Fitness is a huge part of the professional game. If you want to play at a higher level, you’ll need to work on becoming the most “fit” player on your team, and perhaps the fittest your league.
Throughout time and modern technology, we’ve gotten better and better at breaking down fitness into different categories to focus on with laser like focus. We have highly specialized trainers coming in and creating programs for players, and coaches are leaning towards the education of such trainers to decide what will help their team perform at a high level. This has it’s pros and cons because although it’s great for making improvements in different aspects of your physical self, i’d argue that it actually takes you away from what is truly important in the realm of football, which is playing the game.
The more time you spend outside of the pitch working on these aspects, means the less time you’ll have to train them on the pitch, focussing on developing everything that comes along with game-like situations.
I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to get you focussing on football first (<—super important) and secondly improve in the most important areas of your physical fitness. This will give you plenty of time to train effectively and efficiently on the field, and spend your time off the field making marginal gains towards your success.
We’re going to have to set the stage so you’ve got 100% clarity on how we’re going to achieve this.
“People often define fitness in non-football language. If you use non-football words when you talk about fitness, automatically you get non-football exercises to train fitness” - Raymond Verheijen
Raymond Verheijen is a Dutch conditioning expert who specializes in keeping fitness in the realm of football. That means that he doesn’t use fitness jargon (words like: aerobic, plyometric, VO2 max et cetera). Instead, he uses football specific actions to define football fitness. It’s a really practical way of looking at things, and though it might take a little while to get used to, it’s really beneficial for any dedicated player to understand.
To simplify, most people consider fitness as something outside of soccer, and when this happens, the training for fitness ends up being exercises outside of the sport. If a coach separates soccer training from fitness, they easily risk overloading the players and injury or burnout could occur (and if that doesn’t happen, the players risk wasting valuable time!)
Verheijen likes to combine football + fitness training so that they are one in the same.
My biggest take away from Verheijens theories of football fitness and periodization is this:
X - X - X - X - X - X - X
X -- X --- x ---- x ------- x
There are 4 qualities to this diagram.
The X’s represent the highest-quality actions — Playing at 100% making proper runs, passes, shots, tackles et cetera — and the smaller x’s are less high-quality actions (playing at 80%, 70% …).
The -’s represent time between actions: each dash could represent a 5 or 10 second moment) so the more dashes, the more time between actions.
Throughout a game, the ideal performance from a(n aspiring) professional footballer is to be able to do these 4 things:
1. Have High Quality Actions (Big X’s)
2. Maintain High Quality Actions (Keeping big X’s throughout the whole game, 90 minutes)
3. Having More Actions (per minute)
4. Maintaining More Actions (per minute)
So the goal is —> X - X - X - X - X - X - X
These fundamentals govern everything you do in football fitness. If you’re not working to approach this ideal state of being, you’re not dialing in your training in the areas that you need to.
Over the few weeks, I'll be rolling out the top tips I have on training Football Fitness.
There are 5 areas worth talking about and I’ll relate each of them back to the Football Fitness terminology and back to the 4 qualities that an ideal performance (X-X-X-X-X) requires.
No more running wasteful laps around a field, or doing biceps curls, we'll get into what will really be effective training for your football career.
Let's get this party started!
I love helping players optimize their soccer careers + lives through actualizing their potential.