In recent years football training has changed out of all recognition. Gone are the days when a quick kick-about followed by a few pints of beer was considered sufficient - football training at all levels now takes advantage of the research and methods used at the highest levels.
Part of the drive has come from assessment tools like Prozone, which show how far, and how fast, players run during a match. Knowing what the requirements are enables coaches to design football training programs that address the exact needs in match situations.
There are a number of elements to football training, all of which must be included if sessions are to be effective:
- Endurance: Research shows that players routinely cover in excess of 10 kilometres during a game. Thus endurance workouts must prepare players to cover at least 10km in order to be meaningful.
- Intervals: In addition to the sheer endurance needed, players will spend between and 10 and 20% of their time sprinting. Interval workouts, with short sprints and partial recovery, will prepare players for the demands of a game.
- Jumping: Players in all positions need to be able to head the ball effectively, and part of that comes from having a good vertical leap. Weight training and plyometrics work will improve this.
- Weight training: Increasing a player's strength will contribute to their ability to perform all the various skills required.
- Flexibility: Flexibility work can increase performance and reduce the risk of injuries.
- Agility: Agility drills prepare players for the type of fast turns and movements encountered in a game.
In addition to these pure physical elements, time still has to be found for game situations and more tactical elements, plus, at the higher levels, work to address the psychological elements of performance.