Improving your players, the safe way
Our coaching resources and education are here to assist your coaching journey to ensure you and your players are well equipped to prepare effectively, perform at your best and recover well to get the best from your players.
Did You Know – Females are 6-8 times more likely to rupture their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in their knee than males keeping them out of the game for at least 12months.
Find out how you as a parent can improve the fundamental movements of your child with some fun games:
The most effective and evidence-based activity to best prepare you to perform on the field both mentally and physically.
What should be included in a good warmup?
Top Warmup Tips
Check out our evidence-based GOLD standard warmups below that enhance performance and reduce the risk of all injuries by 30% and severe injury by up to 50%.
To find out more about what a great warm up looks like within a training session or match day, check out our range of coach education workshops.
Your guide to the physical fundamentals through to specific football conditioning that build your players physical capacity to meet the demands of the game and development phase.
What is Strength & Conditioning (S&C)?
Strength and conditioning is the practical application to enhance quality movement. However, we need to make this specific to the game of football and futsal to meet the demands of the game.
If we focus on movement quality and components relative to the game, we’ll improve performance with a specific focus on speed, strength, and stamina. This also helps prevent injury, keeping you in the game for longer.
Let’s look at what S&C looks like in football and why it’s important:
How can I improve these areas with my players?
A few specific drills and exercises added to a training session will make a huge impact ensuring you progress with results without adding extra sessions to your schedule which will ultimately enhance your players and overall team performance.
Check out these simple yet effective drills that can added to training that will enhance your players physical ability specific to football:
1. Improve Speed
Nordic hamstring lowers are an effective and evidence-based exercise for increasing strength, sprint speed and guarding the hamstrings against injury.
Start with 3-5 repetitions and as you become stronger and more efficient, progress to 6-10 and then 10-15 repetitions.
Plyometric exercises such as bounding help improve coordination and rhythm and is a powerful tool for improving speed from 5-20 meters, or mid-acceleration. It will also make you more powerful in explosive movements, such as changing directions and jumping off one leg.
Bound 2 x 20 meters (best completed post warm up or incorporated within your warmup)
Sprinting has many benefits but to become faster and more efficient at sprinting, you must sprint!
It's been shown that sprinting whilst not under fatigue, improves all 3 of our football components - muscle strength, stamina, and speed!
Sprint 2 x 30 meters post warm up (your sprints will be more effective post warm up and not under fatigue).
2. Improve Strength
Adding an element of strength work to training can be completed post warm up or at the end of training.
Check out the following combinations that provide both core and leg strength which are 2 vital aspects in football performance:
C O M B I N A T I O N 1
C O M B I N A T I O N 2
3. Improve Stamina
Although Stamina is an important aspect of football, many of our players are getting enough stamina training by turning up to sessions and matches.
There may be a need to top up those players who are not playing every week, but this should be a small minority.
If you or your players are struggling with stamina, tiredness, or are lacking the ability to last a full game, you need to have a conversation with your coach/player. There are several reasons why a player maybe feeling tired with one of those aspects being overtraining/overload. Click here to find out more on managing load.
Top Stamina Tips
Did you know?
Junior players (up to 12 years of age), please refer to the junior 11+ Kids warmup examples to improve your strength and fundamental movements.
Check out our evidence-based GOLD standard S&C exercise programme below that enhance performance and reduce the risk of all injuries by 30% and severe injury by up to 50%.
To find more useful information for coaches, check out our list of coach resources.
The physical demands of our game, plus the social demands of life, schooling, social environment and any emotional strains, all interconnect and impact upon a player’s overall load and general wellbeing.
What is load?
The physical demands of our game, the social demands of life, school, work, social environment and any emotional strains, all interconnect and impact upon a player’s overall health and wellbeing. Find out what you can do as a coach to navigate through these complex interactions, as well as understand how they might be impacting on a player’s overall health and wellness.
All the aforementioned factors contribute to what we term ‘load.’ To give a definition.
Load = The amount of stress placed on the player both internally and externally.
Stress = A state of physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
So how do we monitor and manage a player’s load?
Monitoring players is essential to define the relationship between the amount of stress that’s been placed on the body, and the risk of injury.
Some simple examples could include:
Signs and symptoms of overtraining/overload:
Top Tips To Manage Load
See how the most common and debilitating injuries in football impact our game and what you can do to help your players return to play more effectively.
As football is a lower-extremity sport, the most common injury site in a football player is the ankle. The ankle is one common area that can sustain injury if we do not prioritise our preparation and recovery. Inadequate warm up preparation, inadequate training, fatigue (both acute and chronic), and poor recovery from previous injury are all factors that can contribute to injury that we can influence.
The most common type of ankle injury is a sprain, while more severe injuries such as fractures, ligament tears and cartilage damage can also occur. Striking a ball, changing direction, and landing while receiving body contact, are all common ways in which someone might injure their ankle.
You can treat a minor ankle injury at home by following the P.O.L.I.C.E method.
For the first few days after your injury, Protect the injured area, ensure you provide Optimal Loading, Ice it, Compress it, and Elevate it.
If you suspect your injury is severe or if swelling and bruising persists, make an appointment with your doctor, physiotherapist, or go to the emergency department. The following symptoms may be a sign of a severe injury that requires professional care:
You should also contact a medical professional if you have an injury that seems minor but doesn’t improve with home treatment.
Ankle Injury Prevention
Your first line of defence against ankle injury is an effective warm up. The gradual progression in intensity as well as exposure to wide variety of movements within a warmup gives your body the opportunity to perform movements in a controlled manner. Therefore, when we compete in football, which is more chaotic in nature, and we are reactive to opposition and the game, our body is prepared.
Further, proprioception exercises should be included in our warmup and can be done outside of the warmup to further reduce the risk of injury. Anything where we are jumping and landing, balancing on one leg, or challenging our single leg stability strengthens all the musculature in the lower leg as well as those which provide security to our ankle.
ACL - The anterior cruciate ligament helps to provide stability during movements of rapid changes of direction, pivoting, and landing. An injury to the ACL is most commonly non-contact (e.g., change in direction), although some ACL injuries can occur from contact (e.g., blow to the knee). A “pop” or “snap” sound is sometimes heard, but not always. Often, a player will experience pain and swelling to the area and will not be able to continue play.
Injuries to this ligament may result in the knee feeling loose or unstable. Surgical reconstruction followed by extensive rehabilitation is the traditional treatment. However, there is still the non-surgical option to treat the injury with rehabilitation, allowing other structures (muscular control and balance) to take over the job of the ACL.
Knee (ACL) Injury Prevention
Completing evidence-based warmups and exercise programmes can reduce the risk for ACL injuries by over 50%. Components of these training programmes may include:
The “hamstrings” are a group of muscle located down the back of your thigh. They’re a major muscle group involved in multiple football actions; primarily - sprinting and running, jumping, and striking the ball. Not only are they involved in these key footballing movements, but they are major players, and their strength is essential in order to execute these actions well.
The most common cause of hamstring injury is when the muscle extends quickly or beyond its end range, resulting in damage to the muscle fibres of the hamstrings (often a tear.) Common examples when you may see a hamstring injury occur could be; during sprinting (as the athlete extends their leg out and forward), lunging for the ball (again, extending the leg out quickly), or when striking the ball (as the leg moves into end range at the end of the strike.) Often, we see this happen near the later stages of a game when muscles are fatigued or sometimes near the start/restart due to insufficient warming up of the hamstrings.
You can treat a minor hamstring injury at home by following the P.O.L.I.C.E method.
You should also contact a medical professional if you have an injury that seems minor but doesn’t improve with home treatment.
Hamstring Injury Prevention
We need to always ensure our body is ready to complete the physical demands of the game before we train or play. That is, we need to warm up! An effective warm up gradually increases in intensity and prepares the body for the movements it is about to complete. Our ‘Gold standard’ 11+ warmup is a scientifically validated example of a warmup that is effective in both preparation and injury prevention.
In addition to this, hamstring injury prevention should focus on ‘getting strong through extension’ as this is the common cause of injury as described above. We want to make sure that we can extend our hamstrings (sprint, jump, strike the ball) for the full 90 minutes with strength and quality. This will ensure that not only do we stay healthy and on the pitch, but key footballing actions will be performed with high quality.
The most common example of a hamstring strengthening exercise that works your muscles through full range is the Nordic Hamstring Curl. As you slowly lower, your hamstrings work to slow your fall. As you get lower to the ground, more and more fibres along the hamstrings are recruited to control this fall. Working to get stronger and fall further, or, working on the number of repetitions you can successfully fall all the way will help prepare your hamstrings for trainings and games!
Other exercises you can perform to minimise the risk of hamstring injury:
A concussion (also known as mTBI – mild traumatic brain injury) is a brain injury induced by biomechanical forces. It may be caused by a direct blow to the head, face, neck, or elsewhere on the body with an ‘impulsive’ force transmitted to the head.
A player does not need to be knocked out (unconscious) to have sustained a concussion. A concussion typically results in the rapid onset of short-lived impairment of neurological function that resolves spontaneously.
Symptoms can include the following:
This our suggested guidelines to guarantee return to play after a potential Concussion:
RecogniseIdentify if a player has a concussion by assessing their signs and symptoms. Some indicators include:
Remove from playA player should be removed from play immediately if a concussion is suspected. A player should never return to play on the day of a concussive injury.
Refer for medical assessmentAny player who is suspected of having sustained a concussion should have an assessment from a medical doctor. Only a medical doctor can diagnose a concussion.
Rest and recoveryThe majority (80-90%) of concussions resolve in a short (7-10 day) period. Some players will have more long-lasting symptoms. Players diagnosed with a concussion need to rest and adhere to all guidelines provided by their medical doctor.
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