Experienced Strength & Conditioning Coach with 6 yrs experience. Skilled in physical preparation of athletes. Graduated from St Mary's University, Twickenham & studying MSc at University of Glasgow. Worked at Malmö FF (5 yrs), The Movement & Running School (7 mos), one element ltd (2 yrs 4 mos).
Soccer players tend to peak in terms of performance and skill around their mid to late 20s, at which point they may need to rely more on their skill as their physical attributes decline. Transcript: "So when do you think soccer players peak in terms of performance and skill? This depends really. It depends on the individual, on their genetics, on their training regime, and how they kind of play the game. So in terms of performance, I would have said players probably peak around their mid to late 20s. And at that age, then their physical attributes may drop off slightly, and they have to rely more on their skill. And this could be anything from their technical skills to their tactical awareness. And I think that can continue to improve throughout their career."
Carbohydrate periodization is recommended for athletes, where the amount of carbs consumed should change based on the activity of that day. For a 75-kilogram athlete, this would look like eating 8 grams per kilo (600 grams) on match days minus 1 and plus 1, 6 grams per kilo (450 grams) on hard training days, 4 grams per kilo (300 grams) on light training days, and 3 grams per kilo (225 grams) on rest days. Transcript: "So this is known as carbohydrate periodization. And yes, the amount you eat-- the amount of carbs you eat should change based on what you're doing that day. So for a game day, I typically class it as match day minus 1, match day, and match day plus 1. That's going to be your highest carbohydrate consumption. A hard practice, obviously, is going to be more than a light practice, which is also going to be more than a rest day. So for example, for a 75-kilogram athlete, I would suggest on a game day eating around 8 grams per kilo of body weight. So that's going to be around 600 grams of carbs. On a hard training day or hard practice day, it's going to be around 6 grams per kilo of body weight, which is around 450 grams of carbs. A light training day is going to be a little bit less, around 4 grams per kilo of body weight, which is going to be around 300 grams of carbs. And an off day, your lowest day, that's going to be around 3 grams per kilo of body weight, which is around 250-- 225 grams of carbs."
Mental toughness in elite soccer players is developed through training and matches, as well as having the confidence to complete a task regardless of the situation. Transcript: "So where do elite soccer players most commonly develop their mental toughness? In my personal opinion mental toughness comes from the confidence in yourself that you can execute a certain skill. So I would have said mental toughness comes from training and matches and and being exposed to certain scenarios over and over again and it's almost you have to keep getting the reps in whether that's in training or in a game. I think they are way more important than any of the other mental toughness training, grueling, conditioning runs and that kind of thing that that doesn't really apply to to football. It comes more from the understanding that you can complete a task regardless of the situation you're in."
To improve the strength and endurance of soccer players, recommend a combination of lower body strength exercises, one strength session per week, with low volume and high intensity in season and higher volume with low intensity off-season. Also recommend use of longer endurance runs and higher intensity work for off season. Transcript: "What strategies do you recommend to improve the strength and endurance of soccer players? So for strength we tend to use a combination of lower body strength exercises typically a quad dominant lift, a knee dominant hamstring exercise, a hip dominant hamstring exercise and a groin exercise and the calf and tabam as well. That kind of covers the most commonly injured areas in football and general rules for strength training would be at least one strength session per week ideally on match day minus three or four and if it's in season you want to keep the volume low but the intensity high and if it's in the offseason or preseason then you can go a little bit higher with the volume and a little bit lower with the intensity. In terms of endurance in season for the most part players are going to get exposed to enough endurance training through the actual football training whether that's small sided games or other possession games or tactical drills so there's not really as much of a need to to train that in season. In the offseason it may be more important to use a combination of longer endurance runs and some shorter and higher intensity work as well."
If you don't have access to a gym, you can still get a strength session in with exercises such as reverse Nordic, single leg squats, split squats, Nordic, slide outs, long lever bridges, single leg audios, Copenhagen holds, Bulgarian Squats, calf raises, and weighted step-ups. Transcript: "So if you don't have access to a gym but do want to get a strength session in, I would recommend doing something like this. I'd still aim for a quad dominant lift, a hamstring, a hip dominant lift, a knee dominant lift, a groin and a calf slash taban exercise. Quad dominant lift could be something like a reverse nordic or a single leg squat or a rear foot elevated split squat. Knee dominant hamstring could be something like a nordic or a slide out if you've got a slippery floor. Hip dominant lift may be something like a long lever bridge or a single leg RDL. Your groin, you've got the Copenhagen holds which are great or a bull squeeze or something like that. And calf and taban, you could do calf raises standing on a step or wall taban raises. Those are all great options to still get a session in without actually being in the gym."
Yes, nutrition is a key factor in soccer performance. It can help with maintaining physical condition, fuel performance, aid recovery and prevent fatigue during matches. Transcript: "So is there a correlation between nutrition and soccer performance? The short answer is yes, nutrition plays a big role in how you perform on the pitch. It can also help with recovery following training and matches. And it can help you maintain the physical condition you're in. So one key area may be maintaining a low body fat percentage. The way I like to think about it is carbs are your fuel source, protein is for repairing your muscles and tissues, and then the other thing is hydration which is often a forgotten about part of nutrition. But it's important that you stay hydrated for both training and matches as that plays a big role in how fatigued you might get during the game and how you're going to perform."