What Does A Training Schedule Look Like In Football WITHOUT A Midweek Game?

In my previous blog post, A Day In The Life’, I gave you a run-through of what a typical training day is like in the season. I briefly touched on training content without going into any detail and said I’d give that its own post.


This post will be what a schedule might look like without a midweek game and then, what a schedule might look like WITH a midweek game will follow shortly.

Pre Training

So let’s start with my prehab session in the gym before training. This is something I do every day regardless of whether we have a game or not. It takes me 25-30 minutes and consists of:

  • A 5-10 minute spin on the static bike
  • Lower body activation
  • Ankle strengthening
  • Dynamic stretching

This helps loosen the joints and muscles that tend to stiffen up after being sat in the car for so long.

After a spin on the bike, I go through my ankle strengthening work using a theraband to work on strength and stability within my ankle ligaments.

Using my theraband, I go through a range of movements working against the resistance of the band to improve strength and mobility through the ankle.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I suffered an ankle ligament injury not too long ago so to try and prevent it from happening again I go through these daily.

This doesn’t eliminate the possibility of injuring it again but it helps strengthen the ankle ligaments which improves the chances of it not reoccurring.

My TriggerPoint Therapy foam roller for loosening any tight muscles, my Physique resistance band for lower body activation and my theraband for my ankle exercises

For my lower body activation, I go through different exercises that ensure my glutes (muscles in your bum) are ‘switched on’ and ‘firing’.

Some examples of exercises I do are:

  • Crab walks
  • Squats
  • Single leg raises
  • Glute bridges

Ensuring I do this activation prior to training means my body is better prepared for the strenuous demands of training sessions and games because my glutes, which are relied upon heavily by athletes during performance, are ready.

I had problems during my youth team days and this lower body activation has been a part of my morning routine ever since.

In between the sets of activation and ankle work, when I am ‘resting’, I will stretch different muscles to maximize the limited time I have in the morning.

Although we go through a warm up before the training session, they are always generic.

However, these exercises are all very simple, require minimal equipment and are specific to my body’s needs.

Over the years I have learnt more about my body so I am now in a position where I know what my body needs, to be ready for training.


Training schedule

Sessions and schedules change week to week depending on circumstances like games and managers’ preferences.

If we have a midweek game, the workload in training will be different from a week of training with only a game on a Saturday.

Times can also vary so I have put the average length below. 

Monday: 75 mins

Every training session will always begin with a warmup.

Mondays are about getting the legs and mind going again with heavy legs expected from the game.

Sometimes the starting 11 from the weekend will go through a cooldown whilst the rest of the squad are put through their paces. The cooldown may take place on the pitch, at the gym or even in a local swimming pool.

Technical drills with loads of touches of the ball are how Monday sessions normally begin, to get the legs and mind going again after the weekend’s game. Image by Richard Blaxall

If the starting 11 are involved in training, their involvement will be limited, with them only doing a part of the session.

The first part of Monday sessions, after the warmup, consist of a lot of touches of the ball, through repetitive technical drills which include:

  • Ball control and mastery
  • Passing drills

The players who didn’t play at the weekend are then put through a more intense session to maintain fitness levels and stay sharp for when they will be called upon.

Possession games and small-sided games follow, with some running at the end. If the starting 11 were involved from the beginning, they will normally come out of the session after the technical drills and go through a cooldown.

Tuesday: 90 – 120 mins

Terror Tuesdays as they have been known to be called amongst players and staff.

The toughest and most taxing training day of the week. With a day off to follow and the next game 4 days away, the coaching staff can afford to push us that bit harder.

Within a Tuesday session, we’re likely to do possession and different small-sided games like any other day, but the size of the pitches is likely to be much bigger than a Monday and the time of the drills are extended, to get the distance and workload into our legs.

It isn’t uncommon for running to accompany the football drills to get the required workload into the players.

During the season, a gym session might follow the football sessions on a Tuesday and Thursday to work on strength and power.

These gym sessions will consist of standard lower and upper body exercises like:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Lunges
  • Bench press
  • Pull-ups

And also football-specific exercises.

Typically, a Tuesday gym session will be heavier strength-based exercises because the window of time between then and Saturday allows for the body to recover from the tough session.

Training is always competitive whether it is sprints in the warm up or a small-sided game. Image by Tom Mulholland

Wednesday: 

Recovery day.

A day off to allow the body to recover and an opportunity to spend some downtime with family and friends or however we enjoy switching off.

Thursday: 90-120 mins

Thursday’s training consists of position-specific drills, possession-based drills and tactical work for Saturday’s game.

Things may go through in the tactical work are:

  • How we will set up to attack their weaknesses
  • How we can stop their threats
  • Defending and attacking set pieces

Although the length of the session can be slightly longer, it isn’t as taxing on the body as a Tuesday. Instead it requires a lot of concentration because the tactical preparation for Saturday’s game begins then, with detailed tactical work often a big part of the session.

Unlike a Tuesday, Thursday’s gym session is more power and upper body based.

Exercises we might do:

  • Box jumps
  • Lunge jumps
  • Squats (light weight load)
  • Pull-ups
  • Bench press
  • Core

The weight load is lowered to allow the body to recover before the game. Going heavy would mean we are likely to go into the game suffering from the after-affects from the session which will hinder our performance.

Thursday gym sessions are always less strength-based and more plyometric (power) based exercises. Image by Graham Scambler

Friday: 60-75 mins

Sometimes we travel to away games on Friday for an overnight stay in a hotel.

However, within the lower leagues, overnight stays aren’t as regular as in the top leagues. As a general rule at some clubs I have been at is, that unless the journey is more than a couple of hours, then travelling by coach or train on the day is the club’s preference.

Sometimes instead of training at our training ground, we will stop off and train on the way to the hotel or have a light stretching session in the swimming pool at the hotel.

The pool session is great for loosening any stiff joints and muscles from the long journey.

If we are training on the way, the club will arrange a location in advance which is normally at another football club’s training ground along our route. Whether we train en route, or at the training ground, the session will be the same.

The reason for training on the way is to set off earlier to try and avoid the Friday rush hour traffic.

Travelling to away games is normally done on a coach. Image by Richard Blaxall

Friday’s training sessions are always the most enjoyable. From start to finish everything is short and sharp with a fun, yet competitive edge with drills like:

  • Races in the warmups
  • Rondos- the aim is for a group of players to keep possession within a small area, whilst others try to win the ball back
  • Position-specific work (defenders may work on defending crosses and strikers may work on shooting)
  • Small-sided games- normally a multiple team mini-tournament, with games lasting no more than a few minutes

At the end of the session, we will then go through some more tactical work. This is to refresh everyone’s memory so come the game the next day, there is no confusion and everyone knows their roles and responsibilities at set-pieces.

Saturday:

Matchday. The day which training is based around.

Now is the time to take all of our hard work during the week and put it into our performance.

Sunday:

Recovery day. The body is sore because of the match the day before so chilling out is normally how Sunday’s are spent.

Preparation for the week ahead begins, with training to follow the next day.

‘Free weeks’, as they are called within football, give coaching staff and players the chance to work on specific things without the interference of a midweek game. Make sure you Subscribe and follow so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to compare training schedules, with and without a midweek game.


Instagram: @flyontheball_

Twitter: alexwynter_

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