Physical Preparation for Team Sports: Weekly Plans [Part 5]

Physical Preparation for Team Sports: Weekly Plans [Part 5]

Previus Part:

weekly-plans-4Physical Preparation for Team Sports: Weekly Plans [Part 4]

In this part I am continuing the discussion on football and non-football related content, especially the “right” time to develop certain quality, appropriate combination of qualities to avoid interference between them, the concept of micro-dosing, how to vary training (and the concept of saturation~variation), and the use of heuristics in uncertain world of sports planning and decision making.

What to do when?

In the recent years I started looking at the warm-up not as “separate” part of the workout that has it’s own objectives, but as something that CAN and SHOULD be done at that current state of the organism that helps you reach workout and training objectives, while preparing you for the work to come.

I guess that this can be expanded to other training components as well. When deciding on what can and should be done, we need to take into account the athletes current state and how they are receptive for a given stimuli. Potential problem here is that not all athletes are in the same state, but we still need to perform team sessions. Therefore the training design needs to take this into account by being flexible and agile. Since things can get very complex, the solution is not to have some crazy optimization algorithm, but to rely on simple strategies – heuristics. More on this topic (individual vs. team) in the future chapter.

On the following picture there are recommendations on when certain qualities can be DEVELOPED. All qualities can be PERFORMED pretty much all the time (sometimes that is even advisable, for example micro-dosing the speed work 1 on pretty much every day), but they cannot be truly developed every day due fatigue levels and injury likelihood (for example, you can make athlete do sprint on the D+2, but the quality of those sprints will be sub-par and the tissue capacity to handle loading would be compromised from the game, so the likelihood of injuring someone would be higher). So there exists optimal timing when we can really load them (i.e. do the hard session) and create developmental stimuli (as opposed to retaining/maintaining qualities). This is pretty much one of the aspects of develop/express complementary pair.


Figure 15. When to develop certain qualities

In team sports, due frequent competitions and uncertainty of athlete responses (and risk of injury), we usually never push the envelope (i.e. saturate) a given characteristic, which means that the below rules are more “weaker”, but it is still advisable to keep them in mind. So, one of the heuristics could be “Never over-dose individual characteristics – micro-dose everything” – this would be very conservative and robust strategy. To paraphrase Derek Hansen 1:

“you can still achieve significant benefits with micro-dosing, while minimizing the unwanted side-effects.”

“The key is to prescribe the right amount of work at the most optimal times to elicit a positive training response, but avoid placing too much stress on the athlete that can be compounded by the rigors of practice.”

In other words, from a risk perspective, it is advisable to avoid extremely hard and saturated training sessions. There are sessions where we create an overload on a given quality/characteristic (e.g. conditioning day), but that load is never extreme.

To quote Derek Hansen again 1:

“Once again, the volume of work is not so high as to create excessive fatigue, but high enough to elicit a desirable response.”

Micro-dosing concept is also useful approach when dealing with real-world coaches, who might not be very receptive to our “optimal days and loadings” to develop certain qualities. Hence, micro-dosing represents very robust strategy in uncertainty. Not biologically optimal, but very realistic that get’s the job done.

Micro-dosing can also be used with other qualities, like leg power and leg strength, for example using individually prescribed short (or should I say micro) training sessions for athletes to do on their own time (either before or after workouts), similar to individual prehab/injury prevention programs. For example, athletes can perform 1-2 compound lifts, where Dan John’s Rule of 10 2 can be applied when it comes to total number of reps. Consistency beats load. This type of work can be prescribed alongside with “true” team-based strength training session and aim in solving individual/team dichotomy.

Going back to the above diagram of optimal states to develop characteristics, I’ve also used Raymond Verheijen 3 objectives for soccer fitness.

Long story short, the simple heuristic would be “if you want to develop quality (or intensity, as opposed to quantity or extensibility/extensiveness) of certain characteristic or learn a new skills, then do it when athletes are “fresh”; if you already have quality in place, make athletes be able to express it in more strenuous conditions and extend that quality”.  Or, “If it is important, do it first, and often”.

The question to be asked is what is the time frame for such recommendations – is it a training session, training day, or micro-cycle? I believe that “fatigue” have multiple waves and the heuristic can be applied on different time scales – do the speed work and learn new movements early in the session, and early after the recovery mini-block.

But fatigue is only part of the story. We need to consider “facilitation” as well. For example, after a day off, athletes are not very “receptive” for learning new things and they need to warm-up their engines 3, so the first session should be more extensive to “wake” them up. This neuro-muscular readiness and receptiveness is needed every time we perform high-quality (i.e. high-intensity) training. For example, performing maximal sprints right off the bat, without the warm-up, even if the athletes are least tired, is not the wisest strategy since their systems are not ready. But we can perform running and control drills and help in increasing speed objective while preparing the athletes to perform the real thing (hence my rant on warm-up at the beginning). This can be extended to the micro-cycle as well, especially the loading mini-block, where the first day should never be “HARD” day, but again that depends on what precedes it.

Another usefulness of micro-dosing is …

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1 Hansen D. Micro-Dosing with Speed and Tempo Sessions for Performance Gains and Injury Prevention. Strength Power Speed. Published October 28, 2015. Accessed April 9, 2017.
2 John D. Interventions. Santa Cruz, California: On Target Publications; 2013.
3 Verheijen R. Football Periodisation. First Edition. Amsterdam: World Football Academy BV
4 Issurin VB. Block Periodization. Ultimate Athlete Concepts; 2008.
5 Issurin VB. Block Periodization 2: Fundamental Concepts and Training Design. Ultimate Athlete Concepts; 2008.
6 Issurin VB. Building the Modern Athlete: Scientific Advancements and Training Innovations. 1st ed. Ultimate Athlete Concepts; 2015.7 Brougham G. The Cynefin Mini-Book.


I am a physical preparation coach from Belgrade, Serbia, grow up in Pula, Croatia (which I consider my home town). I was involved in physical preparation of professional, amateur and recreational athletes of various ages in sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, martial arts and tennis. Read More »

Home Forums Physical Preparation for Team Sports: Weekly Plans [Part 5]

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Mladen Jovanovic 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • 09/05/2017 at 11:36 #19682

    Hello Mihailo and Mladen!

    With your recommendation, i rade before 2 years ago the book “Fitness in soccer”. Every month i’m doing a “re-read” and try to apply the principles with sync in other references.
    I saw that in chapter 16: “Macrocycle: Pre-season”, they refer to speed work only in week 7.
    I rade your great blog that his name is “8 Weeks Soccer Pre-Season Plan”, and i’ll glad to know what is your opinion about speed/power/agility and/or “SAQ” training in the pre season in soccer. How to combine this method and when to combine this training?
    My opinion is to combine it in week 3 or 4, and i wanna make sure with you and your opinion about it.

    Thank you a lot!


    13/05/2017 at 16:52 #19705

    Speedwork should be done as soon as possible and pretty much all the time. In the Part 5 of this article there is a link to Derek Hansen’s blog on “micro-loading” that is highly recommended.

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