Sports Science And Performance

What Is Sports Science

The focus of sport science is to improve the health and overall athletic performance of players, through the use of physiological, psychological and biomechanical principles. These principles can be implemented through the observation and monitoring of players, in order to provide performance- improving exercise and training programmes, which are tailored for each players’ specific needs.

There are a number of responsibilities the sport scientist has within the club:

Work in collaboration with the management team, sport therapist and video analyst. Liaise with coaching staff to maximise the effects of training.
Lead on the fitness testing of the squad and academy players to build up an accurate physiological profile.

Deliver best practice strength and conditioning coaching for all age groups in line with the clubs’ philosophies. Design and deliver off-field and pitch-based conditioning programmes tailored for differing needs of each age group and individuals within those teams.

Monitor and interpret individual and team training data whilst providing knowledgeable feedback to the coaching staff. Educate and advise the squad and coaches on recovery techniques, nutrition and hydration strategies. Demonstrate a willingness to further personal knowledge into all disciplines of sport science by keeping up to date with sport science research and to maintain an open and flexible stance, regarding “best sport science practice”.

Cefn Druids FC Training Model

The club will look to work on a 6-week training model, which has been developed for the periodisation of football. The model proposes of one session a week focusing on football specific conditioning. The model is split into 3 blocks of 2 weeks. Each block will focus on a different type of football specific fitness through the use of games.

The first block focuses on ‘11v11/8v8’ (Extensive Endurance Training) large sided games, the second block focuses on ‘7v7/5v5’ (Intensive Endurance Training) medium sided games and the third block focuses on ‘4v4/3v3’ (Extensive Interval Training) small sided games.

Each block will be accompanied by a fitness drill which will be performed prior to the designated size of game. The ‘11v11/8v8’ sessions will also include ‘explosivity preparation exercises’ which will consist of acceleration runs over a larger distance. This will help to ready the player for the demands of the large sided games.

The ‘7v7/5v5’ sessions will include ‘football sprints with minimum rest’ which will consist of repeated short sprints, to ready the player for the demands of the medium sided games. The ‘4v4/3v3’ sessions will include ‘football sprints with maximum rest’ which will ready the players for the demands of the small sided games.

This model is to ensure that football focuses fitness parameters are being covered and the two-week blocks are useful as they help to regulate training spikes and/or dips, due to the players being exposed to a similar training load. This over the course of the season will allow the players to gradually increase their fitness due to them working in a progressive overload training style.

Pre-Academy Phase

As stated in the club’s philosophy, players within this stage should have ‘good quick feet’ and ‘confident and comfortable on the ball’ these characteristics can be developed through the fundamental fitness components. Due to the age of the players it is unrealistic to send them into a gym-based session, therefore an adaptation to developing certain attributes needs to be made.

The more important fundamentals will consist of agility, coordination, balance, speed and endurance. Therefore, certain sessions should focus on developing these fundamentals in a fun and enjoyable manner, in order to promote the club’s philosophies further. Everything should be coordination and speed based, short sharp and fast using short rest periods. Teaching them the correct movement skills is essential as the older and better they become, they’re able to maintain a higher level of performance.

Fundamental Movements = Focus

Focused on multilateral development of athleticism
Teaching of fundamental movement skills
Orientated towards enjoyment
High emphasis on co-ordination/varied locomotor patterns
Basic nutritional advice
Develop athletic base through mixed activities/sport (Variety of sports will help improve overall athleticism)

Development

This phase is essential to players development as this is seen as the building blocks to ready the players to eventually cope with the demands of the first team. It is also important as it allows players which come into academy football at an older age, to learn the movements and fitness fundamentals they may have missed out on. As many of the player will begin to have growth spurts it is essential to ensure that they’re coordination, balance etc. is still at a high level.

This phase can be split into two; growth management and scholarship preparation.

Growth Management (12-14 years old)

Focus on managing growth, increasing intensity of training
Increased training time
Growth spurts occur which will require refinement of skills and techniques
High emphasis on neuromuscular control/proprioception (knowing where your limbs are to improve fundamental movements)
Strength training introduced, learning techniques over loading

Scholarship Preparation (15-16 years old)

Focus to ready players for scholarship

Gradual progression in overload training
Increased number of gym/injury prevention sessions (overall and individualised) High emphasis on football specific conditioning work.
Nutritional advice in maintaining peak performance in football

Elite Phase

Finally, the elite phase which will be 16+ years old
This phase will focus on the professional development and maintenance for the players. Professional development and maintenance

Full potential progressively achieved
Close monitoring to avoid overtraining using load monitoring techniques (HR, GPS etc.) Aerobic and anaerobic systems training for maximum output
Strength training maximised
Improved recovery from competition
Individual prehab

The above is a guideline as to how the Cefn Druids Football Academy aims to work in future and reach for that elusive Category One status.