Thoughts on Charlie Francis and soccer

Recently Charlie francis said this:

1: That there is NO Special Endurance in Soccer- just short bursts and plenty of aerobic fitness.
2: Middle ground, non-specific work interferes with the ability to carry out high quality speed work and low speed aerobic work.
3: Lactic capacity is obtained through the Special Endurance itself.

I’ve seen the damage done by programs filled with intermediate non-specific lactate work. I’ve seen the proof, base on Omega wave research and, in Vancouver we were shown that the damage to long-term aerobic capacity is permanent.

BY his above comments is he suggesting to only to Tempo work of say 75% max Speed. and then only speed work, with no work of say 20-25 seconds efforts over 150 yards.

Just want to get everyones thoughts on what they think of his comments if you all would do middle ground work etc.

“No special endurance” yet “Lactic capacity is obtained through the Special Endurance itself.” Brilliance or contradiction? Let’s see…

A couple of thoughts because I am trigger happy and I will return with a little intelligence:

  1. I would rather go to coaches who have a history of working with soccer teams for information on soccer conditioning.
  2. Since most coaches suggest special endurance for every sport (anyone heard of the word science) I say someone mentioning “no special endurance” is going for shock value; look-at-me type of value.
  3. I will not under any current circumstances cease running shuttles of 20 seconds or more. By the way, we do more than one drill.
  4. While lactate training is certainly an objective, running with 100% effort and 100% speed is about summoning effiort under fatigued conditions. This also lets the athlete know his limitations as in “I can pick it up NOW!”
  5. Speed work is different than effort work.
  6. No middle ground work in a match; no middle ground work in training.
  7. Keep working on the catch thing, Carl.
    Bob Alejo

The conept of SE in soccer has been completely bastardised and abused to death, and I think the use of the CFTS template makes a little more sense than flogging guys to death with shuttles and endurnace 400’s.

Charlie SE is used in Soccer by definition - so how is it catered for by your training?

Let’s deal with Bob Alejo’s comments one by one.
1: He prefers to go with the status quo because anyone who points out a contradiction must be shouting “Look at me!”
I am (as you might imagine!) at a disadvantage in discussing who I work with and in what sport. Alejo is free to take credit for Gail Devers (Bobby Kersee might want to have a word with him on that one) and Kevin Young (ditto for John Smith)
2: He refers to “science” to explain why “everyone” uses Special Endurance whether the circumstances call for it or not. I made the obvious point (to most everyone else) that the soccer prep time is very short relative to the season and therefore must concentrate on speed and power, while maintaining aerobic condition. Any special endurance needs that ARE in the game will be well served by game play over the very long season and will not be lost in the short off-season.
3: He will not under any circumstances cease to do 100% runs of 20sec or more despite what one can easily see by reviewing game tapes following individual players.
I think it’s pretty obvious that he has no intention of changing anything!
5: Speed work is different from effort work. No shit! AND they are mutually exclusive. Now the question is: Why impair speed in the off-season?
4:Which brings us back to Special endurance work during the only opportunity during the whole year to expand speed reserve. (No need to explain the value of speed reserve to this forum and no point trying to explain it to Alejo)
6: His valid observation here contradicts all the rest of his rant.

The biggest problem I have seen with soccer players is that none of the ones I have worked with other than premiership level are very fit.

I have a girl who plays soccer and she kills her opposition on the field. She lacks skill but can run up and down and up and down all game. She can only run 12.0, 24.8 and 55s but she is light years ahead of the other players on her team many of whome are on one of the best teams in europe. If they had her level of conditioning they would be significantly better. Problem is she has all year to do track and then plays soccer for fun on the university team, whereas they don’t have the luxury and just play games for the three or whatever it is teams they play for on a regular basis.

I’ve seen the damage done by programs filled with intermediate non-specific lactate work. I’ve seen the proof, base on Omega wave research and, in Vancouver we were shown that the damage to long-term aerobic capacity is permanent.
Can someone expand on what this research was?

I’m talking about professional teams with many games and long seasons.

The heart wall thickens prematurely, limiting stroke vol for the future

While lactate training is certainly an objective, running with 100% effort and 100% speed is about summoning effiort under fatigued conditions. This also lets the athlete know his limitations as in “I can pick it up NOW!”
This is a good point. The real “power” of lactic work is building mental toughness. 400m runners are some of the toughests pain merchants around.

However, you can also build mental toughness other ways. Try 15min continuous abb circuits or 45min med ball work, none of which produce much lactic but all of which build “character”. Furthermore, the confience of knowing you can outrun any player on the field if you really have to is a nice bonus that comes with being competant at sprinting.

The entire point of high/low training. Nobody suggested it was easy work!
The reverse is also true. Because of actual demands of soccer, the transfer to track is often successful. For example Pavoni finishing second in the 100m at the European champs the first year he left soccer as a junior. BUT he had a brutal time adjusting to the SE demands from his training with Mennea.

Sorry my post is perhaps confusing. These girls play professionally (at least they did until the finances were pulled and now they are semi pro again). My girl plays on the same team as them at Uni for the championships but does track the rest of the year. Because she doesn’t train her skills she has more time left to get conditioned and as a result can kick thier ass conditioning wise on the field. They use her as a rabbit to just run after the ball and pressurise people on the other team. 80% of the rest of the team play for 3 teams (international, national team, university/academy) and all have much lower conditioning but higher levels of skill.

What was the evidence? Xray or MRI or something? I thought it was something to do with omegawave?

OW testing shows this. The tests were on a top US distance group where the monitoring was allowed but the info provided was not acted upon.

Now to the training done by the soccer girls vs your girl. What were the differences and what would you have done differently if you had the opportunity?

Then this could be said for strength work too, because it was shown that strength training increase the heart mass/volume by increasing the thickness of the myocard wall, while “aerobic” exercise increase the volume of the heart by increasing the ventricular volume and maintaining same myocard thickness…
Sorry but we need a proof on this one Charlie…

Altought the season is very long for soccer players and Bangsbo showed that aerobic power is increased while playing games over the duration of the season, I am not actually so sure in “get in shape by playing soccer” concept - you must be in shape since day one of the in-season (first game).

Question 1:
SE runs in soccer may actually happen when you r team steal a ball and go into an attack, then opponents steal a ball and then they go into counter attack. Imagene yourself being a middlefielder or left/righ back player in this situation…

Altought speed and power (after technical/tactical skill) are the number one requirement for soccer, along with aerobic power/capacity, there is ‘some’ SE requirement. Will this capacity be gained by playing ‘duel games’ (2on2 with man on man marking for 20-40secs ---- pretty ‘puke stimulating’ game) or some other kind’a training is required ala 120m shuttles (but no more) along with it?
Why does everything have to be black or white? The truth is a matter of a degree…

Also, my opinion is that a lot of coaches perform SE work because they are SCARED and INSECURE about the shape/preparedness of their players, thus they must make them ‘puke’ to gain the confidence they made them prepared…?

Question 2:
Will performing 120-300m shuttles (as a ‘effort’ work NOT SE work per se) prepare you to play last couple of minutes of the game by simulating the ‘effort’ and ‘mental thoughness’, or will greatly developed aerobic power and general work capacity limit fatigue experience during the last couple of minutes and thus negate the need for ‘menatl thougness’ in the first place?

This one reminds me about one discussion one our proffesor had with one foreign soccer expert at one seminar. That foreign expert stated that bLA in soccer are around 6-8 (guessing, gotta check), and our proffesor argued about being more, around 12-18mmol/l and thus the need for ‘lactate tolerance’ work in soccer training. This foreing expert tryed to explain this ‘fool’ that this large bLA levels they measured are NOT because the nature of the game, but rather because poor preparation of the tested athletes in aerobic power…

Great thread so far! Hope Charlie will remain motivated to answer our dumb questions :slight_smile:

Who is Bob Alejo?

I don’t see your point about strength work (because it happens one way, we should go ahead and hasten it with another??).
You discuss aerobic fitness and then suggest that you need it in place when the season starts. Who ever said it shouldn’t be?? We’re talking about the specific role of Special Endurance, which is not the same thing at all.
I can’t provide proof beyond referring you to OW in Eugene Oregon to ask if they can provide you with their findings. Val at OW also seemed to feel that the thickening was irreversible though I have heard a cardiologist suggest that this may not be the case. I couldn’t say either way.
Because Special Endurance MAY occur on occasion does not mean you should specifically prepare for it. There is a push/pull to every training choice and you prepare for the general experience of the game.
As I pointed out earlier (and elsewhere on the forum) speed reserve serves a significant role in handling the general pace of the game, including the occasional episode of SE, which will almost always be executed at a marginally sub-maximal pace. A higher absolute ability makes operating at sub-maximal intensity much easier.
Your final point about bla is a good one! Looking at "what is’ and enforcing more of the same at the expense of “what could be” is folly.

He recently joined the forum if I’m not mistaken so hopefully he will comment soon.


What type of weekly conditioning schedule would you use for a soccer team in the off season? Similar to the track schedule?

It depends on the length of the off-season, usually determined by the level of play. As a rule, the shorter the off season, the closer you stick to the left on the F/T curve of High Intensity Elements.
You can refer to the graph on the Vancouver DVD to see the relative time frames to maximize the various H.I. elements.
Aerobic fitness is very important so there is a higher vol of aerobic, low intensity work than there would be for the sprints or even the 400m.

What would you do to address the aerobic work? Tempo <75%?

My girl plays soccer from Oct-May and does track Oct-Sept with a month off.

During soccer season she does 1xspeed+weights a week, 1xjumps/throws/weights and maybe 1xSE if she isn’t playing a game that weekend.

So coming into the football season she has just had about 3 weeks off from the end of the track season duing which time she does soccer practice.

Here speed and power at the end of the Sept are usually maximal (we have a major championship in Sep) for the season so she carries these through to the beginning of the Soccer season having let the fatigue deminish.She does no offseason training other than skill work in the park simply because she is tired from the track season but is still in pretty good shape come October.

I don’t do any tempo with her because she does skill practice 3 times a week but she does all her conditoining with me.

From what I can tell the rest of the team start conditioning in August having had a break through July (many play 5/6 a side in June). They do the normal long runs and shuttles combined with skill work etc.

In terms of what I would do the first thing is to sit down with the coach and figure out a way to get a better ratio of training to playing. These girls have been playing since they were 6 so they have 15 years of skill work but thier physical literacy is probably about 2 years. My belief is that their skill level is already near its peak but increased speed and conditioning (without massive fatigue) would help them to be more efficient players.