to the body, using straps to stretch their legs.

Scott also helped the England squad during the 2018 World Cup, when they reached the semi-finals before crashing out with a 2-1 loss to Croatia.

Body Control Pilates, which trains Pilates teachers, said of the clip: 'What do you do after the biggest match of your lives to prepare for the next even bigger one? Pilates of course!

'It was SO GOOD to see this clip from yesterday of the England football team 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 being taught Pilates by our dear friend (and total genius), Suzanne Scott 🙌🏻. We know they’re in very good hands with her!'

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But pilates isn’t just for football players – it can have real benefits for runners too. Adding some pilates into your fitness routine can improve your core strength, increase your flexibility and posture, and even lead to better sleep.

Lindsey Clayton, an instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp in the US, has previously explained the benefits of such exercises to Runner’s World: Having a strong core stabilizes your body as you run, and adds power to your arms and legs to drive your body forward.'

Meanwhile poor posture – as many of us have acquired over lockdown – builds tension in your muscles, which can lead to serious injury if not acted upon. The strengthening exercises used in Pilates sessions can help relieve that tension, which makes injury less likely.

It’s also useful for 'prehab' – the art of spotting physical imbalances early, before they start to cause you trouble. The movement involved in a Pilates session can help you notice tightness in certain areas and start to ease out that tension, before it comes back to haunt you while you’re out on the road or trail.

Pilates isn’t the only way England are preparing for Sunday’s final. As well as the usual mainstays of football training like shooting practice and possession drills, one video from the training camp shows the players engaging in a weightlifting competition. In another, some of the team are playing a low impact game of pool volleyball.

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