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Pre-season: fit to play

It’s been a long lay-off for some of us and getting back into shape for the season ahead is an important part of coaching preparation. And not just for you the coach. This week I have been coaching at clinics for teams to get them back into playing contact games before they go to play friendly matches.

The players have been out of action for ages and tire quickly. They need to boost their fitness to prepare them for games. When you get back together with your team you should be working on their fitness first and foremost, then they will be better prepared to take on-board the skills and tactics you are coaching.

I have had to up my game on the fitness front because it is tiring both mentally and physically for me as a coach and for the players to take in your coaching – you need to try to get yourself and your players up to speed. If you and your players are not fit enough to play the way you want it will be a pointless beginning to your campaign. You need fun games, lots of touches and plenty of running around.

Start with Sprint to it, a running game that will have your players panting for breath but enjoying racing each other to get to the ball.

Another great session for individual work is the Agility Square. It’s a high tempo game that will wake up brains and give muscles a work out.

I also like to use sessions based purely on fitness work without a ball so that players can push themselves without having to think about moving the ball. The Fast footwork fitness test is one I use when preparing my teams for the tough season ahead. It doesn’t need a ball but has an element of competition that makes it fun for the players. I also find The Flower is a good option for individual fitness.

For a team work out I like to use games that work on fitness and also have a tactical element to them. Three ball pressure is a great session for getting players to press at high tempo, creating a game based on the tactic of winning the ball back wherever it is on the pitch.

And finally use 4-player pre-season support for a game that combines all the elements of individual and team play at a high tempo.

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