Fitness Requirements needed for football

As a result of a successful P.E.P I hope to improve aspects of my fitness that originally were inadequate for the standard of football I wish to play at. It is no use designing a fitness programme for football and concentrating on areas that have no relevance to the sport. For both my clubs I play as right midfield or as a right full back so I am only going to concentrate on the aspects of fitness, which I need for my specific positions. To play the game of football you need to use a vast number of muscles which also include many from the upper body region but more importantly the lower body, especially the muscles in the legs.

Football is a sport that requires high levels of physical fitness. It demands speed, agility, strength, power and endurance. The components of fitness I wish to improve are my cardio-vascular and muscular endurance. The benefits of these types of fitness attributes are that you are able to perform prolonged intermittent exercise (endurance), exercise at high intensity, sprint, and develop high levels of power (force) when kicking and tackling. The performance potential of a football player can be improved by fitness training, which is generally divided up into aerobic, anaerobic and specific muscle training. Improvements in performance depend upon the training methods used. Frequency, intensity, progressive overload, type of exercise and, specificity and recovery all play a part in determining performance.

During a game the exercise intensity varies continually therefore my P.E.P should be as realistic as possible. Coaches such as Marcello Lippi, formerly at Juventus, are big believers in individual fitness programs as every player has different needs. The physical attributes needed to play either full back or midfield are: Speed: You need to be quick over both long and short distances as you defend in wide areas and make forward runs. The benefits of sprint training are that you are able to provide extra speed and acceleration to reach the ball faster, beat opponents, stay with your opponent or avoid your marker.

Strength/ Balance: You need both strength and balance to prevent yourself being pushed off the ball and so you are able to kick the ball long distances. This is shown by David Beckham who can pass the ball huge distances with excellent accuracy. You need all round body strength whilst playing football because it will help you survive the rough and tumble in situations such as holding the ball up, shielding the ball and during physical contact with other players. The benefits of strength training is that you are able to produce more powerful shooting, higher jumping, harder tackling, longer throwing, injury avoidance and be stronger on the ball.

Cardio-Vascular endurance: Being fit and able to recover quickly is important, so that you still have the energy to make forward runs which could help to create the chances to win the game and to make short bursts of energy for chasing the ball as shown by Roy Keane, who is able to reach level 18 on the multi stage fitness test. The benefits of cardio-vascular training are that you are able to run around the field for 90 mins, as Mafe states. “In a game of football you are running around almost constantly for ninety minutes”

Muscular endurance: You need muscular endurance so that when you sprint or have to run for excessive periods of time your muscles are equipped enough to be able to extract the oxygen requirements for that movement. By improving muscular endurance there will be more mitochondria in the muscles, thus improving the ability of the muscle to generate energy. The benefits of muscular endurance training are that it gives you the ability to continue exercise and prevent fatigue, which ultimately hinders performance. Agility: Because football is multi-directional the ability to sprint is essential but equally important is the ability to turn at speed. Combining these two disciplines will improve my game.

When playing football there are three systems at work that provide you with specific types of energy. 1 and 2 are both anaerobic and number 3 is aerobic. 1) The ATP-CP system is for high intensity, short bursts of energy such as sprinting or jumping for headers. Adenosine Triphosphate is resynthesized by phosphocreatine in the muscles to provide energy. Creatine stores are able to resynthesize ATP in this way for about the first ten seconds of activity. 2) The anaerobic glycolysis system (or lactic acid system) is for intermediate bursts of quite high intensity activity. Anaerobic glycolysis produces fuel after the first ten seconds, but results in lactic acid being produced as a waste product. Lactic acid is known to cause fatigue.

3) The aerobic system is for long efforts of low to moderate intensity. After having sprinted hard we have to slow down to recover our breath. In a football match these recovery periods constitute the bulk of the playing time. I have chosen to improve my muscular endurance and my cardio-vascular fitness in football. As I am a winger or full back I need to be able to sprint over long and short distances and still need the energy to recover and last the whole 90 minutes.

My weaknesses are my upper body strength, as outlined in a relatively low score of 30 press-ups in my fitness training. This would help my game especially because I am quite small compared to the majority of other players. Both my muscular endurance and cardio-vascular endurance are not weak but I would like to improve them both because by the end of a challenging match I do suffer from fatigue. I will not incorporate speed training necessarily into my training programme but some of my exercises used to improve the above may help my speed also.

I will improve my endurance by means of circuit training. This involves creating a circuit of exercises, each of which relies on body weight to provide the resistance, rather than machinery. The benefit of this type of exercise is that it is seen as the best form of exercise for children from the ages of eight to seventeen as Ade Mafe states in his book “Football Fitness” (1998). Theorists that oppose strength training for children centre on the problems that can occur when children over train. When you do any kind of resistance exercise, stress is placed on the tendons that attach muscles to bones. In children the bones are still growing so the result of excessive stress can be retardation of growth and/or bony growths around the sites where tendons and bones connect as highlighted on the website I am therefore going to use circuit training, which is a safe and effective method of fitness training.

Circuit training is a method of training where the aim is a progressive development of the muscular and respiratory systems. It achieves all round fitness. A circuit usually has 8 to 15 stations, where at each station a different exercise is carried out for a certain amount of time. Circuit training can improve muscular endurance, cardio-vascular endurance, muscular strength, speed and agility. This is perfect for me because it will help improve all the aspects of my fitness that I have stated that I want to improve. My circuit-training programme will be specific to football and will be based over a six-week period. The stations are specifically suited to what is needed to play football. The circuit is specified for an outfield player, as there are no goalkeeping skills involved in this circuit.

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