Footballers should play football, no ifs no buts!

We all accept that football is a multi faceted game with an incredible amount of variablesand factors that contribute to what is termed 'football fitness'. The beating heart of our philosophy at Football Fitness Federation is that players should get the very most out oftheir football training and practices. With research that's been done (and is continuing to be done) in this area we are starting to get a better understanding of how progressively periodised football training can improve many aspects of a players fitness abilities.


Before anyone gets excited let's just get something clear, nobody is saying use games and practices EXCLUSIVELY. There will of course always be a requirement to address each players physical needs on an individual basis in the form of isolated fitness training (be it movement efficiency, strength, power, speed etc.). What we are saying is that players should play football (a crazy idea isn't it) in an organised way that continually develops not only their fitness, but all the elements identified as critical to successful performance (technical, tactical, physical, physiological and psychological). Something performance coaches from other sports get hung up on is the misconception that using games for conditioning centres solely on the use of Small Sided Games (2v2 up to 5v5) in small playing areas. This for me highlights the problem of those from other sports lacking a comprehensive understand of the types of games and practices that should be used to develop fitness for football. Those that do have an understanding recognise that games have been categorised into either Small Sided Games (SSG), Medium Sided Games (MSG) or Large Sided Games (LSG) in order to distinguish and modify the physiological responses for each (Owen et al. 2011).


Here's what some of the research says about the use of football games to develop football fitness:

The use of Small Sided Games (SSG) has been found to be as effective as non-football specific interval training in improving both V02max and running economy (Impellizzeri et al.,2006).

Research comparing the effects of SSG and High Intensity Interval Training on intermittent performance with changes of direction found that both training methods are equally effective in developing aerobic capacity. The use of SSG as a training intervention to improve players aerobic ability (in the form of 2v2 and 1v1) has been shown to improve aerobic metabolism, peripheral component, and anaerobic energetic system (H+ regulation and buffer capacity) with the added benefit of re-creating the intermittent nature of match play (Dellal et al., 2011).

A 6-week period of training sessions incorporating periodised SSGs has been found to increase the aerobic capacity, maximal aerobic power and the specific anaerobic component of a players ability to repeat high- intensity actions with multiple directional changes (Dellal et. al, 2011).


It's critical for the continued development of players that their coaches are responsible enough to understand and implement a training approach that improves a players fitness capabilities in a football context. Football comes first, without any context a players physiological capabilities are, to coin a phrase 'as useful as a chocolate teapot'.


Happy as ever to hear others thoughts and feedback

Enjoy your Football