Resting, looking after injuries and maintaining physical shape are all key to not lose all you have worked for during the season.
After 10 months of training and competition, summer also arrives for footballers and brings the holidays with it. Disconnection, enjoyment, rest, large meals… Footballers make the most of this time to do what they can’t throughout the rest of the year. This is logical and natural, but there has to be a limit because if the summer becomes a massive free bar, negative consequences can be dragged along over the course of the following season.
Physical trainers are all too familiar with problems caused by holidays that get out of hand. In fact, part of their job is to guide players during the summer, through personalized training plans that guarantee the right balance between rest and fitness maintenance. The vast majority of professionals in this sector agree in highlighting three fundamental objectives for any athlete during the holiday period:
After a long period of competition, it is very important to recharge your batteries during the pre-season. This consists in resetting the nervous system and forgetting the stress and psychological tension accumulated over the previous months. “You have to disconnect, eat differently, spend time with your family, go out with friends and have fun”, explains Víctor Salas, ex-professional footballer and current coach of the Andalusian U16 regional football team. “During the season the physical and mental requirements can be enormous. You have to make the most of summer to disconnect from everything, find peace and relieve that pressure”.
“We always encourage students from the Professional Program to do as they please during the first week of holidays,” says Moisés Falces, head of the Optimization of Physical Performance Department of Marcet. “It’s after the first week that you have to start doing some physical activity once more, but the initial disconnection is important to get the footballer motivated to start training again”..
2. Look after injuries
At the end of the season there are many players who notice discomfort in some area of their body. In these cases, the holidays offer a unique opportunity to regenerate damaged structures. In fact, summer is the perfect time to improve and perfect all those aspects that cannot be covered when competing for a short-term result.
It makes sense that when recuperating from an injury it is key to maximize the personalization of training programs. “Every player represents a whole different world and you have to take into account all their personal circumstances and history when planning their transitory period”, explains Lluís Sala, physical trainer and rehabilitator of Girona’s first team during the 2018-19 season.
“A personalized planning of the postseason is vital for tackling injuries, but it is also important to know where the footballers are going on holiday, for how long, if they will be able to go to a training centre…”. The more information physical trainers have, the more personalized the training program of footballers will be.
3. Maintain physical shape
Being on holiday should not signify forgetting physical shape and nutrition. “There are many footballers who lose their good habits during the summer, things they have maintained throughout the whole season”, mentions Sala. “They stop taking care of their nutrition, their training habits, their rest routines… This is fine for a few days, but as the preseason approaches it is a must to start training again”.
“From the second week onwards one must start with physical workouts and prevention of injury”, explains Falces. “A footballer cannot disconnect on a muscular level for such a long time. If they do, they run the risk of suffering discomfort in the pubis, overloading the hamstrings or abductors, decompensating the upper and lower train…”.
In order to not lose tonification it is also good to try different sports, such as cycling or swimming. “They are activities that involve another kind of motor scheme and stimuli that work in favour of the player”, adds Marcet’s physical trainer, who also recommends for Academy students to not distance themselves completely from football during summer, “They risk losing the coordination and structural mechanics they had assimilated before the break”. Given this possibility, a footballer can play a game with friends or sign up for a football camp just before the start of the preseason.
Lastly, maintaining physical shape also means to not let your eating get out of hand. “Adopting good nutritional habits is a determining factor”, assures Salas. “Excesses are paid for. If a player returns to business weighing four or five kilos more, they can drag the consequences with them for months because they can take four weeks to regain their weight and a further four to get back into shape. This would mean not starting the season in the first team and even throwing a whole sporting career out the window”.