While many teams have been busy playing games and finishing their seasons, others haven’t kicked a ball for months as some leagues chose not to resume after lockdown.

It means players will be at various stages of fitness, some needing a rest to recover, while others are looking to get back to where they need to be in readiness for competitive games to begin next season.

So, a suitable fitness and conditioning programme will be more important consideration than ever for managers and coaches to ensure their players are in the right shape for when their pre-season campaign gets going.

Our free guide, ‘Planning an Integrated Pre-season Programme’, gives coaches key tips, philosophies and ideas that will help them to understand what is right for their team and players, so they hit the ground running.

The guide complements our extensive Conditioning For Football cpd course, led by our MiMentor fitness experts Nick Harvey and Mark Armitage. Both mentors share their knowledge and experiences from working at the highest levels within the Premier League and at the international level. Coaches who enrol on the course will be able to take ideas and practices shared and utilise these with their teams. However, coaches will also have the ability to create their own fitness and conditioning sessions from the knowledge gained to implement into their environment, suitable for their teams and the way they want to play.

The course looks at the Conditioning Continuum – from isolated fitness and strength training to integrated methods with game-related sessions.

“I could not recommend this enough. The content is suitable for senior, youth and female teams and provides coaches with practical sessions and progressions."

Radek Mozyrko, ex-Legia Warsaw Acedemy Manager

Below, we begin to explore some of the isolated training methods used in the course for three key areas of football fitness: stamina, strength, and sprinting.

It will give you some ideas to consider and share with your players for them to work on while on their own, or with friends, or during the off-season break.

Depending on how you want your team to play will depend on how you should get them to train.

For example, for a team that likes to adopt a high-press, you may need to focus on speed, stamina and strength. Some areas that players should focus on during this off-season period are:

  • Progressive conditioning, such as interval running.
  • Strength training to develop the robustness to cope with high-intensity loads during team training and games.
  • High speed running and change of direction work to prepare for the specific demands of integrated training when football resumes.

These types of exercises will support sprinting, starting and stopping strength, which are all fundamentals for adopting a pressing style of football.

Before undertaking any fitness training, players should always ensure they warm up properly to help prevent injury.

Stamina

One way to maintain and improve stamina in an isolated training environment is through Maximal Aerobic Speed (MAS) running.

Mark out a running distance outside on a field or open space, suitable for your players and what they might be expected to run within a game, eg 50 yards, with a ten-yard recovery at each end.

Players must complete the run within a specified time, before walking the recovery section and attempting the run again. Progressions or adaptations could be for distances and times of the running and recovery and the number of repetitions.

Strength

Strength provides the foundation of a lot of other key physical qualities required in the game and training will prepare players for the intensity of match play and reduce the risk of injury. It will also improve their ability to recover between games.

Strength training for football players should prioritise quality over quantity to support on-field performance. Consider exercises such as squats (for acceleration), Romanian deadlifts (for sprinting), single-leg hops (for stopping) and pull-ups (for general strength).

Players who don’t have access to gym weights may need to improvise to establish resistance. Three sets of six repetitions is a good place to start.

Sprinting

The ability to sprint fast repeatedly throughout a game is fundamental in the modern game and higher speed running (HSR) demands have increased significantly over recent years.

While starting speed is important due to the many high-intensity actions that involve quick accelerations over short 5-15m distances, depending on their position players are also required to sprint maximally, or near maximally, over longer distances.

There are many different situations when sprinting will be needed, so hamstring/posterior chain strength and ankle strength and stiffness is important. Players can work on this during the off-season with exercises like Nordics (assisted or banded) or the box bridge, which can develop and maintain hamstring strength and can be done anywhere.

Incorporating calf raises and depth jumps will work on the ankle to enable players to transfer as much force as possible into the ground when running. Again, three sets of six repetitions a good place to start.

If your players incorporate these ideas into a weekly training plan to carry out two or three times per week, it will enable them to stay in good physical shape for when team training resumes for the new campaign.

Our Conditioning for Football course gives coaches an in-depth understanding of all these areas for training and also looks specifically at starting and stopping, as well as how to build a fully structured fitness and conditioning programme for your team.

The course also shares a library of exercise and practices that go from the isolated end of the Conditioning Continuum to the more integrated end, when players can train in game-related situations.

MiMentor subscribers get full access to the course for as little as £9.99 a month. Alternatively, you can sign up for individual modules, or the full course.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Planning an integrated pre-season programme
Make sure your players hit the ground running
We explore some key isolated Conditioning For Football training methods to get your players ready for pre-season.
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