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Football players are technicians who express themselves as part of a system thanks to their physical and mental abilities.
Let's start by talking about the close season, that period between the end of one league campaign and the start of another. It's a time when players can recover mentally and physically and recuperate from any end-of-season injuries.
Following a rest period of eight to 14 days, it involves a period in which players focus on building up their core attributes. This second rebuilding period will give them a base that will stand them in good stead when training resumes.
Players are advised to work on their:
coordination, agility, flexibility, dexterity, speed (intensity and step frequency), specific speed, horizontal and vertical jumps, postural training, aerobic endurance, strength (endurance), strength (elasticity), strength (speed) and strength (power), aerobic and anaerobic power.
When preparing for the season ahead, it is vital to work on strength, the most important aspect, especially when it comes to developing your speed. I'm going to suggest to you a series of different workshops that don't need any specific equipment and will help you build your muscles, speed and elasticity.
Strength increases thanks to muscle training and the formation of new muscle fibres. There are three types of strength:
- General strength
- Maximum strength
- Explosive strength
In football, it is power and explosiveness that count, the ability to develop maximum strength as quickly as possible.
It's important to include, during the course of the season as a whole, exercises for each muscle group. Every session of pre-season training should end with one. If you like stats, then keep a note of your longest time on the power tower, the time you spend on conditioning training, number of press-ups, etc. It's good fun and it'll help you stick at it.
The warm-up should also be tailored to your needs and take into account the type of training you're doing. I recommend a 10-minute jog at the end of the session, stretching properly and drinking enough water to prevent stiffness.
30 seconds working out, followed by a 30-second break and a quick changeover to the next workshop. Two players are needed for each workshop.
Training block 1 (four exercises)
Box jumps – crunches – header after a jump (from a bench for example) – right elbow to left knee crunches
Training block 2 (four exercises)
Bounding with hoops – press-ups – skipping – stomach conditioning
Training block 3 (four exercises)
Hopping (15 seconds continuously on one foot) – side press-ups – jumping over a bench (without touching it) – sitting headers
Muscle training is an important part of fitness training for football. Ideally you should have access to the right equipment (weights room), which can often be a problem for amateur clubs. That's why we're suggesting circuit training workshops focused on strength training and without the need for special equipment (or using any basic equipment the club possesses).
There should be between two and four players (if the group is big enough) and there are eight workshops (players should stay in their pairs for the hamstring workshop). Though the rules vary for each workshop, players spend five minutes on each one and have a minute to move on to the next. Players move from workshop to workshop in a clockwise direction. In terms of equipment you need one or two benches (or four chairs) one or two medicine balls (or heavy objects such as a full bottle of water), eight cones, a stopwatch and a whistle.
Press-ups: players should each perform five sets of 20 press-ups. They should keep their buttocks low and maintain the correct conditioning position.
Number crunches: players lie down on their back and rest on their elbows. With legs outstretched and slightly raised off the ground (5cm) they must use their legs to make every number from 0 to 20. Exercise to be performed three times in the time allotted.
Proprioception : players stand bare-footed on one leg, slightly bent, and must keep their balance while counting to 30. If they do it without difficulty, they must close their eyes. They should change legs every 30 seconds through to the end of the workshop.
Bench step-ups: set up two benches or four chairs beforehand. Players stand in front of the bench. They must put a foot on the bench and climb on to it using only the power generated by that foot and not by the foot on the ground. They then step down from the bench with the same foot and repeat the movement with the other foot. Ten repetitions per leg. Exercise to be performed three times in the time allotted.
Conditioning press-ups: One minute in the stomach position, 15-second break; 30 seconds on one side, 15-second break; 30 seconds on the other side. To be performed twice.
Hamstrings: players form pairs. One lies on their stomach and pulls a leg up until the heel is resting on their buttock. The other player then holds the bent leg and tries to make it harder for their partner to push it back to the prone position. NB: the other player should slow the leg's movement, not stop it from moving altogether! The other player can release the leg when it reaches 10cm from the ground. Exercise to be performed five times in a row on one leg and then on the other before the players switch over. Each player must perform the exercise at least twice but ideally three times.
Medicine ball: still in pairs, the players stand back to back and pass the medicine ball to each other by their side. Exercise to be performed for one minute, with three repetitions.
Calf-strengthening exercise: to be performed on a step or similar. Players stand on the edge of the step on the ball of their foot, allowing the heel or the rear half of the foot to drop below the level of the step. They then slowly raise their heel (it is important that the movement is slow) while keeping the front part of their foot stable on the step, before lowering it again slowly to the start position. Players complete two sets of 20 complete movements or three sets of ten.