Individual periodisation – part 2


Football is an individual team sport. In other words, 11 individuals have to learn how to work together as a team. However, these 11 players all have different backgrounds and respond differently to certain training methods Individual Periodisation. A coach should therefore, after he planned the team workload, individualize the workload for each and every player. An assistant coach, specialized in individual periodisation, would be perfect for this job.

In some cases extra care must be considered. As mentioned in previous posts one of the main aspects to consider when planning individually is the total football workload put upon the player. This post discusses possible situations where you as a coach have to plan accordingly:
– A player with an injury history
– A youth player joining the 1st team
– Lower level of play to higher level of play

Injury history
A player with a known injury history should structurally train less then his team mates. You know as a coach, that at times, your demanding way of training and playing can be too much for some players. Automatically you adjust the workload for (new) players with an injury history, so that even the players that are «injury prone» or «unlucky» can play the whole season. You might even consider a lower match load for a particular player. A player that can execute a certain task very well, but can´t do that for 90 minutes, can still be of great value for the team for 70 game minutes per week. One of the main factors to consider is the workload with a player with a known injury history. If a player with an injury history joins your team and he is good for 3 sessions and 60/70 minutes per week it could be a good deal after all.

Youth team player joining 1st team
Let´s imagine an U19 player who will join the first team in the upcoming season. This player trains 4 times per week with the U19´s and plays 1 game per week. In the next season he will join the first team who trains 5 times per week and plays on average 1 game per week. Not only does the U19 player have to train more often when joining the first team, he also has to play football at a much higher tempo. His football actions are exactly the same as with the U19´s, but the speed at which he has to execute these football actions increases dramatically. You may expect that the tempo at the first team is higher then with the U19´s meaning that there is less space and time to execute actions with the first team.

What does 1 extra session per week have to say on the total workload on the body of the nineteen year old? Not much you might think. The following metaphor will hopefully give you more insight into why it is not a good idea to let a youth team player do the same workload as the experienced 27 year old.

You have decided to start running to get back in shape. In your first session you will run for 20 minutes at 10km/h. Since this went well you decide to run for 30 minutes at 15km/h the week after. Not only are you running faster and longer you also do this two days in a row. Maybe you cope once but not for two days in a row. You will not only accumulate fatigue quicker, but will you be able to handle this workload for several weeks? This is, as you can imagine, not a very smart way to get back in shape. It is rather a perfect way to get injured, as often seen in daily practice. Fitness build up quick will disappear even faster. So, faster, longer and more is not the way to get into shape without having consequences in the long run.

Now back to our U19 player. He normally trains four times per week at 10km/h with the U19´s for example. When joining the 1st team he suddenly trains at 15km/h five times per week. This means that the U19 player is training at a higher speed of action because of less space and time and he is also training more often. Training at a higher speed of action means that the U19 player accumulates fatigue quicker and he also has to do this more often (5x per week). Soon he will be using his ‘reserves’ which will, at a certain time, show in his performance.
He will probably cope for a certain period of time, but there is a big chance of a setback or even an injury. Not letting him participate in the football conditioning sessions and temporary fewer sessions is a safe transfer from the U19s to the 1st team. This way the U19 player is gradually introduced to the speed of action with the 1st team, without a setback or injury. Thereafter the amount of sessions can be increased gradually.

The same can be said for players coming from a lower level of play who are now joining a higher league team. Even if the player is an adult player he still needs to let his body gradually adapt to the higher speed of actions at the new club. At the new club there is less space and time between actions, meaning the tempo will be higher. There are of course other factors that have to be taken into consideration when joining a new club. Factors like a new environment, new team mates, new manager have to be taken into consideration. The new player also uses energy thinking about these external factors. The lower level player will, as the youth player, accumulate fatigue faster and therefore need more recovery time. Both the youth player and the player coming from a lower level should have a temporary lower football workload to get accustomed at their new club.

Even though it sounds very easy to just reduce/adjust the workload, experience shows that players should train less if this means a place in the squad on Sunday. One thing we must not forget is to explain why you choose to do so to the rest of the team. You have to ask yourself the question: Is it really a big problem if 2 players do a little less on Wednesday’s session if they are fit to play? The most important day of the week for the player is game day. Football is a game sport, not a training sport.

Thanks for sharing.

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