19th June 2020
Carlton Cole talks Hydration with West Ham’s Official Sports Hydration Drinks Beverage iPRO
iPRO are delighted to be coming on board as the Official Sports Hydration Drinks Beverage for West Ham United. As an Academy coach, how important is it for player performance to have good quality, healthy hydration during training, matches and as part of their recovery programme?
It’s massive. What I found whilst playing, and even whilst coaching, is that you need to stay hydrated to be at your peak performance. You need to always have something in the tank all the time, at all different parts of the game if you’re playing from the start of a match. Sometimes if I had too much to drink at the start of the match, I got a stitch, so you’ve got to try and balance it! Staying hydrated is massive and it keeps your brain ticking in the right direction and you become less tired. It’s a massive part of football and a massive part of everyday life really, and if you’ve got a good hydration drink that tastes nice as well, it’s one of the best things ever!
Academy football is about preparing players as they progress into the highest level of football and this includes setting the right messages both on and off the pitch. How important is it that the players are educated about hydration and that they take accountability in this area outside of club time?
In Academy football, we’re always trying to make sure that the kids have the right information going forwards with their lives and their careers. When I was younger, we probably didn’t have the sort of nutrition advice, or any kind of water intake advice, that we should’ve had at that age, so now, when you go to the training ground – especially West Ham United – you’ll see it around the whole ground. Even when the Academy players enter the building, it says ‘stay hydrated’. There are signs all around the training ground reminding the boys to stay hydrated, and that’s the main ethos of what we do. It does prevent a lot of injuries and things like that, and it does work out in favour of any player, so we educate the players from an early age to stay hydrated and about how important it is.
Since you were a player, how has hydration progressed from when you were playing to now?
Obviously when I was a player, we always knew ‘when you’re thirsty, have a drink!’, but even when you’re not thirsty you need to stay on top of your hydration because you’re actually replenishing your body every time you take a sip of a drink. You don’t have to have a full bottle, but just keep on sipping throughout the day.
That’s where I didn’t actually grasp the concept; when I was younger, I thought it was basically when I’m feeling thirsty, that’s when you have a drink, but you’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to be sipping all the way through the day so you don’t ever become thirsty. I wish I had that information earlier in my career!
What is it about iPRO Hydrate that makes it a chosen drink for West Ham United players?
From what I know of iPRO Hydrate right now, I know it offers a low sugar intake, which is always good for any sportsman because you want to keep your calories and sugars low – you don’t want to be putting on too much extra fat, so full-fat stuff is never good for footballers and it actually can do more harm than good for you. The low sugar part is really good.
Then, you’ve got its natural ingredients – they don’t use chemical additives where it could actually do more damage than good to your body, so that’s another tick across its name.
iPRO are also passionate working with the first team, which is where the Club’s going to benefit because obviously the lads need to be hydrated, and at the same time the drink actually tastes good as well, so they’ll be taking a lot more on board.
Obviously for the kids [at the Academy] as well, when you’ve got a good tasty drink that’s actually good for you, they’re going to be drinking more of that too, so it’s just great to have a good hydration drink that helps the lads to get to their peak performance.
The sustainability of the product is massive as well because it’s got a long future in the game, and obviously they work closely with the community. At West Ham, we’re connected to a lot of local things which go on around the area, like schools and Academies elsewhere.
They work with grassroots football as well around our area, which is going to be great stuff. All in all, the product and the drink’s going to have a very positive impact on West Ham United’s up-and-coming season.
What does a typical match day look like for players for hydration?
I used to wake up every day and the first thing I’d do, before I even brushed my teeth, I’d have a drink to hydrate myself straight away.
I’d keep on hydrating while having my breakfast, then you’d go to the ground, sipping all the way through – even in the car. You’re not taking bulks of fluid on, but sipping all the way through.
When you get to the ground, you’d have your food, your pre-match meal, and with that you’d have your drink as well. It’s very important to stay hydrated all the way through those hours until you’re about to go and kick off. You’d take a massive swig then to see you over to half-time, and even during the match, if you feel you need a little drink you can come to the side of the pitch and have a drink, have a swig, and go back onto the pitch and do your job.
At half-time, you probably drink a whole bottle to yourself because you’re that tired and you’re trying to get ready for the second half, and then you get into the second half and that’s when the drink’s going to be able to help you through that because it’s going to energise you and, at the end of the game, when you’re feeling tired and thirsty, hopefully this drink will help you through that and create energy and the right balance for you to perform at your peak all the way through. That’s why I’m a big fan of hydration all the way through the day of a matchday.
What tips have you been giving the academy players about hydration and fitness since the teams have entered lockdown?
I haven’t been giving them a lot of tips because I can’t control them while they’re at home, but I told them to be as professional as possible.
Obviously during lockdown, when they go to parks, you’ve got to tell them to take a bottle of water because it’ll prevent injuries if you’re working too hard. Take a bottle of water, stay hydrated as much as you can, and that’s about it – you can’t really do too much but trust them to be professional and take on board as much of what we’ve taught them while they’ve been at the training ground, so when they do go home and they are training alone, they take on as much water – or any sort of drink – as possible to stay hydrated.
The Club has recently extended deals and offered professional deals to 11 youngsters from the Academy of Football. How proud are you of that production line, following in the footsteps of the likes of Declan Rice?
It’s a massive accolade for the Academy, which shows the good work that all the Academy staff connected to West Ham are doing. Sometimes there are Academy staff off-site who have scouted players and they’ve come in, shown a great attitude, and the boys have done really well, taking on the right information and making sure they get to the next level.
Once they get in and around the first team then it’s an even prouder moment for the Academy, but yes, having so many good players sign professional contracts and extensions shows you the progression of what West Ham are doing at Academy level. That’s why they call us the Academy of Football across the whole of the United Kingdom – because they know how much quality we have coming into our ranks and at our disposal.
It’s up to the coaches to get the best out of the players, to get them to the level where they can start challenging for first-team places. That’s why we’re so proud of the likes of Declan Rice and Ben Johnson – we’ve got some good players getting into that first team and hopefully we’ll see a lot more coming through very soon.
What’s the most important attribute you see for these youngsters to make it all the way to the top?
The most important attribute would have to be that their temperament is correct; they take information on board, they’re very respectful to everybody around the training ground, and with how they carry themselves in public and around any adults trying to help them take information on board which could take them to the next level.
Academically as well, that’s one of the most important things for us; we have to make sure that their schooling is going to be on point. I always say that if you go to school and you listen and you listen well, you’re practising for that first-team appearance when your manager calls upon you and asks you to mark a player at a corner kick. If you forget that player, that means you haven’t listened properly, but if you do your job and listen before you go on that field and attack what the manager’s told you, that means you’ve been listening, so listening is a massive tool for any young player coming through the ranks because it is actually a hard skill – everyone’s a Mr Know-it-all at a certain age – but if you can learn from the people who have been there and done it, and the coaches that have been helping you all the way through, you’ve got a chance.
Football is returning this week, under really strict measures that the Premier League has introduced. How excited are you to see the game coming back?
I’m very excited obviously. We’ve got so many consecutive games coming up of football, we’re actually now being spoiled! I’m just excited to be involved and able to work within football and see so many games back-to-back.
One thing I do have to say is I’m a big supporter of West Ham, and I want them to have this time to refresh themselves so they can go and reenergise, refocus and come back and to their jobs. We’re more than capable of getting loads of results.
Before the lockdown, I thought we did have a hard run-in – and we still do, the teams we’re going to face will be hard to play against – but with the teams we’re going to be playing against, their momentum has been halted. Now, this is like a new mini-league, a new mini-season at the end of the season, so now it’s time for the boys to buckle down, forget what’s happened in the past, and win as many points as they can to secure our place in the Premier League next season.
Finally, how have you been keeping busy and staying fit during lockdown?
I actually have been doing quite a lot of coaching myself of my two sons! I’ve been coaching and mentoring some boys as well that I’m like a big brother to.
I just love to see young players prosper, that’s my main thing, and have the career that I was fortunate enough to have. Hopefully they’ll even do better than me! I like to nurture young talent, and that’s what I’ve been doing: a lot of Zoom chats, a lot of inspirational chats with the boys, motivational chats, and try to help them through lockdown when it can be mentally hard to get through such a trauma. I’m so happy that we’ve got this technology now and can get them on the line, see them, communicate, and just keep them motivated. That’s the main thing for me. I’ve found it very overwhelming of how much some of the boys have been calling me and asking me questions.
For me, personally, this lockdown period’s been a great way for me to develop as a coach, as a person – and I’m now a chef as well! I can actually cook now! I’ve found different hobbies, so it’s all been about self-growth. I’ve been staying fit running around the park, not just eating and cooking, and showing my two sons how it goes and how quick I actually was once!
Carlton Cole and iPRO have teamed up to donate to Richard House Children’s Hospice and NSPCC. The two charities have been chosen by Carlton himself as West Ham fans will have an exciting opportunity to get involved with such a worthy activation - keep your eyes peeled for announcements next week!
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