How great footballers train

Another fitness inspiration post for you all today!


If you read this site regularly, you’ll probably have noticed I’ve been writing a lot about fitness and football recently. That’s because I’m on a bit of a workout bender myself, and I think it’s something that’s exciting to learn about even if you’re permanently consigned to being an amateur goalie like me.


Something that’s been really cool for me to read about is the kind of training younger players are doing these days, which is miles beyond what I was doing in 6th form. According to a Guardian piece I read the other day, one benchmark that’s set in Dutch football academies is that players should make contact with a ball at least 10,000 times a day. That’s insane! They work on endless repetitions of the same movement patterns, instead of just working out, which is what we used to do.

It definitely makes sense that these new training techniques make better players. I think a lot of us went through until college working as hard as anyone else but without the coordination or finesse that you actually needed to be good at the game. A lot of people who study things like different training techniques between England and Europe say that it’s probably conservative to get to 10,000 contacts a day, and that the way we plan our practices and training sessions around coaching isn’t really the point. It’s all about repetition, so it doesn’t really matter if a coach is there at all, since muscle memory is all internal. The great players are great because they have muscle memory that’s so fast that it’s the same thing to make a pass as it is to shift slightly to one side to avoid bumping shoulders on the tube. It’s all second nature to them.


Anyway, I know me and most of you are all past the days when we’re going to make 10,000 contacts in a day. But, I’m taking it as a point of inspiration this week, because I think it makes sense that if you do the same thing enough times, it becomes body memory. One writer who was talking about this was Malcolm Gladwell, who was saying that football as a skill requires a bare minimum of 10,000 practice hours to learn. It’s no wonder that less and less of us are making the League these days.


Point is, I’ve decided to be inspired by the 10K number, and try to get to 10,000 calories burned a week. I’ve got a long way to go, but I like ambitious goals. I encourage you all to join me on your treadmill or out on the streets running. You don’t have to go too crazy, though. The key to any fitness routine is consistency, according to researchers. They actually day that training multiple times a day can be unhelpful in certain cases. If you’re going to try and do more than one thing in a day, make sure they’re very different activities, like running and yoga, and things with different goals, like strength vs. flexibility.

Writen by Alan Johnson