Phases of Pre-season:
- Introductory phase that is purely fitness work, although there is some ball work.
- Introduction of pre-season games and an element of competition, which requires fitness and tactical/technical work.
- Shift in fitness from strength and endurance to pure speed, strength and power as well as lots and lots of technical and tactical work.
Injury prevention work is crucial, the pre-season programme should be geared in part towards ensuring the players are in the right shape to maximize their chances of avoiding injury when the season starts. Avoiding injuries is also a big priority if the players are to develop as a team and as a unit. You must make sure that when season starts the players are in match-fit condition and injury free.
Sessions should be planned to make sure that players peak at the right time, organize the training programme so that the players are ready for every game, constantly improving as the season progresses. Strength has a knock-on effect on every other fitness component, including endurance, so our philosophy is that if you get the strength right it will carry you right through the season.
Football and Fitness:
TeachPE is a big advocate of the appliance of science in football but we are adamant that it cannot be used in isolation. You can have the best scientific brains in the world but if you don't have knowledge of the sport you are working in then you are in trouble. In the same way, you can have the best coaching brain but if the coach does not understand the science then again there will be a problem.
As a coach you should try and obtain all relevant professional coaching qualifications, equipped with this knowledge you should spend a considerable amount of time devising pre-season fitness sessions so that they relate to forthcoming tactical and technical work. Even in the warm-up you can link to the session topic, that way when the players come to do their tactics it is not foreign to them - they can see how what they have done fitness-wise links up with tactics.
Sessions should be devised to push the players harder as they develop their fitness. The body adapts and finds the most economical way to cope with the pressures of a particular session goal, when repeating the same session the players will find it easier the fourth time compared to the first. However, you should be conscious of the fact that pushing the players too hard in pre-season increases the chances of them picking up injuries.