Thoughts on Charlie Francis and soccer

Originally Posted by mighty
I would be interested to read detailed case studies into the injury history of Owen Hargreaves (Man Utd), Louis Saha (Everton), Ledley King (Tottenham) and Micheal Owen (Newcastle Untied), including all attempts at rehabilitation, physcial preparation and the Physios’ opinion on the matter.

I have very recently had the chance to personally work with one of the aforementioned players.

From the information I collected,due to his extensive injury history,the player does not do any additional training,the matches themselves being his only mean of training,supported in the days in between by extensive recovery and regeneration sessions.
This routine has mananaged to keep him at his top level football performances,and part of top and National Teams,but it never never allowed him to stay injury free.

I thought it could fit here as a further stimulus for thought and discussion.

Do you know of any of the training done in the off-season for the player in question or any of the top players/teams?

I know for a fact many Premier league players supplement all sorts of crap to enhance performance. There also constantly enhancing pulls, strains, tears etc also.

Kieron Dyer was a fan of creatine, nuff said. Masses of extensive injury history.

None for the player mentioned above.Only some pool and plenty of recovery and regeneration work with physios.
More or different than that seemingly only makes managing the player’s career even more troublesome.
I am posting this here as it may represent an extreme case,and for this very reason should induce some thinking and discussion.

When Charlie was in Florence last year,he made one point very clear to a few professionals involved in different areas of world top soccer:the main stimulus is and will always remain the game itself,and everything else,from tactics,to training,to recovery and regeneration and even rehab and prehab sould be carefully planned around that single stimulus.
Especially when a team plays 50 to 75 90+ minutes games over a 10 months time span,and some players are called upon to play and win another 7 games to the World Cup victory right after that.
Off Season for them is a ten to fifteen days well deserved vacation!

Ledley King.

Shouldn’t be a footballer really IMO.

I assume the goalkeeper would have to follow a different program, as fitness cannot be derived from game play alone. It should involve explosive work (could be weights, plyos, short speed). In addition, a low intensity, high volume aerobic component would help to maintain circulatory processes that will keep the goalkeeper warm throughout the match (much like a baseball pitcher) or American football kicker.

Not really,as the entity of the general stimulus provided by the match would still be the single most important factor.

Nor I am sure if the comparison with the baseball pitcher or the AF kicker really applies other than for the descriptive purposes above.

Nevertheless I would agree that most principles of CFTS are more easily applied in a structured training for a goalkeeper,and I have myself seen at least one top european goalkeeper being trained intuitively by means and principles Charlie himself shared and agreed upon,and being very successful in his career with this kind of training.

I still find it hard to believe that a goalkeeper could be stimulated enough by game play to “improve” the qualities required by the higher end activities of their game. That would be one busy goalkeeper.

If you examined everything they did - in games and in practice - perhaps the workload (particularly through repetitive goalkeeper drills) could be enough to improve explosive qualities. It may not be necessary to include weight training and general explosive training (plyos, med-ball) in their overall plan if the volume and intensity of work in drills was appropriate.

However, I would think that many goalkeepers could benefit greatly from work in the weight room - even in season. This may not be done presently, but does not mean that it shouldn’t or couldn’t be done optimally.

A baseball pitcher would be busier throughout a game, but would have significantly greater recovery between games. The American football kicker (if they punted and place-kicked) may also be busier, combined with any running they had to do during special teams play.

That made me laugh … if you think how badly the rest of the team are trained often those very goalkeepers are that busy!

Back strain picking ball out of the net usually!

I honestly had no idea that some of these leagues play 10 months out of a year.

A very limited training opportunity combined with a very long season, no wonder the injury rates are so high. Even the fittest athletes would find it challenging to remain healthy under such conditions.

Are all the top level seasons that long?

Yes,as of my knowledge.
Your words:“A very limited training opportunity combined with a very long season” describe the outmost reality of all top level teams in Europe,both for players,coaching,and medical staff’s.

My whole point being: every small desired improvement comes as a response of combined stimuli.For that improvement to take place the complex nature of the main stimulus has to be given attention first and foremost,and that is always the one provided game after game.
All other training has to be balanced against that if improvement and performance are seeked.
And in the case of the Goalkeeper…no one else can do his job,while on the field!

I’m guessing NumberTwo is making a point about the relative number of activities a goalkeeper would make in the course of a 90 minute game.

That is, how many shots on goal, how many blocks, etc. is he having to make in terms of actually providing a stimulus beyond standing around. And is that alone sufficient to train him to do what he needs to do.

Exactly. Depending on who you are playing, weather conditions, and the issues Lyle identified, you could have a very inactive game or a very active one. And this difference in activity can be profoundly more pronounced than on any other position on the field (i.e. standing around a lot, versus jumping around all game). No one is arguing against the fact that the specific stimulus provided by the game is the most important. However, if you are not getting enough exposure to that stimulus, detraining will occur. This could even be argued for an ice-hockey goalkeeper - even though the playing environment is much smaller.

Other training elements - although component parts of the whole - can be altered in volume to make up for any short-comings of game play.

I make these game-by-game alterations for all of the sports I work with. My in-season training plans will reflect what qualities are being worked or not being worked throughout the course of the competitive season, thereby optimizing their preparedness for the end of the season for post-season play.

For a goalkeeper, you could easily monitor their explosive qualities with a simple vertical jump test throughout the season. Very little cost to the athlete, but a good measure of explosiveness (that could also be used to monitor their recovery).

Here is a question - what do the top goalkeepers do for training? Do they lift weights? Do they perform significant aerobic training? Do they do jump training? Or, are they simply sticking to game specific drills and game play?

Perhaps the top keepers only stick to the game specific work. Does this make it correct? Could they be optimizing their training? It goes back to the same old question of:

  • Are the top players in sports simply so talented, that training outside of the game can be very general and infrequent - because their skill is so much more important?


  • Could the top players even be better if they were following an optimized training plan that included all of the critical training elements (including recovery and regeneration work)?

Just as a side note… A friend of mine was working with one of the top baseball players in Major League Baseball. This player was injured when he came to him. He didn’t actually follow a training regime in previous off-seasons. But he was still one of the top players. The simple fact that this player actually engaged in a training plan eliminated the injury issue and has allowed him to be even better this season. This is not an isolated case, particularly in skill-intensive sports.

A basketball analogy would be say, Kobe Bryant versus Alan Iverson. I met Kobe’s trainer when Charlie and I did a seminar back in LA in 2003. Kobe trained hard. Iverson didn’t train.

for a sound discussion of training means and aims we have to start from what they are paid for, no?
So, 10 months is a fact. Leagues stop in early or late May and new seasons (GPP) start in early-mid july (this is general, in Russia and Germany it is different and it is also dependent on national and international cups).
We cannot have a meaningful discussion if we ignore this simple facts. In earlier posts I wrote that too many people ignore the reality.

This is true - however, where we have to be careful is how the training methods for these pros can trickle down to the lower development levels and take hold. In fact, it may be taking hold already.

We have a problem in Canada with athletes spending too much time on the field, without developing other qualities. Of course, we have other problems with development of soccer players in this country, but I only have a limited number of characters I can type in this box.

I will give some general answers.

It is interesting that the forward Adriano just got with his new team (Roma), with a belly more appropriate for the Oktober Fest. I think he is around 110 kg. You know what? Given the bad shape and weight, they moved from a 1 a day session to 2 a day sessions. Now, do you consider that appropriate? Do any of those brilliant people thought about 1) making him eat a lot less and putting the booze away from the table and then 2) increase the workload. Are they stupid, ignorant or what?

N2, keep in mind that at least in soccer, the greatest players (not good, not so and so, great) spent hours and hours and hours again when they were child (and therefore more plastic) in simply playing the game, in backyards, fields and so on (read their biographies, no one is saying that max strenght training was responsible for their greatness, it was some divine intervention or those hours on the field). They were not, pass me the metaphor, built in the lab.
So, what are the traits of great players, how did they develop their skills?
It is clear that there is room for improvement and there are a lot of good players who would be positively influenced by more sound training plans.

So, my post here has to be put in the right context (I’m all in favour of sound training plans and development of athletic abilities, periodization, long-term development), but at the same time success leaves clues.