Friday, 18 March 2011

Finish the season flying!

6 weeks left in the season and 10-15 games to play, what training should a football player/team be doing?
Let’s have a look at the facts shall we? Most teams, because of the winter backlog, now have 2 games every week until the end of March. Some even more.
So, during those 2 x 90 minutes the match demands are as follows:

·         10‐14km per game
·         2‐3.5km at a speed greater than 14kmh
·         800‐2000m at a speed greater than 20km.h‐1
·         Approx 1000 discrete actions (turns, acc’n, dec’n, jumps etc.)
·         The average heart rate is 78‐86% of the individual’s maximum heart rate.
·         40‐75mins above 85% individual’s maximum heart rate

So, if this is happening twice a week we can safely say that our aerobic conditioning is covered.

With 1600-3200m per week above 20kmh, we don’t need to include any lactate system training either. Plus, any lactate training would take 2-3 days to recover from. 2-3 days we just don’t have.

2000 discreet actions loading the leg muscles per week.
That’s 1000 single leg squats per leg!

You do not need to be training these areas any further. Plus, you have to be very careful not to further load these areas and reduce performance. Any relatively fit player should be able to manage 2 games per week no problem, but it’s the additional loading found in the training sessions that, although appear harmless, often hinder recovery.

You must be very careful with how much you load the legs during this period. The body will recover it’s CV system pretty quickly, but the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the muscular systems take much longer to recover. You should be very careful with any drills and plays that involve a lot of direction change and accelerating/decelerating.

Because we want to feel sharp, there’s a tendency to play small sided games and possessions. Be careful with these, they have a heavy loading on the legs.

Yes, we do need to keep feeling sharp, but that can be done in other ways.

TAKE THE BRAKES OFF!!

What do I mean? We need to look at what might be slowing us down rather than trying to do stuff to make us faster/sharper. When we get fatigued, muscles tend to work through a shorter range to prevent injury in the weaker outer range. These muscles are likely to get tight and build up with the waste products brought on by fatigue. Further causing reduced blood supply and nerve communication. We need to restore muscle quality so that blood can supply energy to them and neural communication is fast.

How can you do this?

Foam rolling (poor man’s massage)– This restores tissue quality and needs to be done daily at this time of year. Foam rollers can be found in most decent gyms and can be bought for £10 on the internet. 5-10mins minutes working on glutes, upper back (to aid breathing and posture); lat and shoulder muscles (again, posture); quads; groin; and calves. Type “foam rolling” on You Tube for examples of the exercises.

Stretch key areas – Stretch the major culprits - psoas group, inner thigh, hip external rotators, thoracic spine and the quadricep hip flexor.

Mobility drills - to increase active range of motion and fire up the correct muscles. These MUST be done with perfect posture otherwise they are just tiring exercises that compound poor movement patterns. This is where it’s quite important to be very careful if you’re introducing anything new. I would just do your normal football drills but focus on adopting a perfect posture throughout. That’s when you realise how poor your range of movement is and how much you’ve been compensating.

Posture and core work - This is the ability to hold posture against forces not sit ups or crunches. Focus on the ability to maintain perfect tall posture while resisting lateral, rotational or backwards/forwards. Stretch bands are great for this. Otherwise use a partner.

Body Position – Spend 5-10mins concentrating on the body positions you want to hit for direction change or accelerating. Posture, alignment and balance.
Speed Drill – Make it reactive, competitive and involve the movements you’ve been working on. Don’t let it last more than 5secs and 6 reps is enough with at least 1min recovery. This is all about quality.
Now go into tactical play. And keep it short.
A session designed like this will enhance recovery between games, keep players sharp and even improve their movement and speed on the pitch. That’s the difference between falling apart and finishing strong at the end of the season.
As always, I’d love to hear your comments. Please leave them below.
Yours in speed
Rob

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