Does strength training feature in your team’s fitness programme?

Whether during pre-season or throughout the campaign, strength has become an important element in modern football.

The ability to produce and control forces is vital.

From acceleration - beating an opponent over the first few yards - or stopping - putting pressure on a rival to close them down quickly - to being robust in physical duels, stronger players can get the edge when it matters.

The intensity of games has increased over the last 15 years or so, also. While we know that the amount of work the average player does during a game has remained fairly consistent during that time, the intensity with which they do that work has increased massively.

Having a solid foundation of strength can help players cope better with the increased intensity and demands of the game, while recovery times and injuries of stronger players are much reduced as well.

Working in the gym is an obvious way of getting stronger, but how do you link what players do in the gym with what they do on the field, so they can build strength for football to improve their performance?

Understanding what you want your team and players to do is key. It will then enable you to create a training plan that focuses on those aspects.

Let’s consider one particular area that we mentioned previously – acceleration.

The ability to accelerate and change speed effectively is a key performance factor in modern football. Game-changing moments are often decided by the player who can accelerate quickest, change pace from a variety of positions and jump effectively to beat their opponent.

This is underpinned by the ability to produce and apply force into the ground effectively to move in the required direction as fast as possible. Without sufficient levels of basic strength, this ability to maximise the amount of force we can apply into the ground to produce movement will be compromised.

Squats would be one exercise that could help improve a player’s ability to accelerate quickly and apply high levels of force into the ground. We can increase both the ‘load’ used in the exercise, as well as increasing the speed at which the player can move that load.

This will help develop the ‘rate of force development’ (RFD) and will have a big transfer to the player’s ability to start quickly in different scenarios in the game. This can also be developed by more explosive exercises, such as squat jumps and counter-movement jumps.

It is important when we are working with players on this aspect that we maximise their ‘buy-in’ and commitment to strength training by continually referring to how each exercise will transfer to the areas you are working on. In the example above we looked at acceleration, but you may also be considering things such as sprinting, stamina or stopping.

In the Strength module of our Conditioning For Football CPD Course, our expert mentors Nick Harvey and Mark Armitage share their many years of experience within Premier League and International football to help coaches to understand the theory and science behind this important subject. They can then use this knowledge with their own players in their own environment.

It’s one of six modules that give coaches an in-depth understanding of how to develop their players for the physical challenges of the modern game; structure, strength, stamina, sprinting, stopping and starting.

Enrol on each module individually or subscribe to the MiMentor Platform for just £9.99 per month to gain access to the full course as well as all our other Coaching CPD Course, which include topics such as:

Decision Making In Football

The Principles of Play

Effective Communication

Building and Elite Culture

Emotional Intelligence

And many more...

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