S&C and football, where’s the link?

I listened to couple of pieces on five live this morning and evening, both were discussing pre-season football training. The interview this morning was with an ex pro turned personal trainer talking about body image and how, in his opinion, players in the lower leagues were more interested in body image as a result of their training rather than performance outcomes. The second this evening was with several ex pros and a couple of managers discussing pre-season and different methods.

The body image point is a good one and I’m sure body image is a factor with the majority of athletes, I know it’s something that has come up one way or another with probably every athlete I’ve worked with. I explain to my athletes that an athletic physique is a natural by product of training and eating well and pointing to examples of other athletes within the sport is a useful way to demonstrate this. It seems that the culture within the sport could be to blame. A lot of footballers I know (I haven’t worked with any on a professional basis yet) don’t know what strength and conditioning is and wouldn’t lift weights if they couldn’t sit down on a large machine to do it. This is shown through the media, I’ve never seen strength and conditioning getting a mention in any article, every team seems to have a fitness trainer who will put the team through their paces though. The majority of other sports seem to have bought into S&C and athletes when interviewed will name drop the field at least.

Relating to this, the evening discussion was full of 7 mile runs in a different location each day so the lads didn’t get bored, 8 week breaks after the season and even the suggestion of playing a full game every 2 days throughout pre-season (you’d have to change the name to the pre-season season though). It leads me to conclude that football, particularly in the lower leagues, is in dyer need of some education as to what proper preparation to play a multi-sprint, multi-direction, field team ball game is. It would be interesting to measure the effect on injury rates by comparing clubs who brought in S&C coaches to work with their players against those who didn’t. I’ll bet if you were able to present the benefits in terms of playing hours and related to wage bills you’s suddenly find a lot more demand for S&C.

Neil Welch

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