Impetus’ French editor Jean-Pierre Thiesset spoke exclusively to Olympique Lyonnais’ fitness coach Romain Segui about his experiences of working with some of the world’s greatest footballers and the differences in coaching women and men.
Romain Segui was born on February 8, 1987, in Bourgoin Jallieu, France. After obtaining a training licence at the University Lyon 1 Claude Bernard from 2007 to 2010, Romain obtained a Masters in Mental Physical Preparation and Re-athleticism at the same university over the course of the following two years.
Above: Romain Segui supervising the training session before the friendly game against Fribourg (Switzerland) on July 31, 2021. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset for Impetus.
Then, anticipating the future and wanting to improve in new technologies, he passed another University diploma entitled Video Analysis and Expertise in Team Sports at the University Lille 2 Law and Health in 2013-2014 as part of continuing education with Olympique Lyonnais. Segui joined Olympique Lyonnais in July 2010 as an intern before then spent four seasons with the boy’s U15s side, before a two year spell with the boy’s U17 team. A further move saw Segui joined the men’s U19 group during the 2016/17 season. He also trained the U10 boy’s side during his four seasons with the U15.
Who inspired you to become a Fitness Coach in football?
Romain Segui (RS): Cyrille Dolce. I always name him because he is a great man who helped me a lot. He has been at the club for thirty years and he is a great educator both in football and human terms; he trains the man before training the player. He is my mentor as a coach. He helped me to easily integrate the club. When I arrived, I was young, I lived that as a child dream, and he “professionalized” me.
What made you move across to be a fitness coach in women’s football?
RS: It is rather an opportunity that I seized. I wanted to integrate professional football and in men it is difficult because the coaches very often came with their own staff. The women’s fitness coach role was vacant, and I was interviewed by Vincent Ponsot (OL General Director) who thought that I had the right profile for this position.
After nine years at the training centre, I had done just about everything with the young players, and I wanted to see something else. So, when we offer you to be the fitness coach of the players of the best women’s club team in the world, you from Lyon, and you say to yourself that you can play the Champions League and win it, then take the chance and sign the contract.
It a great privilege to work daily with Wendy Renard, Eugénie Le Sommer, Amandine Henry and all the other great players. My job is almost similar to the one of a fitness coach for men’s team because we have players which go to their national squad all over the world.
JPT: What does your job entail? RS: It is a little bit complicated because there are several elements. You must be able to prepare the player in different physical qualities which are endurance, speed, strength and flexibility so that she performs as well as possible without putting the sliders too high because otherwise you can injure her.
When there is an injury in football, it is always the fault of the fitness coach, so we have a big emphasis on injury prevention. For that, we perform testing to individualize the workload and ensure that each player has adapted preparation and prevention routines and be as precise as possible. After all, at some point, there are injuries following collisions and on that we cannot do anything.
There is also the data nowadays and this new technique which arrived in France since five to seven years with GPS which allow us to have a lot of data on the player: distance covered, distance walked, distance made in sprint, number of sprints, acceleration, deceleration, peak speed. We as fitness coaches, must be able to process and analyze all this data and report back to coaches. You still have to be careful not to interpret everything in numbers and let football do things; the feeling is also important, and the data must be taken into account because it help without becoming categorical with them.
So, the job is very varied. We prepare the players for the training session in the morning indoors, then during the training session we will do specific workshops, for example, to develop endurance during twenty to thirty minutes, and we will verify the workload on the players because we have all data in live and ensure that the goal set is reached during the workshops; if necessary, we will adjust the training, for example, by asking to the coach to add a game sequence in order to reach the workload wanted on the players.
We have also to manage the returns from injury and re-athleticism. Hopefully, this year I have an assistant, Rémi Pullara, who can take care of this part and we can work better.
I am lucky because it is not a repetitive job, and it is not boring. For example, one day we do endurance work and the next day speed work.