Football Conditioning:
Traditional & Modern Approaches to Training

Joshua Smith (MSc., PGDip, BSc HONS)
High Performance Manager

ISSPF Article
Pep Guardiola soccer methodology

Based on the increased understanding and analysis of the game over the last few decades, combined with the high-speed nature of the game progressing more rapidly, the question continually asked is…. have we progressed our training preparation in line with the game & player demands or not? Do we fully prepare our players for the intensity of the game?

Players are now more educated on their tactical roles, physical & technical requirements which subsequently means coaches & individuals involved in the player development & performance perspective of the game need to continually enhance their skill set.

    Jurgen Klopp soccer methodology

    The use of football itself as a conditioning tool was previously believed to be unable to improve player fitness. It was this belief that saw the reliance on the use of generic training – this is where you see players performing non-specific running programs.

    Very often the first phase of a pre-season sees players running around a field, up and down a hill, or on the beach to improve their fitness. Whilst these may have value, the question that needs to be asked is, “Are we making the most of our limited time during pre-season to condition the players based on the coach’s style of play?”.

    Recent studies have found that small (3v3-4v4), medium (5v5-8v8) and large sided games (9v9-11v11) are able to replicate the physical, technical, and tactical demands of a competitive football game. This is important, as instead of using one training mode (running) to improve fitness for football, we can use football itself to improve the fitness of players, while also prepare them technically and tactically.


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    Table 1: Advantages & disadvantages between specific & generic conditioning (Reproduced from Little, 2009).

    There are several advantages and disadvantages to both forms of training (Table 1), but at the end of the day the Principle of Specificity reigns supreme – “The adaptation of the body or change in physical fitness is specific to the type of training undertaken.” Just think of it this way, are we training to run for 30-minutes round a sports track at one set pace, or are we training to compete in a sport that is dynamic and intermittent (stop-start) in nature?

    As with any training program, you need to follow the basics of a progressive overload – do not do too much too soon, slowly build the players up in a structured manner to avoid injuries and ensure proper player recovery.

    If you would like to know more about soccer specific physical training, take a look at the courses offered here


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    Linking coaching science principles from a physiological perspective with the tactical strategy of team sport preparation & training football is fundamental in order to maximise the performance of athletes or players. Use of current literature and research in these specific areas assist in individuals, coaches & performance practitioners making better, more educated and informed decisions to not only improve the performance, but also improve their efficiency in the coaching process & maintain the health & wellbeing of the players or athletes.

    “To be successful you need to reproduce results, not win, lose, win lose – I need performance stability not instability!” Jurgen Klopp

    The ISSPF Physical Training & Soccer Methodology online football coaching course is the perfect online sport science course to not only learn from world leaders in the football science & coaching area, but understanding the development & application within team sports, & enhance your role & guidance as a coach, practitioner, performance or medical staff member.


    The demand for sport science jobs & coaching specialists with a focus on football science is growing year upon year. Thousands of students are leaving university with a sport science degree, however many of them asking the key question – What now? How do I get a job in football? What’s the next step? How can I further develop my skill set? Which area of sport science do I want to specialise in?

    The bespoke courses developed by ISSPF Faculty members are a way of further exposing sport science students, coaching individuals working within the game & other soccer science & performance coaching enthusiasts with a thirst to develop further.

    The link below will take you to the hugely popular & expertly designed ISSPF endorsed, & accredited Physical Training & Soccer Methodology online sport science course, which has been described as one of the best online course for further developing & adding to football coaching qualifications, where you will be exposed to football science research and practical examples used within the game.


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    Why is this course important?

    • Provides most efficient training methods and detailed insights into developing player fitness alongside tactical strategies & developing a training methodology
    • Gain a better understanding how to maximise development & preparation of players in a more efficient & contemporary game model approach
    • Learn how to balance key training elements from a technical, tactical & physical preparation in order to attain peak performance
    • Practitioners & coaches can only benefit themselves & their players further by a more in-depth knowledge of physical training & soccer methodology
    • Help maximise your decision making through a better understanding & appreciation of tapering & soccer periodisation

    Who is this course for?

    • Coaches, trainers, and other serious individuals tasked with the responsibility for the training, preparation, rehabilitation & coaching aspects of both individual athletes or team sports
    • Individuals with an interest in developing knowledge in the preparation, training & development of footballers or soccer players



    Outline of the Physical Training & Soccer Methodology course:

    Module 1: The appliance of science – tapering & periodisation in team sports 
    Lecturer: Dr. Adam Owen

    Module 2: Soccer specific monitoring: Weekly microcycle, planning and performance 
    Lecturer: Dr. Dawid Golinski

    Module 3: Game model building & development: Reinterpreting Tactical Periodisation 
    Lecturer: Alejandro Romero-Caballero

    Module 4: Individualised Periodization in a Soccer Team: A working model
    Lecturer: Jarred Marsh

    Module 5: An integrated approach to soccer training: Developing a working model
    Lecturer: Efthymios Kyprianou

    Module 6: Carbohydrate requirements of soccer players: Implications for periodisation
    Lecturer: Dr. Liam Anderson

    Module 7: Integrating Physical & Tactical Periodisation in Soccer: Senior & Youth levels
    Lecturer: Hamish Munro

    Module 8: Maximal intensity conditioning periods in soccer: Physical vs. Tactical strategies
    Lecturer: Dr. Miguel Angel Campos Vazquez

    Module 9: Preparing the modern soccer player: Training session design
    Lecturer: Dr. Adam Owen

    Module 10: Competitive soccer training microcycle: Structure & justification 
    Lecturer: Dr. Manuel Segovia




    ·         What are the four pillars of soccer?

    ·         What is a soccer coaching methodology?

    ·         What is the best soccer training?

    ·         What is a game model in soccer?

    ·         What type of physical fitness is soccer?

    ·         What type of training do soccer players do?

    ·         How do you train for soccer fitness?

    ·         What are the physical demands of soccer?


    All these frequently asked questions will be answered & further information provided within our ISSPF online physical training & soccer methodology courses – we look forward to seeing you there!