FFF meets Tom Little

17 January 2018 Alan Mockford football, fitness, footballfitness, performance, interview

The next of our FFF meets series in association with Soccer Science Conference sees us catch up with Tom Little Fitness Coach with Preston North End F.C. 
Tom talks us through his current role and what he is most passionate about in relation to football fitness.

Can you give us some background about yourself regarding your career, experience and development to date?

I’ve worked in pro football for 18 yrs. I started straight after I graduated and worked for consultant company who had a decent monopoly in football. It was a great grounding whilst I was wet behind ears, & worked for some fantastic clubs like Man City, Leeds Bolton & met so many great coaches. I left to work with Forest so could pursue my PhD & I wanted to position myself as football conditioning expert. Since then worked as head of fitness for a number of clubs, lucky enough to be associated with some good teams, picking up 6 promotions, and I’m now at preston in 4th season & love it there. 

Why/how did you become involved with the soccer science conference?

I’ve known Rhys for a while and he told me about the specifics of the conference & asked me if I was interested. It was a no brainer – loads of great presenters & applied topics. I’m really looking forward to it.

What can we expect to see from you at the conference in terms of what you are presenting?

I’m part of a round-table on different weekly training structures, along with Jonny Northeast, Mat Taberner & Rhys. I’ve presented on the topic a few times, & find it fascinating, both within football and in other sports.

Can you (very briefly) summarise your approach to developing football fitness:

It's mainly about controlling training load so you apply sufficient load to improve fitness qualities at appropriate times, and control load around competition so players are sufficiently recovered.

What area would you say you are most passionate about in the area of football fitness?

Using football drill for fitness. It was my PhD subject, I’ve presented on it several times, developed software to aid session design, and I’ve developed a Football Fitness model for an international governing body.

Do you have a recommended read for S+C coaches working in football? 

The classic – Fitness training for football by Bangsbo and his PhD thesis

Who do you follow on twitter: 


What do you feel is the biggest training mistake others make in developing football fitness?

Tactical periodisation model is fantastic but the back-to-back hard training days can bring problems too. Also, working too hard after international break.

What has been the most effective thing you do in terms of career development/CPD?

To try & visit other practitioners.

What are the 3 key training philosophies you adopt with your players?

The 3 E’s – Effective, Efficient, Enjoyable

What has been the most useful thing you’ve done to help your practice?

Doing regular audits. If you can’t get an external one, imagine a new manager is coming in & he is judging your work. Use a subjective scale to estimate the importance of different area to oversee (e.g. nutrition, Strength, etc) and how you rate current provision. Then concentrate on where the biggest gaps between the importance & provision exist.

What recovery methods do you use with your players?

We use steady CV, tissue work, cryotherapy and supplements. However, overall, I think a day off is just as beneficial. Sleep & nutrition are the keys.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In a home.

You can see Tom along with a host of other Elite level practitioners at the 1st Annual Soccer Science Conference on June 4th 2018 at the home of Bristol City, Ashton Gate, details can be found on Soccer Science webpage

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