Coach picks up tips from top commandos.
Under-21 coach Kevin Ball picked up some tips in a different arena recently as he spent a couple of days amongst crack Royal Marine commandos.
The former Sunderland captain spent two days at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines at Lympstone, Devon.
The base handles all training requirements for new recruits and Ball was afforded an insight into the process when he was invited to sit in on a special course.
He was brought up to speed with the selection process as well as some of the initial training Royal Marine recruits go through before progressing onto the main programme.
And learning from elite soldiers was a valuable lesson for Ball, who says he picked up some valuable tips to take back to Wearside.
“A friend of mine brought a teachers and influencers course that was going on down at Lympstone and asked if I’d like to attend, which I was more than happy to do,” he explained.
“I sat in on some of the seminars, met some of the people and a few of the recruits who are actively in training now.
“It was really interesting to find out about how they teach the lads at a foundation stage and get the basics right before they actually begin their full training.
“Everything about the way they operate is very good and it was a very informative trip.”
The Royal Marines, who make up the Royal Navy’s infantry presence, are widely regarded as one of the world’s top specialist military units.
The corps can be traced back as far as 1664 and takes only the best recruits – something which definitely came across to the visitor from Sunderland.
“At the end of the day they’re an elite fighting force,” Ball said.
“It was a really enjoyable few days and I have the utmost respect for them.
“Everything was thoroughly well organised and it was great to learn from elite commandos.
“They’re developing young people to do a certain job while also developing them as people, just as we are, and that’s one of the reasons I went.
“I enjoyed the discipline around the camp – there’s a hierarchy and everyone understands where they are in the pecking order.”
The classroom sessions were followed by a trip into the field as Ball was escorted right into the middle of a training exercise.
“We went up onto a moor during a training exercise and were talking away when the Marine said to me – ‘there’s 50 guys hiding around here at the moment; four of them are watching us right now’,” he explained.
“I thought ‘yeah, good one’, but then they stepped into the open and I couldn’t believe it.
“They’d been there all night. It was unbelievable.
“When we travel to a game we are fed and watered, sometimes stay in a hotel and they have to play 90 minutes.
“Those commandos can lie in wait for days and weeks on end – the mentality they display is fantastic.”