Hector Bellerin is without question one of the fastest players in the Premier League - but that hasn’t always been the case.
The Spaniard joined us from Barcelona in 2011 and worked with our academy coaches to develop his strength, pace and power as he was converted from a winger to a full back.
Bellerin would eventually make his first-team breakthrough away to Borussia Dortmund in 2014 but, as our academy’s head of sports medicine and athletic development Des Ryan explains, the youngster would not have made that step without his hard work and dedication behind the scenes.
“He was a high-level player from the word go, and we knew we could help the progress of his natural talent with the benefits of sports medicine and athletic development, particularly in the area of movement, skills and strength,” he told Arsenal Player.
“We used programmes based around functional competence, mobility stability, flexibility and running technique. We knew his natural talent could help him develop even further in the areas of speed repeatability and top-end speed, and Hector was a player who applied himself to this.
“In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it’s Hector who’s got himself to where he is with the commitment that he puts into the training programmes, we just provided the care, the challenge and the support.
“I remember that we would conduct speed tests - we still do - and also filmed him to assess his running technique. It was clear from the early videos that there was potential there. You could see energy leaks side to side when Hector was running, so if we could tidy that up and show him different exercises, we knew we could make him even faster.
“Initially we worked with him on his flexibility because if there are particular joints that are tight and less mobile, there are exercises that we can do to loosen those up. Once he’d done those exercises, it increased his stride so he was able to get from point A to point B much faster. Then he did a lot of work with our physios and conditioners in the areas of mobility and stability, before gradually easing into strength to develop his power.
“Let me be clear that this was an evolution not a revolution because he was already very fast! He was already very talented but we’re very proud of him for what he’s achieved through his hard work, and he’s now become one of the fastest players in the fastest league in the world.”
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