Pre-Season Like A Pro

It’s that time again!

Before we can enjoy a successful season, we need to put some time and effort into a productive pre-season. By now, the pros have put a serious amount of time and effort (and buckets of sweat) into the process of conditioning their bodies after a break. It’s physically tough and mentally tougher, but they’ll reap the benefits through the season ahead.

Now it’s your turn.

Ok, you play in front of ten, instead of tens of thousands, but your aim is the same: to play well and win. Getting a good pre-season behind you is guaranteed to make a difference. Here is a glimpse at how top footballers do it:

WEEK ONE

The start of pre-season is all about getting those legs moving. Kick things off on Monday with some interval training, complete with jogs, 3/4 pace runs and full on sprints.

– 5 minutes jog

– 5 minutes 3/4 pace run

– 1 minute walk

– 4 minutes 3/4 pace run

– 1 minute walk

– 1 minute sprint

– 1 minute walk

– 1 minute sprint

Tuesday is all about endurance. That means a little jog and a few short sprints before heading into a circuit of press-ups, pull ups, inverted rows, split squats, glute bridge and sumo squats. You can take a rest Wednesday, before repeating your interval training drill again Thursday.

On Friday, you’re back in the gym (or working out at home) with a set of planks, side planks, glute bridges, split squats, sumo squats and swiss ball hamstring curls. In addition to this, 6 x 300 metre shuttle runs must be completed on the afternoon of each training day, to boost cardiovascular fitness. The good news is on Saturday you get to touch a football. The first touch drill will help you get your control back, kick starting that muscle memory with some basic pass and control set ups. Sounds fun right? But don’t get too excited, there’s a short interval session to run too.

WEEK TWO

Now it’s time to bring the upper body into play. This will help you to shield the ball and edge out an opponent in a physical battle. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday all begin with interval training, but in the afternoon’s it’s all about strength.

– Plank (20 seconds)

– Side planks (20 seconds each)

– Crucifix press up x 6

– Athletic posture kick backs x 6 (each leg)

– Clams x 10 (each leg)

– Straight leg abductions x 10 (each leg)

Friday begins with the same gym workout as last week and ends with a repeat of the circuit above. On Saturday, the ball returns with passing drills to recover your range of pass (but don’t forget to hit the gym too).

WEEK THREE

You’re halfway there and by now you probably feel more like jelly than a World Cup winning football star. That’s ok. You’ve laid the foundation for everything to come. Now it’s time to work on your acceleration. Your mornings are unchanged from last week, but your afternoon’s are now dedicated to speed and agility drills with the football. Set out some cones and work your way around the course, keeping control on the ball as you go. Saturday brings work on your play under pressure. You’ll need a friend or team mate to stand in as a defender for this one; and you’ll feel the benefit once you’re required to take possession in tight spaces.

WEEK FOUR

This week you’ll be spending your afternoon training sessions on jumps and leg work. Base level reactive jumps will improve your reactive strength. This is your ability to spring into action in whatever direction is required. In addition to making you quick off the mark, these drills will give you more power in a shot, and better leap at corners in defence or attack. That’s the good news. The bad news is: you don’t play with the ball this week. It’s all about strength and fitness.

WEEK FIVE

There’s fast and then there’s ”football fast”. That’s your speed over five yards, and that’s what week five is all about. Your afternoon workout involves reactive sprints with the ball. You’re only going 10 metres, but the objective is to cover the ground as quickly as possible, while keeping the ball under control. When Saturday comes, work on making space in tight areas. Again this is a team drill but it’s an invaluable one, because so much in football is accomplished without the ball. There is a knack to finding space in a crowded penalty area, but it’s a knack you can acquire with the right experience.

WEEK SIX

In the final week of pre-season preparation you will play a lot more football. The interval training still has to happen in the morning, but in the afternoon it’s onto the training pitch to apply your newfound fitness levels to the game itself. On Saturday, we arrive at perhaps the most important final drill of all: finishing. After all, the whole game is about getting the ball into the net. It’s time to make sure that when the opportunity arises, you’re ready to take the chance.

FUEL YOUR PRE-SEASON

All of that training is going to be tough. But without the right nutrition it might be virtually impossible. Energy intake is massively important. But it’s not just about the fuel you put in ahead of your workout; it’s about the fuel you replace. We recommend taking on high quality carbs between 30 and 60 minutes after your session, then maintain a reasonably high carb intake throughout recovery days. Protein is obviously very important too, so be prepared to enjoy plenty of meat, fish and eggs. Combine the right diet with the right preparation and you could be set for your best season yet. Who needs a friendly versus Tuvalu All-Stars?

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