Our pro football expert Frederico kicks off his soccer series for us here. Freddy gives us a unique insight into his off-season/pre-season conditioning, taking us from the sunny beaches of Brazil to fitness testing and week 1-8 pre-season. Enjoy!
It is usually a good idea to do some kind of training during the few weeks of off-season. I usually do some weight training at the gym at least 3 times a week followed by a 30 minutes of cardio. If I have the chance to go to Brazil in the off-season I will also be playing some foot-volley and soccer at the beach with friends, which is a good relaxing way to keep my fitness and technical at a good level. In my opinion it is just as important to do some type of training during the off-season as it is to not over do it so you can give your body a chance to recover from a long soccer season (usually playing indoor and outdoor it comes close to 11 months of soccer per year).
Professional teams expect their players to arrive for pre-season mentally ready to get back into game shape (99 percent of the players usually arrive with a good basic fitness level). I would say that the first 2 weeks of pre-season training are the toughest ones. The first day is the day where players get their physicals done by the teams’ physicians to make sure that there are no injuries or any health issues that would require any kind of special attention. The second day is the day players want to postpone the most: fitness tests day with the fitness coach. He needs to know what level of fitness the players currently are so he can plan out the intensity for the next 2 weeks of training. The most common tests we go through are the yo-yo test, 40-yard dash, agility and vertical jump.
For the first 2-3 weeks of training we usually have 2 training sessions a day for 5 days and 1 day of recovery training in the swimming pool. The morning sessions are more technical/tactical sessions with some kind of fitness with the soccer ball, whereas the afternoon sessions are the ones where the emphasis will be on fitness. Throughout the week (afternoon sessions) there will be a lot of interval running with some kind of lower/upper body strengthening as well.
In the fourth week we usually have to do the yo-yo test again to see how much we have improved and to see if we have reached the desired level of fitness imposed by our coaches. Having most of the players fit enough to perform at a high level, coaches will use the next weeks of training (weeks 4 -8) to focus more on a technical/tactical type of training once a day. We will have some kind of fitness/strengthening training 2 times per week. It will usually be in the first 2 days of the week during the entire season. Teams usually have a work out routine to be done at the gym (1-3 times a week), where players will have some specific full body strengthening exercises developed by the fitness coaches. It will help players to stay strong and to prevent injuries throughout the season.