After the match against the Czech Republic, the bad game was mainly raised as the main reason for the European Championship‘s elimination, but other factors have now been pointed out. The Netherlands traveled to the hot Hungary only one day before the race and top physiologist Jos Geijsel and former hockey coach Marc Lammers don’t understand much of that. “The Netherlands fell into the same trap as thirty years ago.”
The Netherlands played the first three group games in its own Johan Cruijff Arena and had to move to Budapest in Hungary for the eighth final against the Czech Republic, where it was over 30 degrees. A big difference from the Netherlands, where it averaged twenty degrees. On the day of the game with North Macedonia, it was fifteen degrees in the Netherlands. The players had visibly trouble with the hot weather in Hungary.
Unbelievable that you‘re only travelling to Hungary 24 hours before the race when conditions (heat) are so different. It makes sense that they have lamb, slum and heavy legs.
— Marc Lammers (@MarcLammers) June 27, 2021
Lammers, who was the national coach of the women’s hockey team for eight years, questioned the preparation of the Netherlands after the elimination. He has a lot of experience in difficult weather conditions, which in his eyes should not be underestimated. “My players always complained about the heat the first day after a trip and that they were slow. They were often cranky,” Lammers says to Football Primeur. “It‘s not just the temperature, but the humidity is different there as well. It is said that the Czech Republic traveled shortly in advance, but they were already in the same climate. They’re used to that, our players don‘t. My lesson was always to travel as early as possible so you can get used to the best possible way.”
“The body just needs a few days to adapt so it can deliver that peak performance,” says Lammers. “We were often in China and you’re dealing with smog. A difference of eight degrees is already a lot, but this was suddenly a jump to over thirty degrees. When I arrived in Australia, not only did my players suffer from jet lag, but they were lamb with the heat too.”
‘The Netherlands makes the same mistake as thirty years ago’ also there is misunderstanding at Geijsel. He has worked in the world of ice skating, triathlon, water polo world, cycling and hockey world. He was also an exercise physiologist at Ajax from 1990 to 2006 and was part of Guus Hiddink‘s technical staff at the 1998 World Cup. Geijsel does not understand that the Netherlands did not go to Hungary before. “They fell into the same trap as thirty years ago: not acclimatized going to a hot country. That has happened again, yes,” Geijsel refers to the 1990 World Cup, which was held in Italy.
Leo Beenhakker was both coach of Ajax and national coach of the Dutch team at the time. “He didn’t have much time to interfere with the preparation of the Dutch team because Ajax preceded. Federal Arts Frits Kessel then invented to sit on a mountain in Yugoslavia, given the plateau (area above 500 metres above sea level, ed.). But in the week before the World Cup it was stony cold and rainy on that mountain, while it was bloody hot in Italy.” The 1990 World Cup was annoyed by a lot of turmoil around the Dutch team, which was eliminated by West Germany after the pool phase. However, icing also points to weather conditions as a potential cause for poor performance. He received a call from Kessel after the World Cup. “How we did that in hockey. On major tournaments, the standard rule should be that you are on the spot one week in advance to get used to the climate, eating, sleeping and the rest. The more familiar the environment, the better players come to their own.”
Disunderstanding about schedule KNVBadmittedly, it‘s easy to point to external factors after a shutdown. The Czech Republic simply managed things better than the Netherlands, but the reality is that too many players of the Dutch team dropped through the lower boundary and didn’t look like themselves. Geijsel thinks the Netherlands would have performed considerably better if the preparation was arranged differently. “They should have gone straight to Hungary after the race against North Macedonia.”
“It‘s incomprehensible that they haven’t done that,” he continues. “Zeist was carefully trained in cool conditions, while staying in air conditioning hotels and air conditioning rooms all day long, because the players sleep well. You can, but only the first few nights. After that, the temperature should be raised, because you need to get used to the heat.”
“Scientific research has shown that if the temperature difference is ten or more degrees, you need at least five days for optimal acclimatization. That‘s been known for forty years. Frank de Boer was part of the 1994 World Cup selection and must have known that theplayers of the Dutch team went to America a week in advance to get used to the heat. If he had consulted his memory, he would have chosen for a week, I think. But maybe he didn’t experience it that much at the time, because you‘re going into the flow of the group.” Frenkie de Jong said at Decceit afterwards that “it seemed like we were tired, I don’t know why.” “That‘s impossible for a team that’s trained like that. It has everything to do with the fact that they only travelled one day before the race for incomprehensible reasons and it has been relatively cool in the Netherlands,” says Geijsel critically. “Traveling only one day before the race is never good, but it‘s not at all in these circumstances. They trained in Zeist once a day and sat in a hotel in the woods, but in an air conditioning hotel and air conditioning rooms. Then your body doesn’t get used to the warmth. In fact, it‘s just despoiling.”
“When you travel on Saturday, the heat falls around you like a warm blanket,” says Geijsel. “During the warm-up you saw them sweating tremendously. That indicates that they weren’t used to sweating behavior. They haven‘t had a shot at goal, while the players are technically much better than the Czech Republic. In that area it has been hot for the past few weeks, so in the other countries around it.” Lammers, who became world champion with the hockey ladies in 2006 and won a silver and gold medal at the Olympics in 2004 and 2008, wanted nothing to chance in preparing his teams. In hockey world, a lot of attention is paid to weather data. “We always trained on intensity after a trip to turn the body on, but for the rest it was easy to relax. Our players were not allowed to get into the air conditioning either, because then the difference would be too big. We were always tested in Papendal climate chambers.”
In a climate chamber, a desired climate can be simulated so players are better prepared for other weather conditions. “Some players never suffered from asthma. But when they got into those climatic chambers where humidity was a bit higher, they suddenly had difficulty breathing and the heart rate went up fast,” he says.
“I heard the players complain that they were loom and I recognized it right away from my players. It’s no certainty that you would have won otherwise,” Lammers adds directly to that, “but I‘ve always had a full hundred percent influence on the preparation for the full. That’s what I tried to do everything to perfection. It‘s a theme that’s underestimated.”
(Tim van Duijn/soccer first)