Receiving an invitation to represent your country should be the best thing that can happen in a footballers career. There are however some factors to discuss when looking at the workload per player. Players come from different clubs, from different countries on different continents, where there are different cultures and different training regimes. Most players invited to a national team play 90 minutes regularly. However these players play their minutes in different leagues. Football is played with a different speed of actions in these countries and continents.
One of the aspects that can play a role in the planning of the workload at a national team training camp is the clubs training regime. As medical staff of a national team this can be a huge challenge. Some clubs only play football. Some play football once a day, yet other play twice a day. Clubs sometimes implement specific injury prevention sessions, others don´t. There are clubs that do long distance running all year long, some do indoor cycling (spinning) and others even train martial arts as a form of training.
A player coming from one of the top flight leagues in Europe easily plays 90 minutes with a high speed of actions and can maintain this for 90 minutes. Those coming from a lower level league eg. Vanuatu will also be able to play for 90 minutes, but this player will be executing the exact same football actions at a much lower speed. Putting these players together in a national team is of course no problem. The question however is should these two players do exactly the same workload? The answer here is of course, no.
The player from the top flight league should be in under load at the national team camp. You know he can play the game at a high level. So keep his freshness high by sufficient recovery. His fitness is fine.
The first thought you might have is that the player from Vanuatu should train more, because he is not used to play at a very high level and therefore is not as fit as some of the other players. Obviously this is an injury about to happen. Why? Individual periodisation – part 2 The football fitness levels of the player from Vanuatu are maybe lower then the top flight player, yet both need to be as fresh as they can be, on game day. If you let the Vanuatu player do more, while he already is trying to cope with the new playing style, higher speed of actions and other external factors, you are killing his freshness, but most probably also his fitness. Too much too soon can result in injury. Which then means one less player to choose from.
Another situation is when the national team coach invites a player into the squad that has been injured regularly within a season. Is this really a smart thing to do? It is of course a choice by the coach. A player that has been injured most of the time within the last 2 months and hardly has played any game minutes is not match fit. Is it a better option to let him get match fit at his club first? Ensuring that he has gone through a sufficient training and game workload process is important. Anyway, the choice is made by the national team coach. What to do now? The communication between the medical staff at the club and the national team is very important here. The medical staff at the national team has to know exactly what this player has been doing up until the day he travels to the training camp (this also counts for all the other players by the way). This player must, as all the other players, have an individual approach towards game day. The importance here is the question of, how many game minutes do we let this injured player play? Most of the time there are two games within 4 or 5 days. Will he be a substitute in only 1 game? Will he be a substitute in both games? Do we let him play in 1 full game only? Do we let him play 2 full games? Remember he was injured for most of the season?
The goal of a national team, or better, every football team, is to win as many games as possible. You only can do this by ensuring that the best players are available all of the time. You always have to ensure that the players are fresh on game day. Using the national team camp, towards important games, as a boot camp is definitely not a smart thing to do.
There are a lot of factors the coach will be faced with during such a camp. It is not the external factors that are the problem here. It is dealing with these factors that is.
Thanks for sharing.