I should first note that of the many topics I have written about – in my career that includes ten books and well over 1,000 articles – few provide me as much personal and career satisfaction as this one, on the brilliant game of football (“Soccer”).
Whatever language you speak, whether you refer to it as football, fùtbol, futebol or even “soccer”, the language of joga bonito circles the globe. Like different dialects and accents, styles will vary across the world yet the simple round ball is a common denominator of the beautiful game.
Prior to presenting this article I should state a number of key structural points that need to be understood. When I wrote my book, “The Beautiful Game” on the same topic, I attempted to stress these points but in hindsight and given recent developments in the sport, I think I need to repeat my concerns.
In addition to these points I also wish it to be understood that I am presenting this article from the standpoint of academy or regional program development that I do within much of my career. The training regimen that has been presented can easily be implemented and can be implemented by a skill-specific Coach after practice.
From a cursory review, while much of the public has accepted football (or at least debated it) as having the most challenging athletic demands in the sporting world, that paints a rather distorted picture of the sporting demands. While it is correct that the physical requirements of the sport are enormous, to simply consider it “athletic” is confusing; it leads you to believe that building a great body is akin to an algebraic solution where “a + b = c”.
The development of a footballer requires a program to step far beyond the confines of simple fitness and resistance work and enhance the unique artistic skills that few games, if any, can rival. This is why the best nations and players in the world hail from areas that appreciate and cultivate the arts.
I have likely once again not emphasized this point enough but this need to enrich more right-side of brain processes within training is a dramatic difference to most training measures. This should also highlight the weaknesses of many programs that teach footy without allowing the natural creative processes of the player to flourish.
The Physical Requirements Of The Sport Are Enormous.
With this in mind I wish to stress that over the last 10-to-20 years there has been an unnerving process at the higher levels to stress a game based upon more athletic abilities then skill. And while I am very well known in other communities for developing speed to dictate performance (within North American Football), within Football, skills can never take a backseat to off-pitch training and there must be a happy medium between the physical preparedness and preserving the artistry of the game.
Unfortunately the technical and tactical aspects of the game are taking a backseat to speed and size in some nations. Oddly enough as you consider these countries lack of creative focus you’ll also see an ongoing weakness in international competition.
Nations that emphasize skill development and the artistic element of movement, most notably Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Spain and France dominate the top squads and level of play in the world.
The future vision of football needs to be in the hands of present-day luminaries such as Lionel Messi, Juan Roman Riquelme and Alessandro Del Piero and coaches who uphold the sanctity and artistry of the game.
The key to proper development is the delicate mix of appropriate conditioning work that works hand-in-hand with skill development and more importantly understands this unique creative requirement.
To try and pinpoint in a sentence the “beauty” in the beautiful game is one that surely would have different responses depending on who you asked. Certainly some will mention the tactical genius and the artistry of game skills but I tend to look at as the “simple round ball”. Obviously without edges and promotes a sense of equality.
There are many forms of strength that are considered in our work to enhance playing ability such as acceleration strength, starting strength, relative strength and strength endurance. Through the breadth of the program we will deal with each of these issues in length.
Given the enormity of this topic, I have limited my review to two of our major concerns, fitness and strength training. For a more extensive review of the entire training measures for the pitch I suggest both my book, “The Beautiful Game”, the 2008/2009 edition of the “Renegade Fùtbol Club” and my future releases on the sport at this web-site.