In order to not only prevent injuries, but also to improve performance on the football field, it is important to ensure a broad motor development. In this blog Jelmer Siemons – trainer at Kicksfit and former physical trainer of the first team of SC Heerenveen – shares 6 important tips to become and stay fit for football!
Tip 1) Fit for football? Do multiple sports!
Ideally, you have practiced several different sports from a young age and your body is able to switch between skills for different game situations. For example, during judo classes you learn how to fall responsibly and how to get back up quickly, and tennis classes can contribute to your spatial awareness and coordination. Although you are most sensitive to learning new forms of movement at a young age, you can also benefit from this at a later age. Therefore, during a Kicksfit workout, there is not only attention for football-specific exercises, but also for example tag games, alternative ball games, relay races and rugby forms. In addition, a good core is extremely important to perform better and prevent injuries. Endless “planks” or doing hundreds of sit-ups unfortunately don’t make much sense.
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Tip 2) Teach your body to recover faster
Why won’t a marathon runner (probably) last a 90-minute football game? Unlike a marathon runner, as a football player you alternate intensive actions (e.g. football sprints) with short periods of recovery during a match. This means that you should not focus so much on endurance training, but on interval training. You can do this, for example, according to the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) principle, in which you alternate short-term high-intensity efforts (eg 30 sec.) with a short (eg 15 sec.) recovery.
Tip 3) Improve your football sprints
Why won’t a 100 meter sprinter win every sprint duel during a football game? Most football sprints take place over a distance of up to 15 metres. In contrast to a 100 meter sprinter, it is not so much the maximum speed, but much more the starting speed, acceleration and maneuverability that play an important role. To improve the football sprint, it is advisable to train it as much as possible in a football-specific context instead of isolated. It is not only about being very fast, but also knowing how to choose the right time, position and direction through experience.
Although most sprints take place over a short distance, the longer “high intensity” sprints (approx. 20-40 meters) often cause injuries to the hamstrings, among other things. Don’t forget to pay attention to this to get fit for football.
Tip 4) Train your brake pedal
Would Max Verstappen drive just as fast if he knew his brakes were worn off? Probably not! As a footballer, it is not only important that we can accelerate quickly, but also that we can slow down quickly and change direction. Why then do we focus mainly on the acceleration during the training sessions and hardly on the “brake” (deceleration)?
To become fit for football and to stay fit, it is advisable to also build up the deceleration. This way you can shorten the distance at which you have to come to a stop (e.g. reduce a stop within 5 meters to a stop within 2 meters).
Tip 5) Make your football practice unpredictable
With many exercises (e.g. a slalom or finishing form) you already know in advance which way you have to walk (pre-planned). However, a football match is unpredictable and every situation is different.
By constantly creating unexpected, new situations during your training, you challenge your body to always come up with a new solution. You can create this, for example, by adding an external stimulus. With the Kicksfit workouts we do this with blazepods, these are lights that you can use to train your reaction speed (read here about what else you do during a Kicksfit training). If you don’t have these, you can, for example, also work with different colors of pawns or vests that you have to respond to.
If you work with a buddy to get fit for football, you can also challenge each other through “cognitive exercises”. For example, you could give your buddy a math question during a pass and kick. This way you challenge the body to do 2 things at the same time and to automate certain movements.
Tip 6) Train on different surfaces and with different materials
Why is it that many top footballers have emerged from street football? Playing football on the street requires a lot of adaptability. Due to the hard and often uneven surfaces, you are constantly challenged to come up with smart solutions in all kinds of different situations. A perfect way to improve your technique. Unfortunately, many football clubs only play on artificial turf, which has increased the “predictability” enormously. What can I do with this to get fit for football?
Challenge yourself to train on different surfaces. Not only on the field, but also in the sand, for example. You could also use an Adaptaball. This is a ball with a small deviation that makes the football game much more unpredictable and challenges you even more to come up with a creative solution.
With these 6 tips you have the tools to become and stay fit for football. Feel like getting started?
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