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Managing the close season

No sooner have we started playing football again than we've finished and the time has come to discuss who's leaving and who's joining the club: yes, the close season is here!

Managing the close season

No sooner have we started playing football again than we've finished and the time has come to discuss who's leaving and who's joining the club: yes, the close season is here! This is a vital period in terms of the season ahead and it needs to be managed properly. The way you approach it will depend on the standard of football your team plays. The model I'm going to propose to you is for amateur football (league/district).    

The close season

These first few days are all about letting go of the pressure that's built up over the season. Some of you will have been playing several times a week and others almost every Sunday. If you've been training non-stop, what you need to do first of all is switch off completely for a week or a fortnight. It's important to start exercising again no later than four weeks after your last match or training session so that your cardiovascular capacity doesn't decrease too much. If you haven't been training over the last few months, then it's time to get back to work. 

 

The close season
Running-muscle-strengthening

General fitness training

Having taken your break, it's time for some general fitness training. This can involve playing other sports or running without a watch or a heart rate monitor and changing the routes you take. In short, it's all about getting back into the rhythm of exercising without putting pressure on yourself.

Then, when July comes around, it's time to move away from general fitness work to something more specific. You'll need to work on your core stamina first of all (running at your aerobic threshold = 70% of your maximum heart rate) and then move on to Fartlek (alternating between faster and slower running in an outdoors setting). There are no specific rules to follow; all you have to do is vary your pace and the distances you run to suit your needs. Finish off with some intermittent shuttle runs (15-15, 30-30).  

It's also worth doing some muscle strengthening exercises: press-ups, core strength (dynamic exercises if possible and all year round), lower limbs (strength cycle, jump training), and injury prevention (proprioception, coordination, hamstring-stretching routine, etc).

 

Specific fitness training and pre-competition period

You've followed your coach's restart programme and you've got things back under control again. At amateur level, this period usually starts in late July/early August.

This is when you start training with the team again: fitness tests (ideally at the start and the end of the preparation period to assess your development), ball drills, personalised fitness work, friendly matches. 

After a long time without playing, you can now assess the quality of your preparations for the season ahead.

 

The close season
Guillaume-Clément

Guillaume Clément 

Sales assistant at DECATHLON

I've been playing since I was five and started out as a forward. With my two left feet and my nickname "Pikachu", it wasn't long before I was out on the wing. Sharp and pacy, I like to run down the channels and pull the ball back or hit it low across the face of the goal. I'm inspired by modern-day full-backs and that's where I happen to play now. I love fitness training and I'm always reading up about it (sports science and technology, books, leading fitness coaches and social media) and sharing what I know.