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Football Fitness: how to train to win

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Attention All Footballers!

“Here’s how you can be a faster, stronger and more successful player in 2010”

Take advantage of our fantastic 42% discount offer now!

Dear Footballer,

Once upon a time, plenty of natural talent – laced with a splash of dazzling skill – was all a footballer needed to get to the top of the game.

Most weekly training sessions consisted of little more than running laps round the football field, a few sprints, followed by some basic ball drills. But those days are long gone – and not just for Premier League players.

Today’s ‘beautiful game’ requires football players to be high-performing athletes – possessing strength, speed, power and stamina.

So there’s more sports research than ever focused on the science of football training & conditioning, injury prevention and rehabilitation, match-day nutrition, and more. And more pressure than ever on players – and coaches – to perform. Hardly surprising, really, given that the transfer fees for Premier League footballers run into the millions, and average basic annual salaries exceed £700, 000.

Our brand new special report will reveal all that – and more...

In Football Fitness: how to train to win you’ll learn how to put together the most advanced conditioning programme possible; how to develop performance-enhancing speed, strength and injury resistance; how to accelerate to match-winning speed from a standing start – and how to stop and turn instantly on the ball… without injury…

In addition, we lift the lid on how the world’s best coaches prepare their teams for tournament football and manage that all-important post-match recovery, which is so essential for all footballers who play regularly.

It's essential performance-enhancing information for any footballer or coach seeking that winning edge, whatever your level of competition.

Just take a look at the calibre of sports performance experts who are providing this information to you:

  • Andrew Hamilton BSc Hons, MRSC, ACSM is a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American College of Sports Medicine and a consultant to the fitness industry, specialising in sport and performance nutrition
  • Jim Petruzzi is a performance coach, specialising in sports science and sports psychology, who works with several professional football clubs and international teams
  • David Joyce BPhty (hons), MPhty (Sports), CSCS is a sports physiotherapist at Blackburn Rovers FC. He has previously worked in Olympic sports and in professional rugby union. He teaches on the postgraduate masters in sports physiotherapy at the University of Bath, UK
  • John Shepherd MA is a specialist health, sport and fitness writer and a former international long jumper
  • Nick Grantham is a strength and conditioning coach who has worked with elite athletes for the past 10 years. He now heads up the strength and conditioning team at GENR8 Fitness
  • Alison McConnell is currently professor of applied physiology at Brunel University. Her research interests are in respiratory limitations to exercise performance
  • James Marshall MSc, CSCS, ACSM/HFI, runs Excelsior, a sports training company
  • Andy Lane is professor of sport and learning at the University of Wolverhampton
  • Ulrik Larsen BPhty MAPA is an APA sports physiotherapist and clinical Pilates consultant specialising in rehabilitation of sports injury

Ninety-two pages of cutting-edge football training and conditioning advice from NINE leading experts – and all of it for less than 30 minutes of one-on-one consultation with any one of them!

Football Fitness: how to train to win provides you with a rare opportunity to assess the very latest sports science thinking on football conditioning for yourself, and decide how best to integrate it into your own training programme.

So here’s a tip from me: get your copy TODAY, before the first printing is sold out and you have to wait for a reprint! And there’s an extra benefit when you do: I’ll give you a special discount on the usual price of the report (more details below).

Read our brand new football report today and here are some of the key insights you’ll learn:

  • Are small-sided games as a valuable a form of training as many coaches think? (p. 13)
  • Why are small clubs with minimal equipment actually at a training advantage? (p. 16)
  • When training for strength, what is the best time of day in which to exercise? (p. 27)
  • Why do some footballers actually lose fitness as the season goes on – and what steps can you take to avoid this? (p. 18)
  • In pre-season training, what are the three energy systems that need to be worked? (pp. 34-35)
  • What’s the key to maximum acceleration? (p. 50)
  • Which deceleration training methods work best? (pp. 62-63)

All in all, 92 pages of cutting-edge information every serious football player, team coach and manager needs to know – and integrate into their training and conditioning programs.

Get your copy of Football Fitness: how to train to win TODAY, at our special, 42%-discount price.

What’s more, postage & packing is free.

And remember: you’ve got a full 30 days to decide whether or not you want to keep the workbook or return it for a full refund.


Yours sincerely

Jonathan Pye
Publisher: Peak Performance

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Training for Match Fitness:
Are You Following Out-of-Date Thinking?

Pre match warm-up drills and exercises are a commonplace sight in football but are these drills making the footballers better at what they do, or are coaches merely replicating past practice or advocating what they did as a player years ago?

More generally, do the technical training and exercise routines reduce the risk of injury and enhance the players’ performance on the field, and can they be made better?

Football Fitness: how to train to win kicks off with an examination of these fundamental issues -- because if you're not match fit, all else is irrelevant.

The discussion opens with some fascinating insights into exactly what it means to be match fit in the context of a game of football. Football players have to perform repeated sprints throughout the match. Fitter players will be able to perform these sprints for longer. A less fit player may be faster, but won’t be able to produce that speed when it counts – for example during the last 10 minutes of each half or in injury time.

Research on professional women football players in the USA compared their performance in matches to that of good players (but not professional or internationals) in the Danish and Swedish leagues and found that the work rate was much higher in the professional players, who covered 33% more distance in their hardest five minutes of a match than the ‘good’ players.

However, it was interesting to see that following this burst, the next five minutes resulted in a 17% below average work rate, showing that it is impossible to maintain the absolute top work rates. The professionals also ran at top speeds for 28% longer over the match than the ‘good’ players, covering 1.68km compared to 1.33km. The overall distance covered was between 9-11km with over 1,300 changes in activity in the match – an average of one change every 4 seconds!

However you look at it, you can't avoid the conclusion that top level footballers -- regardless of their ball skills and other sports expertise -- simply outrun their lower league equivalents. So peak physical condition is essential for top-level success.

But there was also a difference in activity levels between the positions for both groups, with defenders performing fewer sprints than midfielders and attackers and also fewer intervals of high intensity running overall. Fatigue had an effect on both groups, with the professionals running 25-27% less at high intensity in the last 15 minutes of the game compared to the previous five 15-minute intervals. The ‘good’ players performed less work in the last 15 minutes of both halves compared to the previous 30 minutes, highlighting the difference between activity levels of merely good amateur players and professionals.

It’s one thing to assess the levels of activity required in football, quite another to know if players are really fit enough to play at the highest level.

Any test has to be able to measure a fitness parameter that is used in football, and also to distinguish between good and very good players. These fitness tests may be useful to see if the player is fit enough but lacks skill, or is skilful in training but lacks the ability to produce that consistently throughout the game.

We address this essential issue in this section of Football Fitness: how to train to win – along with the related question: which is the weakest point that needs to be trained -- skill or fitness – and can these two elements be trained for simultaneously?

We also examine the usefulness of so-called small sided games – i.e. 2 versus 2, 3 versus 3 and so on – to find out whether they are as useful a form of training fitness and skill as many coaches seem to believe.

I think you'll find our conclusions surprising.

Along the way we give you several examples of drills you can use to train footballers for high levels of agility -- both with and without equipment. In the section you'll discover why small clubs with minimal equipment are actually at a training advantage in respect of their larger, better funded rivals!

You also benefit from details of the training schedule for the Texas A & M football team -- what they do week in and week out to build their fitness to peak condition both before and during the season.

We conclude with some practical, take-home advice for players and coaches alike: four key tips for planning your own training programme for maximum in season performance -- and avoiding the de-training that afflicts so many players in football during the competitive season.

The bottom line: you'll find out (1) how to vary the types of training to prevent staleness and (2) how to maintain intensity and quality work throughout the season to ensure that players are as fit at the end of the season as they were at the beginning.

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From Footballer to Athlete:
the science of muscular conditioning

Modern football requires its most successful players to be athletic ‘all-rounders’, with excellent muscular endurance, so they can sprint, jump, shoot and tackle for the full 90 or even 120 minutes; and excellent strength, in order to be able to perform at a high level and avoid injury.

Success as a professional football player is predicated upon a vast array of physical, technical and tactical abilities. Optimal physical attributes do vary by player position (a goalkeeper needs less muscular endurance than a midfield player, for instance), but all need excellent baseline muscular and cardiovascular endurance; the ability to accelerate rapidly and jump well is a distinct advantage. Muscular endurance, trunk and lower limb strength and power will all figure prominently in how far any football player can go at elite level.

The type of training required to achieve muscular strength is, however, quite different from that needed for endurance. In fact, many studies have concluded that they may be mutually exclusive: that if both training regimes are undertaken concurrently, endurance training actually ‘interferes’ with the strength gains of resistance training.

This theory of concurrent training – first published in scientific literature by Dr Robert Hickson in 1980 – remains a controversial subject three decades on. So in the next section of Football Fitness: how to train to win we tackle it head-on.

First we examine the specific muscular requirements of strength and conditioning for footballers. Then we look at how recent advances in exercise biochemistry have provided us with a better understanding of how footballers should train. We look in depth at both endurance training and resistance training as they relate specifically to football. By understanding the molecular adaptations to both endurance exercise and resistance training, we are able to design an effective training programme for footballers.

To take one example: we show you how, with the correct application of strength training principles to football conditioning, players can not only reduce their sprint times over 10m and 30m – they can also increase the jump height by 3 cm.

That could be enough to out-jump the opposing centre back and head into the net the winning goal!

The training tips you'll learn in this section are fascinating. They even include details of the best time of day to contract strength training sessions in order to get the maximum benefit for players, and nutritional tips that will help you build both strength and endurance.

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Pre-Season Training:
how best to prepare for a successful competition

Effective pre-season football training is not just about running around the football pitch in order to shed those off-season pounds. A much more scientific approach is needed, which combines energy systems training with skill development.

That’s why the next section of Football Fitness: how to train to win focuses on what players and the coaches need to do in the weeks and months before the season commences.

A successful pre-season programme is one that incorporates all of the necessary components to enable players to maximise their performance as soon as the season commences, and to be able to sustain peak physical condition throughout the season. These fitness components often vary with the individual player, the positional role in the team and the team’s style of play.

Other considerations include the physical demands of the game, the current level of fitness of a particular player and what the team is striving to achieve. To meet these requirements, a well-designed pre-season training programme that addresses the specific demands of each footballer is a must.

Because of this, it is worth considering physical and physiological tests at the start of your pre-season schedule to see how the players are doing, and to evaluate their preparation plans. These tests give information on the levels of endurance, speed, muscular endurance, strength, coordination, technical, and tactical elements during the preparation period.

In Football Fitness: how to train to win we explain how to meet this goal. First we identify the energy requirements of football. Then we look at the principles of preseason training, particularly the importance of skills-based fitness training. And we provide concrete examples of how you can apply these principles to yourself, or your team, in practice.

Along the way, we share with you the training insights of Paul Aigbogun, coach of the San Francisco Seals team. He describes some of his favourite training practices, demonstrating how the ball can be incorporated into training for physiological benefits.

You'll also learn what are the three different energy systems that need to be specifically trained -- and how to achieve this goal. The discussion includes full details of three different training programmes.

Finally, we tell you precisely how to construct your own, football-specific, pre-season training session for yourself, or for your football team.

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Training for Top-End Speed: how to make sure you’re always 10 steps ahead of your opponent

Many team sports athletes will go through a battery of fitness tests throughout their career. One of the most widely used is the 40m sprint (the 40-yard dash in the USA), which is used to test speed.

While it’s true that there are other speed tests that are relatively easy to administer and which provide immediate feedback to coaches and athletes, the 40m test is so prevalent in sporting circles that footballers may benefit from training plans that improve their 40m sprinting, as well as their linear speed, to assist their sporting performance.

Indeed, in the USA, whole training programmes, websites and camps are devoted to ‘improving your 40’.

This data is highly relevant to football, where players are not only required to run bursts of similar distances during the game, but also need to have high top speeds and good acceleration, e.g. being first to a ball or racing back to get into defensive position. The modern game of football requires players to be faster than ever before.

So we devote the next section in Football Fitness: how to train to win to explaining how to get the best out of training for, and subsequently testing, the 40m sprint. We explain which strength training exercises give the best results for sprinting over this specific distance – and not just the ‘drive phase’ of the sprint action, but the ‘recovery phase’ as well, given the demands of the modern game.

NB: because the 40m is a very specific running test, and most football training time is already at a premium, the running drills need to be very effective indeed. With Football Fitness: how to train to win you find out just how to achieve this training objective.

For example, we include full details of a sample 40m sprint-training programme for footballers – covering both the off- and in-season periods – that you can use to get your sprint training up to speed right away!

It’s powerful stuff!

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Training for Maximum Acceleration:
are you always first to the ball?

Forget top speed. Athletes that can increase their speed (ie accelerate) more rapidly than their rivals can gain an incredible and often unassailable performance advantage.

The most obvious example is the 100m sprinter, who might not attain the highest top speed, but reaches the finish line first because he or she is able to attain their top speed before the other competitors. The same is true in field sports – a footballer may breach the defence with a searing burst of pace that leaves the opposition for dead.

So in the next section of Football Fitness: how to train to win we focus our attention on the issue of acceleration.

First we analyse what makes for a quick getaway from a technical point of view, looking in detail at the techniques involved in maximizing acceleration. To do this we first need to understand the essential differences between accelerating on the one hand and sprinting on the other.

Then we examine recent research on the efficacy of different types of muscular conditioning for enhancing acceleration in athletes, NB: footballers need to be able to turn on a dime, so to speak, so we look at how football coaches can develop accelerative practices that involved turns. A lot of conventional acceleration training is done in a straight line -- this is obviously of limited utility in the context of a football game!

Next, we assess the benefits or otherwise of other training techniques such as plyometrics, weighted sled and over-speed work, and identify the best training methods to develop this crucial aspect of football performance. Along the way, you'll know which specific strength training exercises are best for improving acceleration.

Acceleration and top speed running practices and conditioning methods need to be blended into a coherent training plan if a footballer is going to reach his or her full speed potential. Having read this section in Football Fitness: how to train to win you'll know just how to achieve that essential training goal.

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Training for Deceleration:
slow down faster for better performance!

Athletes and coaches invariably strive for maximum acceleration and absolute speed, increased endurance and greater dynamic agility – not the ability to slow down!

But think of a footballer landing from a header and then turning to sprint into an open position, it’s obvious that the ability to slow the body down as quickly as possible in order to make another movement or movements is critical to performance on the pitch.

However, training for optimal deceleration is something quite distinct from training for either acceleration or top end speed. That's why the next section of Football Fitness: how to train to win focuses entirely on this topic.

Muscles contract in different ways to produce and control movement. Key to stopping the body when decelerating from a sprint or landing from a jump is the eccentric contraction. An eccentric contraction occurs when a muscle lengthens under load to control movement. A concentric contraction (which forms the basis of the majority of sports movements) occurs when a muscle shortens to produce movement.

Examples of eccentric contraction include:

  • The lowering phase of a biceps curl, when the biceps muscle elongates while under tension (from the weight);
  • Hamstring muscle lengthening that happens when sprinting (as it contracts during the return phase of the running action). This occurs when the foot leaves the running surface, travels up toward the butt and is then extended to a position in front of the body in preparation for the next stride. The hamstring muscle controls the acceleration of the lower leg, controlling and pulling the lower leg back down toward the running surface. Most hamstring (and muscle) strains occur during this eccentric muscular phase, which helps explains the value of specific eccentric muscular training.

If an athlete’s muscles are not sufficiently eccentrically conditioned then the muscle fibres will be unable to optimally dissipate and control the force of the landing. And these forces can be considerable. For example, when landing from a drop jump (box height 80-100cm), the ankle joints can be subject to a load six to eight times that of the athlete’s body weight.

In Football Fitness: how to train to win you'll learn how to train specifically for greater eccentric strength, and in this way guard against sports injury. And you'll find out why women footballers are particularly prone to ACL injury -- and how best to deal with this.

Along the way we give you details of two different running drills that improve an athlete’s deceleration agility -- and we tell you how to build weight training into your deceleration training as well.

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Plyometric training: footballer’s friend or foe?

Football is a high-intensity intermittent sport. Although players can cover up to 11km in a game, most of this is done in short, sharp bursts lasting seconds, and this performance therefore relies on anaerobic energy, speed and power. Plyometric (jumping) exercises to develop power are used by sportsmen and sportswomen from myriad sports with success. But can they be applied to football and combined with traditional approaches?

A plyometric exercise involves the combination of two muscle contractions coming together to enhance muscular power outputs and therefore speed and power. Footballers need to posses agility, speed and strength and plyometrics are a great way to condition these outcomes.

So in the next section of Football Fitness: how to train to win we examine some recent research that has examined the inclusion of these types of exercises into football training. And then we look at the issue of so-called ‘power combination’ training -- the combining of plyometric and weight training exercises in the same workout. The exercises are usually paired and must work the same muscle groups.

We explain how power combination training works and give you several practical examples for you to try out for yourself.

At the end of the section you have a better understanding of the relative strengths of plyometric training and weight training -- and which exercises are most effective as part of a properly constructed training programme.

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Aiming for World Cup Glory:
how the national teams prepare, play and recuperate

The World Cup is as much a battle of attrition as it is a tactical war. So the team that suffers the fewest injuries and is able to minimise performance loss round after round will greatly increase their winning chances.

Using the 2010 World Cup tournament in South Africa as an example, Football Fitness: how to train to win discusses the physiological and logistical challenges of World Cup football preparation, and looks at the strategies employed by various national coaches.

First we examine how best to taper and peak for a major sports tournament such as the World Cup, keeping in mind such key issues as injury prevention, load monitoring and altitude. Then we home in on the critical issue of recovery -- what inter-match recovery strategies are employed by top-level football teams, and what can the rest of us learn from them?

What we quickly discover is, given the many factors at play, it's not possible to follow an off-the-peg recovery strategy. However, there are two nonnegotiable is when it comes to match recovery and these need to be followed irrespective of the individual footballer concerned.

In Football Fitness: how to train to win we tell you which are the two non-negotiables in question…

We also outline three post-match recovery strategies that you might want to try it for yourself.

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As a registered member of our Peak Performance web site, you qualify for a copy of Football Fitness: how to train to win at a special 42% discount. Place your order today and you pay just $34.99 (£21.69) instead of the full price of $59.99.

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Football Fitness: how to train to win is one of a series of special reports from Peak Performance, the sports science newsletter. This practical work book is not available elsewhere.

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