Pre-Season Training – There IS Another Way

Pre-Season – There is another way

 

The sun has finally come out. It’s pushing 30º in some places. That can only mean one thing. Football coaches across the land are flogging their players in pre-season training.

 

Is this through scientific knowledge of the human physiology and how it adapts to stimulus?

 

Or is it because that’s the way it’s always been done?

 

I was talking to a local rugby coach last night after their training session and he said that numbers were low tonight.

 

And the reason?

 

Players hate the first few sessions of pre-season. You’re going to be run til you’re sick. Technique doesn’t matter because the ball is rarely involved so just run til you drop.

 

Who the hell wants to go to that? Those that do turn up, go in with a survival mentality.

 

There are several problems with this approach to pre-season.

  1. Turn out is low because players don’t like humiliation.
  2. This sadistic style undermines player confidence and self belief
  3. Taking players into such fatigue that technique and form are hugely compromised is one of the key factors that lead to injury.
  4. Pre-season has the highest injury rate of any other period in the year. By a huge margin. See 3.
  5. Fitness is very specific. High volume = Low intensity. If this is how you want to play then fine, but as soon as you increase the intensity and speed your body won’t be accustomed to it so you will still struggle to recover.
  6. Hard pitches and high temperatures are awful conditions for lots of high volume running.

 

So what’s the feasible option?

 

The short to long system.

 

Work on perfecting the basic technical skills and get used to the desired match intensity. Once match intensity is established, increase the volume and decrease the recovery until we reach match conditions.

 

Here’s why this works better:

  1. Get much better turn out because they don’t associate it with pain. It constantly feeds their confidence and self belief.
  2. Technical work and high intensity work requires longer pauses for coaching and recovery. Ideal for the summer weather conditions. In theUKwe have such a small window for this. In winter months, everything has to be short recoveries to stay warm.
  3. Intended match intensity is established early doors and regularly practiced.
  4. The body gets used to working at very high speed and high intensity. You don’t have to ask for more, just progress the volume and recoveries.
  5. You can’t endure what you haven’t got. Train speed first, then speed endurance. Strength first, then strength endurance. Power first… you get the picture.
  6. Practice makes permanent. You practice slow, guess what you’re going to get? So practice fast.
  7. It’s easy to know when to stop and monitor progression. When technical proficiency deteriorates or intensity falls below required level – STOP. Time recoveries and watch for improvements.
  8. You are constantly building confidence and players are used to feeling sharp. Pre-season should culminate in a massive session to boost mental toughness and ability to endure. But because you have instilled technical proficiency and intensity, breakdown is less likely to occur so injury risk is much lower.

 

IN summary, do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you always got. Maybe it’s time to put some thought into the physical preparation side of pre-season. Because of our weather conditions in theUKit makes a lot of sense and I believe this type of reverse periodisation will become very popular in the not too distant future. I know several other top coaches already applying it.

 

So, get ahead of the pack and try this approach. I’ve been using it for a couple of years with my clients. If you want to try it and don’t know where to start, leave a comment here or on the Facebook page and I’ll be more than happy to help out.

 

Yours in speed

 

Rob

Football – It’s All In The Hips (part 1)

I was working with a tennis player this week who has a chronic groin problem. His lack of hip mobility means that, in order to make the shots he wants to, he has to compensate through his spine.

Ideally, his legs and footwork should get him to the shot, keeping perfect posture throughout the stroke. This perfect posture will keep his head still through the shot and enable him to see his opponents movements in his peripheral vision. Not only this, always having great postural alignment gives a consistent, repeatable technique that has optimal transfer of power from hips into the racket.

The tightness he has in his groin means he can’t sink his hips low enough to hit low volleys, half volleys and ground strokes correctly. To make up the deficit, he has to bend at the spine. This gets him close enough to play the shot.

The ramifications for this are huge. As his spine bends, the torso rotates differently which means his hands have to compensate and reach to make contact. In effect he’s inventing a new shot every time. Power is lost in the shot, and because his centre of gravity has shifted further towards the edge of his base of support, he is not as quick to recover. What’s most significant though is that, as his spine flexes and one shoulder drops, his head has moved with them and they are no longer level. This makes hand eye co-ordination less accurate and as he follows the ball, he loses sight of the other side of the court, and hence his opponent’s movements.

What the he’ll has any of this got to do with football?

It's nothing new. He knew what he was doing back in 1974

A change of direction in football – with or without the ball – poses the same problem. If you’re moving relatively quickly, you have to sink the hips to decelerate and change direction. Top players  will maintain an upright posture while doing this (Zinedine Zidane was fantastic at this so no excuses for you big guys).

This sinking of the hips means that you can keep a straight torso. This small difference allows you to keep your eye on the flow of the game while changing direction and losing your marker. Once the cutting movement is complete, because you’ve had your eyes on the game throughout the move, you”ve created the space needed and slot that incisive pass or drive into the available space.

Let’s now assume you have poor core strength and hip mobility. As you sink to change direction, your spine flexes and your head drops. Eyes are on the floor at this point. Not by choice but by physical necessity. As they slowly drag themselves out of the cut (trust me, you ARE slow if you aren’t dropping your centre of gravity low enough) you lift your head to look for your pass. For the next .2-.5 of a second your eyes are trying to catch up with the game. Then you find your man and start to make the pass. Too late, you need to push it again to create yourself a bit more space and the game moves on.

Without postural (pillar) strength and the necessary hip mobility you will always be playing 1-2secs behind the top players. Glass half empty

Work on your pillar strength and hip mobility and you will be able to play at a much higher standard than you currently are. Without feeling rushed.  Glass half full!

Don’t be silent. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Yours in speed

Rob

%d bloggers like this: