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Sep 2011
11:30 Comments (6)
Stamina training in a football team

Professional Football

Paco de Miguel


Performance in collective disciplines is very different from what occurs in individual disciplines. In team sports is really complex to design plans and workout routines to improve analytically the sport man biological-functional system. This is certainly the approach that any coach should have before to make the planning. In a discipline where the continuous interaction of variables is present at all times, is not possible separately stimulate cognitive components with fitness or coordinative ones. Almost all tasks have to be planned taking into account the internal logic of the game.

The search for collective performance must be programmed from a broad knowledge and analysis of the sport. This planning has to satisfy the energy demands and overall performance. The program must have the highest number of overall training structures that are sufficient to ensure an adequate adaptation, through continuous improvement of the greater number of potential training components. You need to plan tasks with multi-objective.

The development of the methodology of endurance training without the knowledge of the interaction of all the components that affect a football team planning, would not be valid. It’s important to locate the specific development of stamina in a global planning.


According to Bangsbo J (1994) during a football game the contribution of aerobic energy is 90% of total energy supply. Despite this, still anaerobic energy production playing an important role during football games. During periods of high intensity in the game phosphocreatine and less ATP is used, both compounds resynthesized in the respective periods of recovery. Blood lactate average values ​​are between 3 and 9 mM / l, exceeding often 10mM / l in some game periods. The amount of ammonia and uric acid in blood is high during the game. It appears that the main energy substrate is muscle glycogen, thus being the most important. Similarly triglycerides, free fatty acids and glucose are also used for oxidative metabolism of muscle.

According to Ekblom B (1986) during a football game average intensity is about 80% of VO2 max, and according to Reilly T (1997) is about 75% of VO2 max.

Heart rate average during a game is around 85% of the MHR, but will depend on the age of players, with variations ranging from 80 to 95% MHR. Lactic acid is between 3 and 12 mM / l, although it is noted that the measures are always taken during breaks or at the end of games, but never in competition. The energy contribution of the aerobic endurance in a game is around 70-80% of the total.Caloric expenditure is consensus among various researchers between 4000 and 6000kJ for a player of 70 kg body weight (Casajús JA 2004).

In the laboratory, the anaerobic threshold of professional football players in the Spanish League, has been set at 83% maximum aerobic speed, 91% of maximum heart rate and 79% of maximal oxygen consumption (Casajús JA 2001).

Run intensity distribution in a football game differ little from one author to another, but the one usedby Zubillaga A (2006) is the most reliable, in my opinion, because it uses latest technology to measure and has a big data base in which he has analyzed many games for many years. Players on average cover about 11196 meters, of which 77.2% are walking, 17.5% in fast run and 5.3% in sprint, making a 22.8% in high intensity.

It has been shown that heart rate is a valid and reliable indicator of intensity (Hoff et al 2002, Esposito F et al 2004) specially in some game situations, like driving, dribbling and playing in small side games (Hoff et al 2002), but honestly is not the best because it control cardiovascular stress but not mechanic load, which in my point of view, the most important intensity marker. We can control mechanic load using a GPS system provided by accelerometer, but also we have to care about heart rate, specially for some stamina tasks.

The generic-interval method and specific-interval method in small side games are equally effective to improve stamina in youth soccer players (Impellizzeri et al 2006).

The development of specific stamina workout in a ball context is an effective substitute for the generic stamina workout as a method for improving aerobic stamina in soccer players (Little T et al 2006).

According to McMillan K et al (2005) specific training for 4 minutes at 90-95% of MHR through dribbling drills, plus a jog recovery period of 3 minutes at 70% of MHR, coupled with the rest of the weekly soccer training is effective to improve maximal oxygen consumption without interfering negatively in strength, jumping ability and sprinting. Similarly specific intervallic aerobic workouts like this one, increase the distance of meters recovered, increased work intensity, number of sprints and ball skills during the game (Helgerud J et al 2001).

Dupont et al (2004) saw that making a high-intensity interval training of 12-15 repetitions of 15 seconds duration at 120% of VAM alternated with 15 seconds recovery, along with 12-15 40-meter sprints with 30 seconds recovery, improved the VAM considerably during a season.

To summarize we can say that football is an acyclic sport that requires simultaneous participation of aerobic and anaerobic system. The aerobic system ensures game continuity and the anaerobic system must ensure continuity of high-intensity efforts (sprints, jumps, accelerations, decelerations, etc).

The average heart rate during a game is between 80 and 90% of MHR. VO2max is around 60 ml / kg / min (T Reilly 1986, Ekblom B,1997, Tumilty D 1993) on average.

The generic and specific interval training, those which are developed taking into account the internal logic of the game and those who are generic in response to specific loads (out of a ball context), both are valid and successful methods to enhance soccer-specific stamina (FM Impellizzeri et al 2006, Little et al 2006, McMillan K 2003).

The supply of continuous aerobic and anaerobic energy during football games is quite important to perform multiple sprints or high intensity efforts (around 6 seconds). The resynthesis of ATP is limited due to the high intensity of the game and the short recovery period. It is true that this initial resynthesis of ATP is covered by anaerobic sources (phosphocreatine degradation and glycolysis) with a slight contribution (± 10%) of aerobic metabolism.

During recovery VO2 remained elevated to restore homeostasis via processes such as the filling of the stores of oxygen in muscle tissue, phosphocreatine resynthesis, lactate metabolism, and elimination of inorganic phosphate accumulated intracellularly.

If recovery periods are relatively short VO2 remains high before next sprint and aerobic contribution to ATP resynthesis increases (M Glaister 2005).

That is why it is relatively important to provide the aerobic metabolism of the role they need to contribute to the ability to resist maximum intensity and short duration efforts. However it hasbeen shown that VO2 max is not correlated in time with the improvement in sprint time of 40 meters, although there is a moderate correlation with the total time, ie the sum of several repetitions (Aziz AR et al 2000), thereby strengthening the theory that increasing stamina level will help to perform repeated sprints.


The heart rate fluctuates in a game between 150-180 bpm and therefore using the standard values ​​of HRM (maximum heart rate) of player average age is 190 bpm, working below 142 bpm did not usually occur and this concept of aerobic efficiency (intensities less than 75% MHR) has little role.


Duration of effort: from 6 to 30 minutes.
Intensity: 75 to 90% of MHR / 75 to 85% of VAM / +2 mM/l to 4 mM/l


Duration of effort: from 3 to 6 minutes.
Intensity: 90 to 100% of MHR / 85 to 115% of VAM / +4 mM/l to 8 mM/l


Duration of effort: from 40 seconds to 2 minutes.
Intensity: 100% of MHR / 105 to 120% of VAM / 7 mM/l to 9 mM/l


Duration of effort: from 20 to 40 seconds.
Intensity: 100% of MHR / +120% of VAM / +10 mM/l

The type of stamina training at any time depends on two basic factors:

1. Player position: The position of each player on the field is crucial to meet the requirements of specific stamina training. Each demarcation request different energy demands.

2. Game style: It is one of the most important factors for the development of specific stamina. Not all the teams use the same style of play and every coach should prepare their players based on what they will need to perform properly. The needs of a team that plays continuously pressing are not the same ones that a team which is dropped and trying to play

What type of training will have priority? At the beginning all of them are important. Training normally with the ball we are improving always the stamina in different ways but but sometimes we must strengthen them with specific training out of a ball context.

Based on the principle of globalism, stamina training in soccer players is based on a high percentage in the soccer specific development tasks raised within technical-tactical exercises. Also it is important to know in any times which are the necessities for each player as individual.


Soccer system competition is responsible for setting the periodization. The performance results of a football team are analyzed at the end of the season, so the periodization has a yearly basis.

Training methodology in football today is aimed at increasing the level of team performance from the whole and high integrity of the factors and elements that are part of the competition and which are considered likely to improve.

According to Mombaerts E (1996), the coach must train the technical and tactical skills and physical and psychological qualities under the sign of integration and not the sum, leading to a comprehensive and integrated training where they acquire a multidimensional scale each variable of the training can benefit from planning in a short and long term.

Given that periodization is what you are trying to locate the contents of the training time(a full season), these must be previously well-defined and structured. Not all contents are likely to be periodized, since they depend largely on the need to useat any given time. That need is a reality that training plan precludes further in advance to 1-2 weeks. This is the key to understanding the elementary and basic unit that builds on the annual periodization are microcycles. There is a clear indeterminacy of content beyond one or two weeks of training, but in most cases the limit is fixed in a week.

On the other hand, the needs of the team coming from performance analysis after their last games becomes in ideas and contents to be incorporated immediately. That immediacy is what prevents planning longer in football.

Therefore the technical and tactical content cannot be periodizated within the competitive period, except in preseason where technical-tactical contents construction is more predictable and also there is not excess of games.

We can say that approximately we can do 80% of the stamina tasks in a ball context, but still we need to practise another 20% without it. In my opinion we can improve aerobic power playing small side games, is more specific if the players perform these exercises in high intensity, that means the players will have the ability to get fast energy in a short time, but as we know, if we need to keep this high intensity or medium intensity longer we still need aerobic production (aerobic capacity). How can we improve this aerobic capacity? One the methods to do it is improving the anaerobic threshold. To do that inevitably because is an individual threshold we have to use analytic run, working each player in their respective intensity. Can we make compatible this run with another football fitness needs? Of course we can, in my point of view is quite important as a part of the concurrent training in football. Obviously it is important to adequate timing for these activities during practise and also be sure that everything we do in a training session is done according the main target that we have for it and not hinder the other tasks.

The best way to manage and deal with this is try to control everything we do with the ball and add the complement that in our opinion each player needs at any time. For that reason not all the tasks will be practise for all the players together and we can plan them in a general basis and make some changes looking for improve each individual player.


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07/09/11 at 22:20:15 #1
Awesome, very knowledgable and well written.
Thanks for sharing.
08/09/11 at 01:47:56 #2
Tom Hunter
A very insightful piece of writing, thank you Paco for taking the time to write this. I found this blog to be particularly interesting, reltaing what i have learnt in the last few years while studying A-Level Physical Education to a footballing context.
08/09/11 at 20:28:45 #3
Greetings Paco, great in depth article! As a matter of interest are there "rest/recovery" days where HR & LACTATE is purposely kept low (& monitored to ensure so)? To help bodies "absorb" higher level training,and support anabolic effect of training.
Surely all this high intensity training has a certain limit? Endurance athletes know they can only maintain a peak for 8-10 WEEKS. Hence the need for ROTATION of players ( & need for strong SQUAD!).The very same policy RAFA was critized for but was essential in weeks of 3 GAMES!
08/09/11 at 21:40:15 #4
Jack Maddock
this is a real insight to the science behind football and was surprised by the fact that over three quarters of a football match is spent walking.
09/09/11 at 15:04:00 #5
Paco de Miguel
Our players always wear a heart rate monitor during training sessions. We try to clear away the most lactate possible straight after the game doing specific training for that. Always working in the individual range in function of each aerobic threshold.

09/09/11 at 15:05:09 #6
Paco de Miguel
Always there is a limit for aerobic power stamina, but for me is more important when do it. Select when you do high intensity aerobic training will provide a proper fitness adaptation to our players.