Periodisation & Bodø/Glimt; What Does A Regular Working Week Look Like For Norway's Most Effective Team?
Word is getting out about Bodø/Glimt. All of Europe can now see the form the Eliteserien leaders are displaying and attention on both the team and the Eliteserien in general has never been higher. We are delighted to welcome Mike Brown to the site, who will regularly be providing unparalleled insight into the workings behind Norway's most effective team.
Mike is a physio by trade but has taken on the role of Physical Coach with Glimt since the beginning of the 2019 season. In this piece, he takes behind the scenes and outlines what a regular training week is like for players & coaches. Glimt have undeniably looked on another level in terms of fitness & conditioning this season, so it's incredibly interesting to see how they put their sessions together with the end goal of gaining three points week on week.
by Mike Brown
Hello and welcome to what I hope is the first of many pieces throughout the 2020 Eliteserien season. I am hoping that these articles will allow me to share some of my experiences from English and Norwegian Football and give you an inside look the role of the medical and physical team.
In this first piece I hope to give you an insight into how clubs structure the working week to have the best chance of winning on a game day.
Given the multiple games we face at the moment it is more important than ever to ensure plans are carefully thought out and implemented successfully. I will give an overview on one way of structuring a “normal week” where games are played Sunday to Sunday, this will follow a number of simple rules which can be modified to fit a more cramped schedule.
A quick disclaimer that these are all my opinion based on experience and that there are hundreds of different ways in which great practitioners choose to prepare their teams. There is no right answer but there should always be good reasoning as to why a particular philosophy is being used.
It's a simple enough idea but the primary focus should always be maintaining a high level of performance throughout the season and winning football matches. The secondary focus, which has a major impact on the first, is ensuring injury rate is low which in turn allows coaches more time to work with players on the training field.
Like every other physical coach/Physio out there, I have read a lot of research completed by people much more intelligent than myself and have taken key points from these theories to create this philosophy which like all things is constantly evolving in line with updated research.
What is 'Periodisation'?
So, a quick intro into the theory of periodisation. This is a structured plan which aims to make sure players are available for training as much as possible meaning coaches can spend more time coaching them. The longer the players spend on the pitch the better the communication and decision making becomes and they develop a greater understanding of how to execute the playing style. Planning and outlining key principles when structuring a working week can be a vital part of a successful season.
Applying a 'Periodisation' Model
Being able to put this into process starts with discussing the different options and ensuring everyone agrees on the way you plan to structure things. A big reason why these models fail is when not everybody buys into it.
Everybody knows that playing a 90-minute football match places a high physiological demand on players. Therefore, there is a need to make sure each training session is tailored to the needs of the players throughout the week. There are some simple guidelines giving directions on which type of drills and the intensity just be used at different stages in the week. I find these are useful to follow in order to try and create the perfect situation. By adhering to these guidelines it is possible to keep the quality of each training session high, allowing the players to maintain high intensity football and ensure all conditioning work is completed with the matchday performance as the ultimate focus.
Planning a Normal Week
When planning a week a number of factors need to be considered and discussed as there are many areas of discussion and I think it’s important to try and be flexible and not lose focus from the reason we are all here. As much as we might like to imagine it, nobody pays to come and watch the physical coach and physios. So with that in mind if the coaches want the week to focus on a particular aspect of football it’s our jobs to tailor that into our philosophy.
Key Points to Consider
- Have the players been able to recover sufficiently since the last match?
- What do the coaches need/want to achieve so the players are ready for the next match?
- What do we need to do physically to enhance the teams tactical approach?
This above image highlights the structure used when planning a “normal week”, coaches are aware of the requirements of each session and the players should have a sound understanding of what is expected from them. If the intensity of the sessions hits the required level there is very little input required from the physical coaches which means players condition within football specific situations rather than “running laps” with the physical coaches.
Intensity is a word that is used all too often, so for the context of this, intensity is simply defined as how hard the players are working.
Physical parameters are always difficult to predict and depends on a number of factors including; training focus, playing style and the training group (for example, are there a lot of youth team players involved and what is the effect of the previous and accumulative load on the players).
With this in mind I haven’t gone into detail around a “target” physical target for each day. Another quick point is central nervous system fatigue, at this stage it’s not worth getting bogged down with the science behind this but it is actually not as complex as it sounds. When a player is suffering from CNS fatigue, they may struggle to engage certain muscles and can feel physically unable to complete certain tasks. It is important to note that certain football actions such as shooting and crossing the ball places high stress on the body and can lead to increase fatigue so should avoided at certain times during the week.
MATCH DAY +1: MONDAY
For me, this means that the players are completely off and have no involvement in club activities. I think it’s really important where possible to give the players a chance to “switch off” and try and remove themselves from the daily pressures of being a footballer.
From my experience in Norway this works perfectly for home games. The issue we have had previously is that occasionally we travel back the day after the game so then the players' day off would be spent travelling.
The way I would propose to combat this is to switch Match Day +1 and Match Day +2. So, players can do a light recovery session when arriving back and then the second day is a full day off.
MATCH DAY +2: TUESDAY
I personally think this is one of the most important days of the week for the medical and physical team, it gives us the chance to reassess injuries and provide extra conditioning for players who didn’t play much in the previous game and put plans in place regarding training and playing time for that week.
Following a day off players are potentially at their least mobile and flexible as muscles tend to tighten up after the game, therefore, the warm up should focus on mobility as it is often the day of most soreness so the duration of the session should be fairly short and kept at around 45 minutes.
In terms of the session a restart day's aim is to add some active recovery and switching the players’ minds back on so they are ready for a heavy session the following day. Activities used in this can vary between anything from football tennis to rondos, simple football movements to reactive the players.
During these sessions we are wary of over exerting the players, causing further fatigue in the acquisition days. The physical targets should reflect the main focus of “restarting” the players and coaches should avoid shooting and crossing drills which may place a large stress on the players physically.
MATCH DAY -4: WEDNESDAY
TACTICAL- DEFENCE/TRANSITION FOCUSSED
This is the first real “working” session of the week so the duration starts to creep up and can be between 60-90 minutes. The players should now have fully recovered from the previous game and the focus should now be on preparing for the next match.
The emphasis in this session is on defence and transitional play but again if the coaches want a slightly different focus the session needs to be manipulated to match the periodisation plan. The session is based on short episodes of high intensity football actions on a small area. The session will place a lot of change of direction demands on the players. The warm up should be a power-based session so a lot of jumping is included. I like to use a combination of pitch and gym-based prep in order to give the boys a really big power input.
MATCH DAY -3: THURSDAY
BIG PLAY- 11 vs. 11
This is the session where the coaches can do the most “realistic” match prep with players all playing in their proper positions on a full-sized pitch. With that in mind the warm up should expose players to high speed actions. The warm up total should be somewhere around the 10 minute mark and include 4/5 sprints close to maximum capacity. But as always, it depends on the coaches’ plan. If they want to go directly into a shooting/crossing drill or a high velocity attacking drill then the warm up would need to be extended or modified.
The overall duration of the session should be around 60-90 minutes and coaches should also limit drills before the 11 vs. 11 to get the most time in big play as possible.
This is the session that is most like a real game scenario so that is reflected in the physical metrics, this is also the session that we will see players hit the biggest amount of sprint metres in the week, so everything should be done in big areas with players playing in their normal positions. Given the importance of being on a full-sized pitch the focus should be to have as many people available for this session as possible. With that in mind, if players require any additional rest, this should be given on a different day to get as many people on the pitch as possible.
MATCH DAY -2: FRIDAY
TACTICAL- ATTACK FOCUS
There will be an element of fatigue following the previous days' big play, so a combined gym-based mobility session followed by a fast feet warm up acts as a restart. Focus is on small sided games giving short bouts of high intensity actions. Unlike MATCH DAY -4 there should be more emphasis on preventing fatigue so there needs to be plenty of rest in-between games.
MATCH DAY -1: SATURDAY
I like to keep this session short and sharp with nothing more than 45 minutes on the pitch, something that can be difficult if coaches have a particular point to get across!
This is a session which for me can be more flexible than the rest. The target of any week is 3 points so if the coaches feel the need to do a particular drill or focus then as long as it sticks to the parameters (or close enough) it is no problem.
Shooting and crossing drills can be completed, (it would take a brave man to tell some of our players they can’t shoot the day before a game!) but again it’s about fatigue and freshness so the less time it takes coaches to get the point across the better. This is also reflected in the warm up which has slight mobility focus but it essentially a good old-fashioned simple no thrills warm up.
I think it’s also important to make this session as fun as possible, there's nothing better than seeing the boys laughing and joking the day before a match as the energy that it can create can be vital.
A factor to consider is also when to train. There are a lot of ideas on this i.e. train later, which lets the players sleep longer so they are fresher and train later the day before a game to replicate playing time on match day. For me I like to keep to a structure and think giving the players a regular routine gives them one less thing to worry about. Trying to be consistent gives a player with children a better chance of arranging child care when needed and generally gives all the boys more of a chance to plan the rest of their lives away from football, which as we know can be a very anti-social career at times.
The only thing that alters this is the game schedule and things like travel time around matches. For me, I want to keep the session the day before a match as short as possible so if we are travelling at 16:00 we will train later in the day so the total working day is shorter.
I hope I have been able to give you a little insight into the way things are done from my experience and hopefully by following these simple guidelines players should hopefully have the best chance of completing more training sessions. In turn this will provide more exposure to coaching and conditioning which will give the players the best chance at developing their skills and keeping to the ultimate goal of maintaining high levels of performance and winning football matches consistently.