The difference between football and every over sport. Nothing.

Twitter has become a little more interesting recently. I started following Raymond Verheijen (@raymondverheije) and Craig Duncan (@DrCraigDuncan) and enjoy reading the ‘discussions’ between two leading football practitioners. I don’t currently work in football so my knowledge of Verheijen was limited until I came across some articles about football periodisation including one on the BBC sport website. As a S&C coach, it’s a standard term so I figured here was someone willing to delve a little deeper with the public into some of the sport science support and training principles used in professional football. Brilliant I thought, as this is an area that seems very rarely to be covered in the media, and some education for football fans into what the players go through at the training ground.

Then I started to read, I read about managing training volume on an individual basis dependant upon training tolerance, box ticked. I read about completely dismissing doing two sessions a day, each to their own maybe. Then I read about football is fitness and fitness is football.

If all you had to do to get fit for a sport was to play it, then strength and conditioning wouldn’t exist. Gyms wouldn’t exist. Rugby players would just play touch rugby in training, tennis players would just have a hit up, rowers would just row and training would get pretty boring for runners. I don’t see how football is any different. You accelerate, you decelerate, you change direction, you jump and you exert force onto an external object. To do that you need to be able to produce and control forces with good postural control and correct neural recruitment. Sound biomechanics developed as part of a long term athlete development plan including strength based training, metabolic conditioning and technical training is used in every sport, why can’t it be used in football.

The answer is that it is. Many S&C practitioners in football work like this. They do their jobs, they keep their heads down and they concentrate on coaching their athletes as part of a support team. They discuss and share what they do with their contemporaries for free (including those from other sports), that’s part of reflective practice. They don’t comment on the work of their contemporaries publicly without full knowledge of the facts. They work with the technical coaching staff to help educate them on some of the sport science so words like anaerobic and aerobic don’t sound like nonsense, and they work with the technical coaching staff to be educated on some of the finer technical nuances of the sport so that the work they do is the best possible they can produce.

The reason 10 different S&C coaches may use 10 different training methodologies is that they’re working with 10 different sets of playing and coaching staff with 10 sets of widely varying training histories, responses and needs and different philosophies on how to play the game. That’s a lot of variables which would explain why different approaches exist, in the same  way every football team doesn’t play the same way.

Neil Welch

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