I hope the last post provided you with an understanding of what a training schedule can look like without a midweek game. If you haven’t yet read it, you can find it here. As most of you will be aware, throughout the season there are numerous midweek games, so how does a training schedule change when there is a Tuesday night game that week?
Preparation for the match
Monday: 60-75 mins
The day will start with a video analysis meeting where we will watch a compilation of video clips on the opposition we will face the next day.
This allows us to see what we will come up against the following day and is where we will see the opposition’s set-pieces (corners, free-kicks), their style of play and their strengths and weaknesses.
The opposition will be the focus of the meeting but we will also watch clips from our game at the weekend to go over anything we did well and didn’t do too well, so we can continue to implement the good things and rectify the not so good things.
After the video, it’s out to the pitch to train.
Those who played a large part of the game on Saturday may step out of the session after the technical drills and have a cooldown session whilst the rest of the group continues training.
This is all about being careful with the players’ bodies. The priority is ensuring that we are feeling fresh for the game.
Whilst the starting 11 go through the cooldown, substitutes from the weekend will top up their fitness with small-sided games and possession drills.
Coaches have to find the perfect balance of getting enough work into the substitutes, whilst ensuring we are still fresh enough to be ready to play 90 minutes the following evening should we be required.
Read on to find out how this is managed!
At some point in the session, normally at the end, we go through some tactical work and set-pieces for the game.
This is what we would have seen in the video analysis but by going through it on the pitch at the end of the session, it is fresh in everyone’s minds.
We are all different and some find it easier to absorb the information this way, compared to seeing it on the video.
With an away game, sometimes we will meet earlier on in the day and travel to the game as a team with a pre-match meal at a hotel.
If the game is a long distance away and an overnight stay is required we would travel to a hotel after training on the Monday.
If either of these are the case, managers will do the video analysis at the hotel like in the picture above.
Recovery from the match
Recovery day. A day to recover either at home or sometimes at the training ground. Like most schedules, this varies from club to club and is dependant on the circumstances.
We may have had an away game the night before and we haven’t arrived home until 3 am Wednesday morning because of the location of the game. In this instance, it is unlikely the club will want us back at the training ground only a few hours after arriving home, so a recovery day away from the club would be more beneficial for our bodies to recover.
On several occasions, I have been at clubs where we, as a team, have been brought in on a Wednesday or Sunday and our scheduled day off cancelled because of a below-par performance the day before!
No-one likes being brought in on their day off, especially when it feels like a punishment!
Thursday: 75-90 mins
This would be a similar format to Monday’s session, minus the video analysis.
With 2 games in the space of 4 days, this is more likely to be the day where starters will head to the pool or gym for an extended cooldown. Recovery is important and there is an extra day (Friday) to go through any tactical work for the game.
If those who have played Tuesday night are training, we will once again do the first part of the session before breaking off to do a cooldown.
The substitutes and rest of the squad will continue training and maintain our fitness doing rounds of small possessions and games.
With there being an extra day for recovery between the games, the session for those who didn’t start on Tuesday can be more intense than the session on Monday.
The build up to matchday
Friday: 60-75 mins
If no overnight stay is required, then we will start the day with some video analysis before going out to training.
Very similar to a Friday training session without a midweek game, with short and sharp football drills being the main part. However, more time will be spent on tactical aspects due to the starting 11 not being present the day before.
The body will be feeling the effect of 2 games in 4 days so time spent away from the training ground recovering and mentally switching off is vital.
Sunday’s for me are about enjoying family time and preparing my body and mind for the week ahead.
The influence of sports science in football
I thought I would touch on sports science because I have mentioned ‘workloads‘ and the importance of players feeling fresh going into games over the last two posts.
Throughout my career, the influence of sports science in the game has improved drastically. When I first started training with the first team at Crystal Palace, sports science in football wasn’t what it is now.
The vast majority of clubs now have strength and conditioning coaches (S&C coaches), who specialize in sports science.
They take the warmups, cooldowns and gym sessions, whilst also taking over from physios once an injured player is ready to step up their rehabilitation in the gym and out on the grass.
They are in constant discussion with coaches about the workload and intensity of training and games to ensure players are getting the right amount of training and rest to aid performance.
GPS vests and the equipment available to clubs can show the staff the level of effort being put in by players and break down running distances into sprints, top speeds and other data that is of interest to the sports science department in relation to elite performance.
From the data collected by the GPS vests, training sessions can be tailored to ensure players are at their optimal level for games.
This is to ensure that players aren’t risking injuries or burnout, which then affects performances within games.
Games are the only part of the week that people get to see the fruit of our labour. I hope that from reading both parts of ‘what does a training schedule look like’, you now understand and know a little more about what goes into training in the lead-up to the games. Everything in training is geared around the matches and ensuring that when we step out onto the pitch in front of the fans, we are in the best possible condition to deliver!