Football is the UK’s most popular sport both in terms of watching and participation. The sport involves running at various speeds, including maximal sprints and periods of slow jogging; all the while maintaining a skill execution and decision making at these various speeds. The demands of football are such that one requires both anaerobic and aerobic fitness qualities.
Having high levels of aerobic fitness also allows players to recover quicker from bouts of high intensity work, such as sprinting. This ensures skills can still be performed optimally and not under fatigued conditions, which often affects skill execution.
There is an abundance of research demonstrating how improving aerobic fitness increases physical performance capabilities in football players, with a key factor being improved fitness allows players to make better technical and tactical decisions without being impaired by fatigue.
Speed is another characteristic which has been related to success in football performance. Evidently if you are able to sprint quicker, you can beat opponents to the ball, or allow yourself to gain advantageous positioning against a slower opponent. The physical component of speed can further be broken down into quickness (first step speed), acceleration (how quickly you can pick up speed) and maximal velocity (your top speed running).
What You Can Do During Pre Season Training
As previously mentioned, pre season training for football often has a heavy running basis due to the demands of the sport. Ensure that your pre season is covering both aerobic and anaerobic training, to ensure you can meet all demands of a match at the start of the season.
Number of sessions per week will vary depending on time constraints, playing level and previous fitness levels but the below is suggested as a generic guide for a recreational player at a non-league club:
Research has shown a minimum of two training sessions per week is generally required to improve aerobic fitness. If aerobic fitness is improved pre season, it is generally maintained until mid-season and shows slight decrements towards the end of the season. This is enough to consider maintaining some aerobic training during the season to ensure no declines occur.
Session 3: 20 minutes Fartlek training (varying speeds of the run).
Session 1: 30m sprint, 3 minute recovery x 5
Session 3: 10m sprint from various starts- prone, fast feet etc. 3 min recovery between each run.