How to train...like a footballer!
Players from all over the world dream of becoming a professional, but what can give you the edge to take your game to high-performance level? I believe the answer lies in physical and mental fitness as well as making consistent healthy nutritional choices.
Below I have touched on some of the key components of physical fitness, as well as some nutritional tips to boost your performance.
A football player should have a strong aerobic base. Thus, you should have a good level of strength-endurance and stamina. Physiological studies show that players travel approximately 8 miles during a match. This distance is made up of a variety of movements and speeds, you should therefore engage your training time using a combination of the following activities to help enhance your football specific stamina:
Be sure to perform these movements in various directions, for distances specific to your position and in a stop start fashion to mimic the nature of the game. Think about it, how many times in a match will you be required to do a continuous jog for 5km straight? You can use your training time much more effectively and efficiently! This will help you to maintain high and low intensity movements for the full 90 minutes, and training like this will provide you with better results.
Strength is a very important component of fitness for football but unfortunately, we do not give it much attention. You must keep in mind that strength is the base for your speed and power. Strength not only helps you to hold off the opponents but has many other benefits such as:
- Fast metabolism
- Lean body
- Injury resistance
- More energy
- Enhanced balance and stability
For football, a strength-training program should focus on functional and compound exercises such as squats, step-ups, lunges, dips, and pull-ups to name a few. Performing compound exercises will ensure a good level of strength throughout the body and help correct and minimize the effects of muscular imbalances.
Speed and agility
Speed and agility are also very important. Speed in your movements gives you a definite competitive edge over your opponents whether you are in or out of possession.
A simple test for linear speed is the 30m sprint test. Set out a 30m distance and cover it as quickly as possible (from a stationary, standing start) and time the duration from start to finish. If you can get your time down to 4 seconds that will mean you are performing like a professional, adult player.
A powerful (explosive) player is one whom everyone fears and what makes them powerful is the combination of strength and speed. To improve your explosiveness, you should perform exercises which include:
- Power cleans
- Box squats
- High pulls
- Push presses
- Box jumps
- Many more
Training will provide no benefit if your body has nutritional deficiencies. As the saying goes…’you can’t out-train a poor diet’. Here are a few tips that you should follow to maintain your health:
- Drinks as much water as you can
- Have 4 to 6 small meals a day
- Eat protein rich, nutritious food as soon after matches as possible
- Consume more proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables day to day
- Take fish oil daily
- Avoid alcohol and smoking