The following is an excerpt from John's article in the August issue of Amplified Soccer Athlete magazine. Subscribe Today!
Depending on your situation, you may need some extra work to be in top shape.
This is the time of year where for most, preseason training is continuing or ending, and regular seasons are about to start. If you have prepared well, you should be in very good shape. For the top player, ‘playing themselves into shape’ is a thing of the past, as preseason preparation is very important. Most players won’t be in their ‘top’ shape at the start of the season, but will be very close.
Researchers have been interested in the question about how well fitness has been maintained during the season. Groups of sports scientists have designed and performed experiments where they measure the fitness of teams before, during and after the season. For instance, they might study two teams who have the same game and training schedule, but one of the teams does some extra fitness-specific training, like sprint work, plyometrics, strength training, or some combination. They also study how much extra fitness training is performed, such as one time per week, multiple times per week, or during every session.
The findings vary from study to study, but the general results are:
Extra fitness training is better than no fitness training
If the players have a good fitness level before the season begins, as little as one extra fitness session per week is enough to maintain fitness levels, and sometimes increase fitness levels.
You have to keep in mind that all of these studies are done on teams with different situations, and that you need to determine what is best for you. The first result (extra fitness is good) makes sense. The second result is very interesting, but it is important that you take into account your specific situation.
Teams of various levels have different playing and training schedules. Some, like high school and college teams, have a very demanding schedule of two or more games per week over a short period of a few months. Club teams have schedules that depend on their league. Many play a 9-10 month schedule with a game each weekend. Occasionally these teams may play multiple games in a weekend, such as in a tournament or showcase. Professional teams have schedules that vary throughout the season; sometimes with one or more games a week, sometimes with a week off. Add to this that training schedules vary. Some train four or more times per week, while others may train less.
Your team’s playing and training schedule, how your team trains, and what league rules allow during games will all have an impact on how well your fitness levels are maintained during a season.