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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Training Priorities for a Local/Amateur Footballer


It's off-season time again and for all local/amateur footballers, the most important training time of the year in my opinion.

My rationale is that L/A football club coaches have very limited resources and time, so team training usually follows a cookie cutter approach where everyone does the exact same thing.

What happens here is that the fittest blokes get a very good hit out each training session as they dominate the running drills (are they getting better though? Another topic for another time...), the next level down will be pretty fit come the end of pre-season if they can get through the initial weeks and the rest simply do too much then their bodies can handle resulting in huge system fatigue and a high potential for short and long term injury risk.

What the off'season allows for is the time and resources to improve on an individual level, where the most benefits will com from.

Below I've listed, in order, what you should focus on and prioritise in your off-season training period, which is from now until the first night of pre-season training.

I'll lay out some levels to aim for so if you already tick off #1, then had to #2 and so on.

That being said you can tackle multiple points at the same time with a personalised programming approach (I know that my women's post but blokes can get in on this too).

#1 - Body Composition

We're talking bodyfat levels here where there's no need to pay $150 for a dexa scan or anything - simply put that if you have a beer gut then get rid of it. Decreasing excess mass will make you faster and with more endurance simply from doing just that and nothing else as it costs less energy to move a lighter load then a heavier one.

Don't go all silly ad go off the grog completely if it's not gonna work but cut down where you can. Those 3 - 4 beers you have after work can probably go can't they?

On the eating side of things can the pies, pastries and chips for more protein, fruits and veggies.

Minimal change for maximal results!

#2 Sprinting Speed (Acceleration/Max Velocity)

In the NFL what's the number 1 test recruiters look at? The 40m sprint.

In the AFL, along with the Yo-Yo test, what's the next things recruiters look at? The 20m Sprint.

There are plenty of players in local/amateur leagues who could reach near elite levels in the Yo-Yo test if they're careers were at stake, but not many of them can run 20m in under 3secs, which is what rally sets the elite apart from us normals.

The 20m sprint test acceleration which is crucial for football as most sprints are acceleration in nature because as soon as you need to deviate off your line even a centimeter, you're essentially braking and then you need to re-accelerate in another direction.

That being said I still believe max velocity/top end speed needs to be trained because you'll reach it in training and in games from residual fatigue, and when you do reach it is when you'll tear a hammy so to avoid injury at high speeds, train at high speeds.

A flying 10m sprint of 1.2secs or so is a good measure of top end speed.

#3 - Aerobic Capacity

Base fitness. Tun in the legs. Foundation running. We all know what this is but it's not usually trained optimally.

Aerobic Capacity is usually measured in how far you can cover a certain distance which is wrong because that means at some point you will be working in the upper regions of submaximal speed, if not maximal speed, which means you;re not training aerobic capacity.

Having adequate aerobic capacity means that you can do more less at low intensities before fatigue sets in, your recovery between of acceleration and max velocity sprints is greater meaning you can repeat high speed more often and also your recovery between training sessions and games will be faster so you can train more days with greater intensity.

Remember it's not how much you can do when you're already tired, it's how much you can do before you get tired.

Aim to get your resting heart rate somewhere in the mid to high 50's, and your your heart rate to drop about 20 beats within 1 minute of intensive activity.

#4 - Maximum/Relative Strength

When you hit the gym you've got to make it efficient and above all effective. Adequate maximum strength levels is the base of all other strength qualities unless you're a genetic freak. Speed starts with strength to move mass. Power is submaximal max strength. Endurance is potentially greater when paired with high strength.

Train the big 5 80% of the time in the gym - deadlift, squat, bench press, chin up and row.

Aim for these targets:

Deadlift 1.25 x bodyweight x 3 - 5 reps
Squat 1.25 x bodyweight x 3 - 5 reps
Bench Press 1 x bodyweight x 3 - 5 reps
Military Press .75 x bodyweight x 3 - 5 reps
Row 1 x bodyweight x 3 - 5 reps

#5 - Lactic Power

Quick energy systems lesson.

You have 3 main energy systems - alactic (high speed/short duration), lactic (dependent on alactic/aerobic levels but is essentially the point where you blow up)and aerobic (slow speed.long duration).

Each 3 energy systems has a capacity and a power component.

Capacity is continuous/short rest work and power is 1 all out/fully rested effort.

Most footy teams will go straight to capacity for everything which can be a pointless exercise because if you're not fast over a fully fresh 20m sprint, how can be fast for anything after that, especially when fatigued?

Lactic Power is trained for sets of 20 - 30secs all out sprints with full rest which can be a bit a hassle in a team setting but if you place some easy skill/tactical work in the rest periods, you can make it work.

#6 - Hypertrophy

Getting back to the gym, if you're slight of frame, have some high injury area's or a bit weak over the ball then you might just need to gain some weight which will probably also coincide with a requirement of greater max/relative strength from point #4.

I'd still have you focus on the big 5 for the most part but insert some higher volume stuff in there as well and a LOT of food.

Once running comes around you'll find it near impossible to add weight which is why the off-season exists.

When I was a young tacker I put on 7kgs of bodyweight in about 2 months from 3 weight sessions a week, granted I was a whippet at 55kgs at 18 years of age.

#7 - Repeat Speed

Going back to our quick energy systems lesson in #5, repeat speed is lactic capacity. It is the ability to sprint at high speed, recover quickly and do it again and again and again.

Like I said though if you're not fast in 1 sprint then you won't be for any others so it's crucial that you first develop max speed then move to this.

Again most footy teams go straight into this regardless of the players' speed levels making it a complete waste of time.

Also training for lactic capacity has about a 3 - 4 life span so you really need to only start doing it in February, not doing repeat 300's in December.

Need a hand with any of these? I can help.

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