22 players looking at a screen waiting for the fitness coach to start the session. This is one of the few possibilities left to keep players fit, as we speak. Leagues cancelled, leagues postponed, no one allowed to leave their house, until further notice, etc, etc. In short, players are not playing football. By not playing football they are loosing football fitness. Some loose their fitness faster than others. The longer time away from football the less football fit they become. The discussion if we need a (mini) preseason, if the season starts up again, has already started. What should we do if we have to finish/start (some countries still have a calendar year schedule) the season in June or July?
Rushing players back to play some games is taking risks. Therefore we should rather be discussing fitness and freshness. At the end of a season players have high football fitness levels, but low freshness. After a normal season players have about four weeks relatively off. When players come back from off-season their fitness levels have declined, but they gained freshness. In the current situation we could end up with an «off-season» way longer than four weeks. So players fitness levels are even lower than before, in spite of doing, low demanding, online fitness sessions. Which, of course, can’t be compared with playing football. But after so many weeks without football players will have gained a lot of freshness. Which could be risk factor in itself.
After a normal four week off-season a player hasn’t lost all of his football fitness. They start with lower fitness levels, but have gained freshness. By building up fitness levels gradually and at the same time maintaining freshness, a long term fitness can be build for the long season. In the current situation, with very low football fitness levels and very high freshness levels the chance of an injury increases dramatically. If there will be a re-start coaches want to rush them towards those last 5 games. Low on fitness means they are not able to maintain the demanding sessions. Players are now so eager to play (high freshness) that they will and want to do more than possible. So here is a possible chance of multiple injuries in the team. The same can be said about the start of a new season.
Lets pretend that the pre-season of the 2020/2021 campaign starts July 1. Players haven’t been playing football for about four month. Same situation as before, very low fitness levels and very high freshness levels, meaning you have 22 very eager players in front of you. Every singe coach thinks that they have to play catch up. Catching up for the loss of four month of demanding football training is suicide for your players. Players are very, very eager to get going. Coaches are very eager to show their knowledge. These two combined is a disaster about to happen. The most important thing at the moment is to stay inside and stay safe. When the time comes that we are allowed to play football again, THE most important thing is to keep your players on the pitch. How? By gradually increasing the workload. Maybe even progressing more carefully than normal. Freshness before fitness. Quality before Quantity. A prolonged pre-season could also be helpful. Just imagine if there would have been EURO 2020 as well. Think about for a moment!
Thanks for sharing and stay inside.