Andrew Wiseman is currently the S&C Coach for Glasgow Celtic FC Women’s team. He is studying for the PFA recommended BSc Hons Sports Science at Manchester Metropolitan University. Previous experience working with West Ham, Chelsea, Shamrock Rovers, Belgrove FC (Ireland) in a coaching capacity. He spent last season with Charlton Athletic First Team Sports Science Department to gain further knowledge and understanding of the daily applications of Sports Science and S&C in a professional football environment. A true student of the game, Andrew is constantly sharing information on his Twitter account. Below is his insight into preparing your players for demands of the pre-season period.
Christmas is often called the ‘silly season’ and that’s understandable at times, but for me the football off-season can be just as entertaining to say the least. Altitude masks, bands attached to bands attached to more bands and then attached to another player, ‘speed’ ladders – the list is endless, and comical.
Pre-season is an incredibly important time and there is no denying that. It’s a time when players are overloaded to gain fitness adaptations, and where the emphasis is more on adaptation than recovery.
Equally important is the off season, what you do here will have a direct impact on player performance in pre-season and the probability of injury increasing. It’s a common occurrence in amateur football that a long, relatively sedentary off-season is the norm then the demands of an pre-season with over-zealous coaches who feel they need to ‘beast’ players. By the end of 4-5 weeks of pre-season there is a high % of players with soft tissue injuries and niggles and this is before the season has starts. Load isn’t the issue as such, we can only tolerate the loads we are prepared for and injury occurs when load exceeds tolerance. How we get to the high loads of pre-season is the key and this is where the off-season is vitally important. (I would refer you to the work of Tim Gabbett Phd for more information on training load spikes).
The off season program itself should be from 4-6 weeks long it has a purpose; prepare for the demands of pre-season.
Each player’s off season programme should be individualised as much as possible with key performance targets such as:
- Increase aerobic endurance
- Correct imbalances & weaknesses
- Build strength
- Add muscle
- Increase power
- Alter body composition (drop body fat)
- Reduce the detraining effect
Personally, I tend to work on a long to short / high to low basis with my off season players with preparation in mind for pre-season. It’s also about mental recovery too for players when in their off season, and this is important as a 35+ week season at elite level is as mentally, if not more, than it is physically draining.
So how would this look?
Below is an example of what a 3 day per 6-8 week off season program could look like. This is not an absolute, however it would be pretty close to what I would be looking to prescribe for a typical off-season program.
It is worth noting again that off-season programs should be individualized and serve a purpose, but we must respect that a player needs their time away as much as we do, hence the reason it is condensed into a 3 day a week program.
Along with this program individualized nutritional program can be added dependent on the players requirements and goals.
As you will see – there isn’t a speed ladder, or altitude mask in sight!