Essay on Critically Analyse Training Methods Used in Your Sport e.g. Interval vs. Steady State

Published: 2021/12/01
Number of words: 2082

Throughout this report I critically analyse a plethora of training methods in football and examine why endurance training is a vital component on any training plan for any football player. Stamina is a vital facet of any footballer’s abilities as they have to be able to competently perform for 90 minutes. Riley (1996) observes that in conventional English soccer, the distance covered per game varies according to the position a player is in. This necessitates footballers requiring specific physiology needs to suit their position.This is exemplified by a study conducted by Riley and Thomas (1976, figure 13.1, p. 373) which illustrated the distance covered by outfield players per game categorised by their position. They found that midfielders run 10,000 metres a game on average, strikers cover 8,500 metres, fullbacks 8,400 metres and defenders covered approximately 8,200 metres per game. They concluded that a player in any position needs to possess high levels of V02 max in order to perform at the optimum level in training and matches.

Riley (1996) also established that there is a high correlation between aerobic power (VOmax) and distance covered per game which underpins the philosophy of adopting training regimes that facilitate the development of the respiratory system in transporting oxygen (Thomas and Riley, 1976, p. 374). This seems to infer that endurance training is conducive to increasing the distance a footballer is able to cover per game, which may be a considerable amount.

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Van Gool, Van Gerven and Boutmans (1995, as cited in Riley, 1997) undertook a study on VO2 max and footballers and ascertained that players normally exercised at a rate of approximately 75% of their VO2 max. This coincides with marathon runners who also ran at about 75% of their VO2 max capacity (Riley, 1997). This gives an indication of the levels of VO2 max needed for an athlete to sustain their performance levels. Interestingly, midfield players use the same rate of VOmax as long distance runners when they are playing football, which suggests that they are a vital component of a football team.

Further eminent investigations demonstrated that football players who completed 8 to 12 weeks of aerobic high-intensity running training (>85% HR max) experienced an increase in their VO2 max between 5% to 11%, with an enhanced running economy of 3% to 7% (Iaia, Rampinini and Bangsbo, 2009).

Recent research conjectures that success in youth soccer may be associated with good aerobic endurance performance (Vaeyens et al., 2006). Subsequently, it may be pertinent to assess the aerobic endurance performance of youth soccer players continuously as this has applications in monitoring their fitness and the effectiveness of physical conditioning programmes, and facilitates long term planning of such programmes.

A steady state training program may increase athlete’s aerobic endurance. Denadai et al. (2005, p. 364) construe maximal lactate steady state as “the highest exercise intensity at which there is a balance between the rate of lactate appearance in the blood and its rate of removal.” When applying this to the aerobic endurance of soccer players, a modality of training which could be used is running at a consistent pace on a treadmill, whilst continuously increasing the speed in steady increments.

Denadai et al. (2005) argue that there are disadvantages with using this approach as it constitutes the replication of 4-6 series of constant-intensity exercise bouts.
Denadai et al. (2005) also tried to ascertain if there is a relationship between steady state and critical velocity, which is defined as the highest exercise intensity that can be maintained during a prolonged period of exercise without exhaustion. Denadai et al.’s (2005) study constituted of twelve male professional elite soccer players who volunteered to take part of their own volition. All the players involved had been competing at a national level at the time of the study. They were in the middle of their season and had training sessions at least 4 days a week as well as a competitive match every weekend. The subjects completed a total of 8 sessions: an initial incremental treadmill test to determine the onset of blood lactate accumulation and 7 subsequent sessions to determine their maximal lactate steady state and critical velocity. The latter sessions were performed in a random order and were completed on separate days within a 2-week period (Denadai et al., 2005, p. 366). The researchers concluded that there was no significant difference between onset of blood lactate accumulation and maximal lactate steady state or onset of blood lactate accumulation and critical velocity. Conversely, the critical velocity was significantly higher than the maximal lactate steady state.

Steady state endurance is a training program which is abundantly used by sport coaches, as it increases the athlete’s stamina. (XXX) is a proponent of improving steady state training by ingesting carbohydrates (CHO) before and during prolonged steady-state exercise as it can drastically improve the endurance capacity (time to exhaustion) of an adolescent.

Although steady state is valid for the prescription of high intensity aerobic training, Denadai et al. (2005, p. 366) point out that maximal lactate steady state requires the subject to perform 4-5 exercise bouts of 30-minute duration, preferably on separate days. This procedure is time consuming and can interfere with the training schedule of the athlete. Although it is a viable method for a soccer player to increase their VO2 max endurance, it may be impractical to fit into an athlete, whereas a high intensity interval training scheme could be a quicker way of improving an athlete’s aerobic endurance.

Bangsbo (1994) stated that the intermittent nature of athletes on a football pitch induces a change in speed roughly every 6 seconds. This suggests that high interval training will be more appropriate for footballers as they will not be at a constant speed for 90 minutes, instead they go through various fluctuations of speed.

High intensity interval training is the most renowned method of developing endurance training in soccer. Seiler and Tønnessen (2009) suggest that method is given credence by numerous fitness experts and scientists who argue definitively that high-intensity interval work is the only form of training necessary for performance optimisation.

Aziz et al. (2000) found that maximal oxygen uptake (VOmax) and performance in a series of 8 x 40 m sprints were inversely proportional. In a longitudinal study on high interval training, Helgerud et al. (2001) determined that high-intensity aerobic training increased VOmax and an athlete’s lactate threshold. Furthermore, there was an increase in the amount of distance the player had covered (20%), the number of sprints (100%) and number of interactions with the ball (24%) during the match. This seems to indicate that high interval training increases the holistic performance of a footballer. However, a more detailed analysis of other facets of a footballer’s performance, such as the ability to retain possession, may be required to establish a more reliable assessment of high-intensity training’s merits.

It could be argued that steady state training and high intensity training have a symbiotic relationship in increasing a footballer’s performance- they are more effective when used simultaneously, rather than individually. Seiler and Tønnessen (2009) state that empirical evidence seems to suggest that both short, intense training bouts and longer, continuous exercise sessions constitute part of an effective endurance training regime. They also suggest that assimilating large volumes of low-intensity training with periodic high-intensity work is a model of best practice and the optimum manner to develop an athlete’s endurance.

Small sided games could also be useful in improving endurance, primarily because of their high intensity. Rampinini et al. (2007) state that the tactics of a team depend on the players’ ability to co-operate in a certain sector of the pitch with their team-mates. Therefore, match specific training exercises usually include the simulation of a match in a proportionately smaller dimensions and players. These particular exercises are known as small-sided games.

Rampinini et al. (2007) make the distinction between games with a larger number of players being used for tactical and technical improvement, whereas games with less players mainly have the function of improving a player’s endurance.

Capranica et al. (2001) also state that, due to the smaller pitch and the less number of participants in small-sided games, each player has more touches with the ball and encounter game situations more often, which will has the additional benefit of enhancing a player’s technical expertise in skills such as running without the ball, marking and cooperation with other players.

Platt et al. (2001) c examined the type and frequency of the various skills utilised during small-sided games involving young players. Their findings suggested that young players had more opportunities to demonstrate their proficiencies in three-a-side games than matches where there were 5 players on each team. This suggests that a mixture of small-side games should be incorporated into a training program rather than focusing on a single modality.

Katis and Kellis (2009) performed a study on thirty-four amateur professionals who had a minimum of five years of training experience. The objective of the investigation was to examine, first, the movement actions performed during two different small-sided games and, second, their effect on a multitude of field endurance and technical tests. The heart rate results from the study imply that the young players participating in both small-sided games worked at high levels of intensity (Katis and Kellis, 2009, p. 378). During the 3 aside games, the players displayed higher exercise rates compared with a six-a-side game situation, which suggests that the 3 aside games will improve the athletes VO2 max better. Furthermore, the results also demonstrated that the number of short passes, kicks, tackles, dribbles and scoring goals were significantly higher during the three-a-side compared with the six-aside game while players performed more long passes and headed the ball more often during the six-a-side. This again seems to consolidate the underlying theory that smaller sided games are more adept at increasing a footballer’s technical acumen than games with more players. In both exercise, overt alterations in the throw-in and the horizontal jump performance were observed (p < 0.05).

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The results of the study suggest that three-a-side games provide more opportunities for physical conditioning and technical improvement than six-a-side games. In a coaching context, it may be more pertinent to use three-a-side games to improve the fitness and technique of young soccer players.

This essay has clearly demonstrated that aerobic endurance is a vital asset for an athlete to employ during a competitive football game. After carefully disseminating various training methods, using small sided games is an approach that has numerous benefits, as it not only benefited the players aerobic endurance but also bettered them technically and tactically, by putting them in a realistic game situation.


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Wong, P.-L., Chaouchi A., Castanaga, C., Lau, P., Charmari, K., and Wisloff, U. (2011) ‘Validity of the Yo-Yo intermittent endurance test in young soccer.’ European Journal of Sport Science, pp. 309-315.

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