Physical preparation/development of young players
It is impossible in modern football to play at the top level without great athletic abilities. Creating a solid athletic foundation on which to build has now become increasingly important from the age of 12-14. This long-term athletic preparation has to be gradual, taking into account players’ stage of physical and mental development and their performance potential.
FC Red Star New Zealand Academy priority for pre-training stage is developing Speed, Agility and Co-ordination. However, it is also important to systematically work on General Endurance, Strength and Flexibility.
High intensity work on Anaerobic Power, Plyometric training (jump training) and muscle building exercises using loads are not done at academy with players younger than 15-16.
When working on physical condition, the ball is used as much as possible, since developing technical/tactical abilities remains the primary objective for this age group.
General endurance (aerobic capacity) is the foundation of all endurance qualities and it will to a large extent determine a player’s performance capacity. It allows a player not just to cover the distance but also to recover quicker during the game and therefore unable him execute technical skills. Endurance also has a very beneficial effect on overall health and is important for prevention of injury.
FC Red Star NZ Academy is working on developing general endurance only through games and exercises with the ball as separated physical training is not required for young football players.
Speed is a decisive factor in modern football and is best trained at a very early age, between 9 and 13,
Developing Reaction time, Starting Speed (first strides), Acceleration, Speed of Execution (with and without the ball) and Feet Speed are the high priorities for this age group. Speed training is combined with Agility and Co-ordination work, using separated and integrated training methods.
Endurance speed (the capacity to maintain maximum speed over a long distance) is avoid at pre-training stage.
Strength, Power and Muscular Endurance
Strength is one of the essential elements in today’s game as it has great influence on speed, agility, duel play, shooting, jumping, injury prevention, self-confidence etc.
The pre-training stage is ideal for developing overall strength. Good muscle balance, developing the posture muscles (upper body) and ankle strength is especially important for this age group.
Muscle strengthening work is done using players own body weight only as their locomotive apparatus (skeletal structure, cartilage, tendons and ligaments) is still fragile.
To ensure good muscle balance, strength training is always based on developing both agonist and antagonist muscles
The ability to change the direction accurately while moving quickly with or without the ball is vital for football. It not only has a performance enhancement component but it can make a huge contribution to injury prevention.
Agility is practiced together with speed and co-ordination. It can also be improved greatly by developing technical abilities and strength.
Co-ordination (Psycho-motor Skills)
Co-ordination (Orientation, Reaction, Balance, Differentiation and Rhythm) is a fundamental requirement for the execution of technical skills.
Nowadays, co-ordination training is necessary to make up for the lack of natural physical activity in children and the disappearance of street football. It is especially essential during the growth spurt (11 – 14 years) as co-ordination will suffer as a result of limbs growing longer.
Flexibility of the hip adductor and flexor muscles, the ankles and the knees are extremely important for injury prevention. In addition, flexibility of the spine ensures good bodily balance, better mobility of the torso and also aids the proper functioning of the neuromuscular system.
As stretching alone is not sufficient to improve flexibility it is supplemented with dynamic suppleness training (mobility and flexibility work).