|Power running leading to success for footballers
Soccer, or the beautiful game, is by far the most popular game around the world. Itis played anywhere space permits a circular object to be used for play. It is a sport that does not require the use of expensive equipment and that can be enjoyed as a recreational or competitive activity. Playing soccer at a high level, however, can be very demanding. For those dreaming on one day standing as a professional player on fields such as BMO Field in Toronto, or international pitches like Wembley, the Maracana, Estadio Monumental, or Camp Nou, training effectively can make the difference between success and failure.
One of soccer’s primary physiological demands on the body is to be able to run an average of 10km per match, of which a quarter of the distance is covered at intensities of 15-18 km/hour. Another key movement in the sport is changing direction, which is calculated to occur an average of 50 times per game. When considering the amount of players dreaming of playing at the professional or university level (too many to count but most likely in the 100’s of millions), succeeding in the game seems to be as difficult as being accepted into law or medicine school.
At least eighteen players are normally named to the roster of a typical professional team, with an average of only 14 players playing regularly. Therefore, only the best will have the opportunity to wear the jersey of a professional team. Some players who are not quite good enough for the professional level may use their talents to gain soccer scholarships to obtain further education in their desired career path.
If players do decide to pursue playing soccer in post-secondary institutions, they will have to balance the demands of education and sport. Not even natural talent can ensure that an individual will make the grade at either level, for this reason, every day becomes more critical to start training under the guidance of skillful and knowledgeable coaches, which would focus on improving all aspect of their game.
Although soccer’s physiological demands are immense, nowadays many coaches focus their training sessions almost entirely on tactics and technique, at the expense of physical fitness. This may set players up to fail, as they may not be able to perform the physical tasks required of soccer players at the elite level. It does not matter how good someone controls a soccer ball, if that person cannot run 30 meters without losing their breath.
Programs, such as the one developed at SoccerFitness, are aware that intermittent high intensity running and aerobic capacity to recover from the runs and are key requirements for any player. It is for these reasons that the Power Running Series was created, the only soccer-specific on-field fitness training program developed to enhance soccer-specific speed, power, agility, and aerobic endurance.
Power Running puts players through the same type of on-field training program that professional player undergo every day. The focus of the program is on improving the physical condition of players while working in on-field situations with the ball and without the ball, to match the capacities expected of a professional player. A normal session of power running is divided on four key components:
Sport specific warm up
Where player learn how to prepare their bodies for the rigors of the sport through running, multi-directional movement, dynamic stretches, and activation of the central nervous system through sprinting and jumping exercises.
Coordination and running drills
Whereby players are taught how to move and perform all the soccer-specific movements, including running, turning, stopping/cutting, jumping, shielding and jockeying, among others. This component of training will improve movement efficiency, allowing players to save energy and also help them to prevent injuries that may occur through bad mechanics.
Energy system training
The “heart and soul” of the Power Running Series. This training improves players’ VO2 (aerobic) capacity and anaerobic capacity, using exercises both without and with the ball. Because soccer is not a linear sport or sport where running is all you need to do to be successful, we utilize the ball in a combination of drill involving agility and ball control; which translates to physical greater ability to actually play the game.
The backbone of a strong and injury-free soccer player. This part of the session is focused on improving strength of the entire body, including neurological adaptation, which will improve force development. Force development is crucial to develop high velocities that permit players to out-run other players for the control of the ball, while also improving the force of kicking, allowing for longer passes and more powerful shots to goal.
With each year and each generation, soccer becomes more challenging than ever before. The sport is not merely a science, but science is of vital importance to improve performance and help young players reach their dreams. The Soccer Fitness Power Running Series can be a critical component of training to aid players along this journey.
Santiago Montoya is an Internship Student and Assistant Trainer with Soccer Fitness Inc. and the Power Running Series. The Soccer Fitness Power Running Series starts Sunday, January 17th, and Thursday, January 22nd, 2015. For more information visit www.soccerfitness.ca.