About the Curriculum

The concept of rotating through pre-determined themes, which serves us well in the Skill Acquisition and Game Training phases, will not apply now. However, the basic structure of the ideal training session is almost identical to those in the Game Training phase:

  • Welcome/explanation: 5 minutes
  • Warm Up: 15-20 minutes
  • Positioning Games: 20 minutes
  • Game Training component: 25-30 minutes
  • Training Game: 20-25 minutes
  • Warm Down/wrap up 5-10 minutes

The differences are:

The session themes are based largely on recent match performance, with a view to improvement in the next match.

  • This requires from a coach the ability to properly analyse a game, define the ‘football problems’ and design sessions to improve the team’s ability to solve these football problems. 

  • The Training Game can now be used as a Football Conditioning game.Football Conditioning Games are part of the Football Periodisation Model, developed by exercise physiologist Raymond Verheijen, which has been adopted by FFA.

The Football Periodisation Model is based on the principle that it’s totally possible to get your players fit for playing football by playing football. This aligns perfectly with our vision that a holistic approach to coaching is not only the most educationally effective way but also the most time effective way. If done in the proper way, football training automatically becomes conditioning and therefore it’s unnecessary and unwise to separate fitness training from football training.

In the Football Periodisation Model there are three types of conditioning games:

  • The big games (8 v 8 or 9 v 9 or 10 v 10 or 11 v 11)
  • The medium games (5 v 5 or 6 v 6 or 7 v 7)
  • The small games (3 v 3 or 4 v 4)

Put simply, if these games are conducted in the right way, they develop the qualities of aerobic capacity and aerobic power specific to football players. However, a real understanding of this conditioning method, including football sprints, can only be gained by attending FFA’s Advanced Coaching Courses.

Training focus in the performance phase

The Performance Phase starts when the puberty phase has ended and the growth spurt has come to a standstill. Generally this happens around the age of 16, but differs from individual to individual and, as stated before, girls generally reach this point earlier than boys.

Girls and boys diverge in their physical abilities as they enter puberty and move through adolescence. Higher levels of the hormone Testosterone allow boys to add muscle and even without much effort on their part, get stronger. In turn, they become less flexible.

Girls, as their levels of the hormone Estrogen increase, tend to add fat rather than muscle. They must train rigorously to get significantly stronger. Estrogen also makes girls’ ligaments lax which makes them more flexible than boys but also more prone to certain injuries such as ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) rupture.

Core Stability strength training is therefore an important training element in the Performance phase, especially for girls. However, it’s unnecessary to do that in a gym since Core Stability programs can perfectly be done on the pitch as part of the warm-up. This way we avoid losing valuable football training time.

At this stage of development, the young adults are ready for high performance training. Coordination is back, the mental balance has been restored and the energy systems of the body are now effectively ‘trainable’.

This is the moment that football-specific conditioning can start. At an earlier age so-called ‘conditioning’ is mostly pointless and generally a waste of time (or even dangerous if conducted inexpertly).

This is also the moment that winning really starts to matter. That’s why the purpose of the Performance Phase is:

Learning how to perform/win as a team

So in the Performance Phase, the coach is very much focused on getting results. Training, therefore, is centred on fixing specific problems with the team’s tactical performance.

Training cycles/frequency

Regarding the 6-week cycles in the Performance Phase the following points are essential:

The session with the Football Conditioning Games must always be planned for the beginning of the week to avoid players still being fatigued on the day of the next game

We consider 4 sessions of 75-90 minutes and one game a maximum safe weekly workload for the Performance Phase (Advanced level only)

The planning and progression of the Football Conditioning Games requires expert knowledge of the Football Periodisation Model. It is dangerous to experiment with Football Conditioning without having the necessary knowledge

To give coaches a basic grasp of the concepts, we provide three sample Performance Phase sessions, based on hypothetical ‘football problems’ that a team might have. Each sample session shows how the Training Game can be changed to a Conditioning Game (one ‘big’, one ‘medium’ and one ‘small’ game), gaining a football fitness benefit while still working on the team’s ‘football problem’.

To view the sessions for the Performance phase please click HERE.

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