Football Science ● Jun 27, 2020

Football training to resume, at a lower intensity

(Photo: Young Lions)


SINGAPORE, 27 JUNE 2020 – Having gone more than two months without proper on-field training, coaches and players alike have been raring to get back on the field.


They can now gear up towards the restart of training as Singapore enters phase 2 of the post-circuit breaker period where sports and recreation facilities re-open with safe management measures put in place.


The FAS Football Science and Medicine (FSAM) department has however cautioned that training intensity should be adjusted according to players’ physical condition at the initial stage.


Head of FSAM Haiyum Jaafar said: “The lack of match intensity and timing in football-specific intense actions during the circuit breaker could result in lowered football-related physical fitness, elevated match-induced fatigue and injury risk as well as longer recovery times for players. The rapid shift from non-football-specific to football-specific movements, actions and speeds of movement might also cause a strain on players.”


“Without the actual physical demands of a contact sport during the circuit breaker period, the body composition and exercise performance will be altered and will require time to reverse. As such, adjustments have to be made to cope with the amount of detraining.”


(Photo: Geylang International)


Training strategies should ideally follow three key rules – progressiveness of loading, specificity of actions (sequence/football specifics) and speeds that mimic the demands of a football match, as well as preparation for the worst-case scenario. Where possible, it should be controlled and regulated according to individual’s responses (i.e. internal load).


A modified or condensed version of a pre-season schedule is recommended to accommodate mixed levels of preparation from players. Warm up games will be required to determine players’ fitness levels.  Concurrently, injury prevention programs for ankle stability, groin adductors and hamstring are encouraged to minimise the risk of injuries. The use of physical and psychological screening tools, if available, may provide useful information to support appropriate planning and programming.


Athletes may also require psychological support given the challenges associated with isolation and a change in regular training routine. While training restrictions may result in a decrease in some physical and psychological qualities, athletes can return in a positive state following an enforced period of rest and recovery.


(Photo: Tampines Rovers)


FIFA Fitness Instructor Mark Jones, who conducted a webinar on fitness conditioning last month, commented: “Return to training in small groups should be dedicated to moderate and high intensity aerobic training performed in a football-specific manner, which is crucial to familiarise players with realistic movement patterns, combined with basic power training.


“Power training in football can be separated into basic, transference and football-power training which all are interconnected and should be performed on a regular basis. To improve muscle power, a combination of basic and transference power training with inclusion of football-specific actions is preferred.”


To counteract the effect of fatigue, coaches may consider scheduling power training towards the end of training sessions or in the earlier training on days with double sessions.


“A gradually intensified training using small-sided games and speed endurance production training is highly recommended to speed up endurance adaptations. Aerobic fitness should be also progressively increased with high intensity football-specific drills (anaerobic fitness),” Haiyum added.


To help clubs and players cope and prepare for the resumption of training, the FSAM department has conducted several webinars during the circuit breaker period, including a session to educate and share with club fitness coaches on training plans and methods.


The FAS will continue to provide assistance to clubs, coaches and players where required during the post-circuit breaker period in preparation for the full resumption of training and matches.