Training for Footballing Excellence

Scientific thinking on kicking strength, pre-season preparation, speed and power, and coach-player relationships
Peak Performance

This special report on football looks at latest scientific thinking on football, and how players and trainers can exploit these findings to attain new levels of footballing excellence.

Section one covers pre-season preparation, how to enhance your kicking capacity and how best to develop enhanced speed and power. Section two focuses on footballing health – specifically on how to avoid those dreaded late-match cramps and reduce the risk of injuries from kicking. The rare issue of sudden cardiac death on the pitch is also covered.

“During an average football game, a player will contact the ball with his feet 26 times.” Alicia Filley

Section three considers the “art of football”. Football is a team sport where science is essential the arts of excellent coaching, man-management and interpersonal skills are also required.and that’s an art. With that in mind, we look at how coaches can build the very best coach-player relationships and also what lessons we can learn from outside football about how best to manage teams in tournament football.

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Article summaries from Training for Footballing Excellence

1. Pre-season training: prepare for action!

Typically, a pre-season in professional soccer lasts for about 6 weeks and this period is crucial to a club’s overall success for the season. In this article David Joyce discusses what he considers to be a good framework for a pre-season training mesocycle in professional football. Once it is understood, however, the principles behind it can be transferred to other levels of football.

2. Putting your best foot forward: the biomechanics of a football kick

Since most of football’s offensive manoeuvres rely on kicking, players spend a great deal of time training to improve this skill. Alicia Filley breaks down football’s instep kick and suggests ways to tweak your training for better results.

3. Get wired: maximise your neuromuscular power!

Alicia Filley explores the practical application of physiological
principles that influence power output in football and guides
you toward training techniques that improve your game

4. Don’t cramp your style – minimising the risk of muscle cramps

Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps (EAMC) is one of the most common conditions that affects footballers during or immediately after matches. Despite the high prevalence of this condition, the reasons for EAMC in athletes are still not well understood. Andrew Hamilton looks at what the recent science says on minimising the risk of cramps while on the pitch…

5. Giving pain the boot: how the biomechanics of kicking can lead to injury

Football is one of the world’s most popular sports. Played in venues from professional arenas to schoolyards, football also carries one of the highest risks of injury. Alicia Filley explains how the biomechanics of kicking can lead to some of the most common lower extremity football injuries.

6. What becomes of the broken hearted?

Sudden cardiac death in a footballer is shocking because footballers are assumed to be in prime physical condition. Alicia Filley examines the incidence and causes of sudden cardiac death in footballers and gives guidelines to assess your own cardiac risk…

7. Football coaching: build a better relationship with your players

Behind every successful footballer there is a coach or many coaches who will have helped – technically, physically, tactically, and psychologically. During these interactions, a coach footballer
relationship will have formed but could this relationship be even better? Adam Nicholls looks at how the coach-footballer relationship develops, how to improve it and what to do when conflict arises…

8. The “VuVuZela” experience: A lesson on international football management

As the disastrous 2010 and 2011 World Cup campaigns by the English football and rugby teams respectively demonstrated, managing team performance during major competition is no easy task. Tom McNab reflects on what football can learn from managers and leaders outwith football…


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