Pre Game Training

28 February 2018 Ben Cartwright football, fitness, footballfit, gym, workout

Training around games is a constantly debated topic. Many players we have spoken to have been quite confused on what they should and shouldn’t do around games.


How much training is too much?

How much is too little?

What will make me sore?


…all frequently asked questions.


Many factors have to be considered when planning your training however we intend to clear up some confusion with this blog.


Firstly we must bare in mind that any training we do is supplementary to performance on a match day. Therefore no form of training away from the pitch should be at a detriment to performance. Tiredness, soreness, fatigue are all factors which we must be wary of when training close to games.

We have spoken previously in ‘The secret to starting games fast’ blog about priming the nervous system. On that occasion it referred to a pre match warm up. We are also able to prime the body days before a game with the way we structure our gym sessions.


The common theme of conversation with players around training before games is that they tend to experience soreness (DOMS).


This is caused by a number of possible factors.


From experience one of the main reasons is that players are unaware of how training volume can control soreness.






These along with many others are the possible protocols used by players when lifting in the gym. This means that players will complete between 25 and 32 reps on that particular exercise.


They are common protocols used by bodybuilders as they require high volume to constantly grow. As footballers we can use certain protocols from the bodybuilding world but following a full bodybuilding routine in season is pretty silly, especially close to game days.


Another factor is how we can manipulate exercises to achieve the desired stimulus from exercises without the fatigue and soreness. The Isometric & Eccentric phases of a movement are what generally cause soreness. Removing or limiting these parts of the movement can ensure that players will still get the nervous system response required without experiencing anything that may negatively affect performance.

We have shown some examples of this on our youtube page below:

These exercises are all concentric focused. We suggest that these can be incorported in to a session by using a 3x3 or 4x2 approach. This allows the movements involved to be loaded and the relevant muscle to be stimulated without causing unneccesary soreness and fatigue.

This combined with mobility, flexibility and corrective work or injury prehab/rehab will make up a session that we recommend before games. These may be carried out on match day -1 or match day -2. By using this approach we have found that players feel a greater readiness on match days.

Any feedback on this blog is welcome and if you would like more information or ideas check out our football fitness community (link below).

Football Fitness Federation