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The Ultimate Football (Soccer) Training Guide, Renegade Style!
I should first note that of the many topics I have written about - in my career that includes ten books and well over 1,000 articles - few provide me as much personal and career satisfaction as this one, on the brilliant game of football ("Soccer").
Whatever language you speak, whether you refer to it as football, fùtbol, futebol or even "soccer", the language of joga bonito circles the globe. Like different dialects and accents, styles will vary across the world yet the simple round ball is a common denominator and remains the beautiful game.
Prior to presenting this article I should state a number of key structural points that need to be understood. When I wrote my book, "The Beautiful Game" on the same topic, I attempted to stress these points but in hindsight and given recent developments in the sport, I think they need to repeat my concerns.
In addition to these points I also wish it to be understood that I am presenting this article from the standpoint of academy or regional program development that I do within much of my career. The training regimen that has been presented can easily be implemented and can be implemented by a skill-specific Coach after practice.
From a cursory review, while much of the public has accepted football (or at least debated it) as having the most challenging athletic demands in the sporting world, that paints a rather distorted picture of the sporting demands. While it is correct that the physical requirements of the sport are enormous, to simply consider it "athletic", is confusing; it leads you to believe that building a great boleiros is akin to an algebraic solution where "a + b = c".
The development of a footballer requires a program to step far beyond the confines of simple fitness and resistance work and enhance the unique artistic skills that few games, if any, can rival. This is why the best nations and players in the world hail from areas that appreciate and cultivate the arts.
I have likely once again not emphasized this point enough but this need to enrich more right-side of brain processes within training is a dramatic difference to most training measures. This should also highlight the weaknesses of many programs that teach footy without allowing the natural creative processes of the player to flourish.
With this in mind I wish to stress that over the last 10-to-20 years there has been an unnerving process at the higher levels to stress a game based upon more athletic abilities then skill. And while I am very well known in other communities for developing speed to dictate performance (within North American Football), within Football, skills can never take a backseat to off-pitch training and there must be a happy medium between the physical preparedness and preserving the artistry of the game.
Unfortunately the technical and tactical aspects of the game are taking a backseat to speed and size in some nations. Oddly enough as you consider these countries lack of creative focus you'll also see an ongoing weakness in international competition.
Nations that emphasize skill development and the artistic element of movement, most notably Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Spain and France dominate the top squads and level of play in the world.
The future vision of football needs to be in the hands of present-day luminaries such as Lionel Messi, Juan Roman Riquelme and Alessandro Del Piero and coaches who uphold the sanctity and artistry of the game.
The key to proper development is the delicate mix of appropriate conditioning work that works hand-in-hand with skill development and more importantly understands this unique creative requirement.
To try and pinpoint in a sentence the "beauty" in the beautiful game is one that surely would have different responses depending on who you asked. Certainly some will mention the tactical genius and the artistry of game skills but I tend to look at as the "simple round ball". Obviously without edges and promotes a sense of equality.
While it might be too philosophical to some, the beauty of the game is that the simple round ball is played throughout the world, in a variety of different manners but has the ability to bridge borders and eliminate barriers.
Certainly it is not perfect and in the past the sport has been victimized through hooliganism but I cannot note another sport where you can share a pitch with 11 different players, each from different parts of the world and learn to work together for the betterment of the whole.
In its purest form, football has a magical healing power that defies other sports. The other beauty of the sport is that there is no true age barrier and while the long runs and great athletic strikes may dwindle in age there is a simple elegance of the sport that you can play throughout your lifetime.
I cannot help but note the motley group I play with, a rag-tag bunch with different backgrounds with at least eight different languages with over 30 years difference in age from youngest to oldest. Yet with all the differences we learn to work together, individuals of different backgrounds, working for the betterment of the whole.
With that said, excellence on the pitch requires an extraordinary well-conditioned athlete. It is easy to comment on the need for skill development but without a high baseline of athleticism your development will be thwarted. Unfortunately this marriage between athletic development and an understanding of sporting demands have been drawn far off base and in-fact led the sport in the wrong direction at times.
The problem of virtually every conditioning program I've seen in the world of football is that it is written from the vantage to become "stronger in the weight room", a "better distance runner" or even a "faster sprinter", but does it ever solve the issue of playing football better? Truthfully no, the lower leagues are full of fit, well developed physiques with sorely lagging skills.
Our work is not the foolish misguided "training to train" error but to dominate on the pitch and allow us to hone our skills to a fine point.
Now for those who have read me in the past, many of these areas will be something you are well versed in however they are worthy of repeating.
First and foremost I want to demystify the process of exercise being complex because it is much simpler compared to sport specific skills. However that isn't to say the work will be "easy" and truthfully it may require a level of commitment far beyond what you have imagined but in the end you will learn one of the greatest messages of Renegade Training, which is "adversity is something we overcome".
The goals of training are:
- elevates performance on the pitch
- improves the quality of the incumbents life
- teaches a moral code of conduct
I think there needs to be heavy stress in the final two points because football has the unique ability to break down every conceivable barrier in society and build character.
I can spend a great deal of time describing this but I think FIFA's "Football for Hope" and "My Game is Fair Play" programs say it better and are initiatives that all coaches, parents and players need to understand, embrace and help advance forward.
The problem with most off-pitch training is simply that it does not recognize actual on-pitch demands and seems to be designed by someone who has never played.
Whether you are a towering striker or a more diminutive one, a midfielder who relies upon pace or one with unique vision and guile, training protocols need to reflect the specific needs of the sport and not the personal training habits of the coach.
Prior to going through our plan it is important to go through a "Renegade 100 primer" which will go through the basic protocols of the Renegade Concepts of TrainingTM which is the cornerstone of all training. These concepts are:
- Movements trained, not musculature
- Efficiencies of movement reinforced
- Motor patterning and grafting of movement
- Postural alignment is emphasized and perfected
- Stabilization in the most destabilized training environments
- Adopt chaos as your "home"
- Force developed such that it can be projected, accepted and redirected at maximal levels
Using these concepts, abilities are developed using a balanced approach metaphorically displayed as the "Renegade Wheel of ConditioningTM".
Each "spoke" must be developed of equally to ensure optimal results. The fundamental structure of the "Renegade Wheel of ConditioningTM" is:
- Drive, Determination
- Sport Skill
- Range of Motion, Static
- Range of Motion, Dynamic
- Linear Speed
- Work Threshold / GPP
A quick review of the "Renegade Wheel of ConditioningTM" will note the omission of "balance". "Balance" is a byproduct of a properly laid out training regime and through sound planning and appropriate mediums utilized, the development of "balance" occurs but it is not something magically created with quaint exercises.
Each of the "Renegade Wheel of ConditioningTM" attributes can be summarized briefly:
Drive, Determination & Dedication
At the center of the Wheel is a hub for which all else revolves around and without success will be limited.
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Sport Specific Work
In writing this article I knew there would be a series of controversial comments and this is definitely one of them. The first point that needs to be made clear is that this is not a sport-specific article. However it is critical that the coach or trainer implementing this regime has an in-depth knowledge of the game that starts with first-hand play. That doesn't meant it requires brilliant play at advanced level but just an ongoing first-hand experience of understanding the unique needs of the position.
One of the gravest errors in the football world has been the creation of the "conditioning" coach who has absolutely no experience on the pitch. Simply if you don't play, if football isn't a major part of your (athletic) life, you don't have the right and won't have the practical knowledge to be involved in conditioning and it will only lead to ill-conceived ideas.
I have little tolerance for coaches who apply physical conditioning notions without ever stepping on the pitch themselves and I wish to stress to (skill) coaches it is a grave error to retain these types of conditioning coaches regardless of their experience outside of football.
At the core of Renegade Training
TM lays GPP (General Physical Preparation), which will in fact serve as the foundation that all other work is built on.
Proper skill training can only be performed with sufficient levels of fitness and therefore this is paramount to our concern. This is a consideration unique to football given the extraordinary fitness demands on the pitch and that experienced players generally possess the highest level of general fitness in comparison to other team sports.
Click Image To Enlarge.
Proper Skill Training Can Only Be
Performed With Sufficient Levels Of Fitness.
Range Of Motion
A high level of range of motion is imperative for success on the pitch. Range of motion work is considered in every aspect of training. There are two forms of range of motion work, static and dynamic
flexibility that recognize the body's three basic planes of motion:
- Coronal plane: cutting the front and back portions of the body.
- Sagittal plane: cutting the right and the left segments of the body.
- Transverse plane: dividing the top and the bottom parts of the body.
Agility & Linear Speed Development
Agility and Linear
speed are developed to assist in maximize performance.
Related Speed And Agility Articles:
There are many forms of
strength that are considered in our work to enhance playing ability such as acceleration strength, starting strength, relative strength and strength
endurance. Through the breadth of the program we will deal with each of these issues in length.
Given the enormity of this topic, I have limited my review to two of our major concerns, fitness and strength training. For a more extensive review of the entire training measures for the pitch I suggest both my book, "The Beautiful Game", the 2008/2009 edition of the "Renegade Fùtbol Club" and my future releases on the sport at this web-site.
Additionally this article has been prepared from the vantage of technical sport coach implementing within his or her team. I have done so, given that most coaches do not have the financial budget for a separate conditioning/performance coach and feel it the most responsible direction to take.
This series of articles will continue with in-depth Fitness and Strength training programs. Coaches and players, you really don't want to miss this! Check back for the rest.
About The Author
John Davies is the founder of Renegade Training International, which includes sport training clubs in Hockey, Futbol and this August, the Renegade Tennis Club. This fall will see the first stage of Renegade Sporting Club's in Montral and London, England which are dedicated to the development of heritage sporting activities of the region with particular focus on youth sport.