Returning To Training Post Covid-19 Lockdown
As the Covid-19 Lockdown nears its end, everyone will be looking forward to getting back to normal life, which will include a return to sporting & leisure activities. For footballers up and down the country, from Grassroots Amateurs to Premier League stars, everyone will be itching to get their boots back on and kick a ball around. For many, this will include a return to structured sessions for the first time in a number of months. Therefore, it’ll be crucial to prepare for this period correctly.
In my opinion, a Return to Training can look very similar post-lockdown to how it would post-injury or post-summer break. All scenarios include a lack of team training and full exposure to the demands of match play. For most, access to facilities such as a gym or grass pitches has been non-existent. Players would have been completing sessions that may not mirror their usual training, including signing up to run tracking apps (Strava for example) and competing in long duration steady state runs with no major changes in direction. Keep reading for a 5 Stage general overview of how to progress your own individual training before football kicks off again…
Phase 1: Aerobic Runs
A simple start. Run for 3 minutes. Walk for 1minute. Complete 4 Sets.
Some of you may have been completing these types of runs already, so might already have a solid Aerobic base to build on. A strong Aerobic base should set you up nicely for the lower intensity periods of training & games, along with giving you a good opportunity to recover between High Intensity Efforts. These runs should ideally be performed in a straight line, though it may include curving your runs in the corners of the park (if so, try to complete 2 Runs in each direction). If you’re lucky enough to have access to a GPS Tracker you’ll be working within a ‘Running’ Zone here. This type of run is easily adaptable as you could regress down to 2 minute runs or progress up to 4 minute runs (or even take a longer rest between runs if you need to). As opposed to running continuously for a set period of time, your body will start to get used to the stop-start nature of team sports again (and you may even be able to get your speed up during the work periods!).
Phase 2: Straight Line Intervals.
A simple progression into faster running (again, if you’re lucky enough to have access to a GPS Device you’ll be moving into more High Speed Running Zones now).
Jog for 10 seconds. Run at a 75% Pace for 10 seconds. Jog for 10 seconds. Complete 8 Runs, take a 2 minute rest, then repeat! If you have access to a pitch you’ll roughly be Jogging between the Goal Lines & 18 Yard Boxes, and Running from one Penalty Box to the other.
As with the first batch of running, you’ll be preparing your body for some varying speeds of movement. Another progression to this could be halve the working times to 5 seconds (for both jogging & running) but cranking up the intensity to around 90% of your top speed! All of these runs should start to prepare your body to move quickly…
Phase 3: Changing Pace (Including Accelerating & Decelerating)
Ok, now its time to sharpen things up. Cut your track down to around 40 metres and split this into 10 metre sections (again if you have access to a pitch this will roughly be the width of the penalty box).
Use the first 10 metres to accelerate sharply (as opposed to the jogging you were doing between runs in Phase 2).
Move as quickly as you can for the next 20 metres.
Then slow down quickly within the last 10 metres.
Take a jog all the way back to your start point, and complete 4 sets before taking a 2 minute rest.
Got a ball? Why not try completing 4 DIFFERENT sets of these football dribbling drills? For example:
Set A: As above
Set B: As above but with the ball
Set C: As above, BUT slaloming your runs through the 10 metres zones
Set D: As above, BUT slaloming your runs through the 10 metres zones whilst dribbling with the ball
Phase 4: Changing Direction
Ok, now for the final couple of phases and the demands that you may have missed out on in the last few months. This simple & effective old school drill will start to prepare your body to change direction and start to stress through your adductors/groins.
Shuttle (Doggy) Runs! Again, these runs can easily be adapted to your own fitness levels and the environment you have access to. You can change the length of each run, along with the number of reps & sets you need to complete. Why not try the example below? If you’ve got some football cones great, if not why not use a couple of old jumpers as markers…?
Start by setting your track up with a ‘marker’ at: The Start; 5 Metres; 10 Metres; 15 Metres; 20 Metres; 30 Metres
Set A: Run to each marker then back in ascending order. Take a 45 second Rest.
Set B: As above, but in descending (reverse) order. Take a longer 90 second Rest this time.
Set C: Complete Set A again, but this time with a football!
Set D: Complete Set B again, but this time with a football!
Phase 5: End Stage
By working through the previous 4 Phases you should now have a relatively stable foundation to complete some real functional and end stage work! Why not try the following when you feel comfortable and ready to:
- Run as quickly as you can for 10 seconds. Take your time to slow down. Take as much rest as you want. Complete 3 times. This will be a great test for your hamstrings and ensure you’re moving quickly before returning to team training
- Got a few footballs and a goal? Try some longer range kicking/passing, including a build up into full striking (especially if you’re a striker!)
As with any physical session make sure you’re Warming Up pre-session and Cooling Down post-session. The FIFA 11+ is a great resource as a Warm Up (and is also available on the ‘Get Set’ app). If you’re lucky enough to have access to any extra equipment such as Hurdles & Ladders, why not utilise these as well between your warm up and the main body of your physical running? And of course, try to use a football where you can and ensure you’re keeping on top of your technical prowess! I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of a Return to Training process. All the drills should be straight forward to complete on your own so you can continue to comply with the Governments Social Distancing Guidelines. Stay Safe!
Fitness & Conditioning Coach
Peterborough United Football Club
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