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Blackburn Rovers’ Head of Athletic Performance, Chris Rush, tells you how to train every day of the week so you’re fighting fit on matchday…

MONDAY

The pro session

Muscle sorenesss normally peaks two days after a game. If we’ve played on a Saturday the players often come in feeling worse than they did the day on the Sunday. But it’s important that they start moving even if the training is very low in intensity. Prior to training the players will do yoga or mobility to work to restore some flexibility and then go out on to the pitch. Those who have played 90 minutes on Saturday will do approximately 30 minutes of ball work, doing drills that mimic actions they’ll do in a game.

The amateur session

It’s unlikely you’ll be training with your team-mates on a Monday, but you should get yourself to the gym. Start by jumping on a treadmill or bike and do some very low intensity cardio work for 10-15 minutes to raise your body temperature. Then try and copy what we do at professional level and do some flexibility work. There are plenty of 20-30 yoga and mobility routines on YouTube that you can follow on your mobile phone. Foam rolling and swimming are other good low intensity options that I’d recommend.

TUESDAY

The pro session

Tuesday is a high intensity day, with the session lasting for around 90 minutes. We warm up, then ask the players to do a flat out maximum sprint over 30, 40 and 50 metres to help prevent hamstring injuries. We’ll then go into some intense ball work, followed by a football conditioning period, which could be 5 v 5, 7 v 7, or 2 v 2. We’re not coaching during these smaller sided games, it’s hard work for a set duration at a really high intensity. We’ll then finish off with straight line running drills or a shooting drill with some intensity built into it.

The amateur session

If you train once or twice a week with your team, then these sessions need to top up your fitness between games. If an 11-a-side game is a 10/10 in terms of intensity then you need to be getting very close to that in training. The best way to do this is get out on the pitch and do straight line running drills. Four lots of four-minute runs at 75% of your maximum intensity, with two minutes rest in between each run, followed by six blasts of 20 second sprints with 40 seconds recovery between each run will really test your heart and lungs. You can do these on the treadmill as well.

WEDNESDAY

The pro rest day

We use a typical British periodisation schedule, which means Wednesday is a rest day. Saturday and Tuesday are our two hard days. Saturday is the game and Tuesday is the hard running session. Wednesday enables the players to recover before the final two days of the week which are more tactically focused. I always advise players to do some activity, I don’t believe sitting on your sofa and watching TV and not really moving will help you physically. Psychologically you need to recover but even just going for a walk will help. Most players say they feel sluggish on a Thursday if they’ve done nothing the previous day.

The amateur rest day

Make a judgement call on how hard the week has been up until that point. If you’ve been working all week then it’s probably not realistic to train every day. If you have a fairly active job then that will be enough activity on a rest day and will enable you to switch off and relax in the evening. Psychologically, it’s important that you switch off – it’s impossible to do absolutely everything when you have a full-time job, so put your feet up.

THURSDAY

The pro session

We put as much speed and sharpness into the players without fatiguing them. As we approach the game, we’re 48 hours before, you want to avoid doing too much volume with the players. We’re looking for short, explosive work that’s low in volume. An example would be a football specific speed and agility warm-up over 5-10 seconds with a minute and a half recovery as you walk back to your original position. The football practice will be designed like that as well. The manager will be doing more coaching so there will be more breaks, but the action will be fast and specific to the game.

The amateur session

Judge the training session. You won’t be looking at fitness and conditioning work, like four minute or two-minute blasts, but you should be doing short, explosive little drills. It might be something as simple as doing a five or 10 second shuttle run with a minute recovery in between. That will light up the speed and explosiveness within your body so you’re preparing your body for the movements of a game.

FRIDAY

The pro session

There are still preparation elements to Friday’s session. The principles of the Thursday session still apply on a Friday but we add more fun to it. We’ll do fun relay games with and without the ball. They’re competitive because if you lose there might be a forefeit, so they’re really sharp and explosive, but we’re using high rest periods. We’re just switching the mind and body on from a speed and competitiveness point of view. The manager likes the sessions to be lively and full of life so the players are in good spirits going into the game.

The amateur session

After a long week at work the chances are you won’t feel like another training session and 24 hours before your game it’s probably not necessary. The best thing you can do is to ensure you get sufficient sleep the night before your game and take onboard enough fluids and carbohydrates so you’re fully fuelled on matchday. Get an early night, avoid alcohol and you’ll be raring to go in the morning.

SATURDAY

The pro matchday

We get the players to come down at 9 am and have breakfast. Often we’ll do some sort of stretching and mobility work for 15 minutes after they’ve got up. At 11:45pm they’ll have their pre-match meal. Then the players will have a team meeting and go out for a warm-up at 2:20, which will last 25 minutes and involves slowly building up intensity and mirroring the actions the players will perform during the games.

The amateur matchday

Get the basics right and get to the ground early to allow yourself the time to have a thorough warm-up and get a feel for the pitch and surroundings. Don’t start kicking balls as soon as you pull your boots on. Start your warm-up with some light, straight line jogging before moving on to sprints of increasing intensity over short distances. Finish with some possession work and you’ll be ready for kick off. Your cool down should be a reverse of your warm-up, as you gradually slow the body down after 90 minutes of intense work.

SUNDAY

The pro rest day

Fatigue doesn’t tend to manifest itself in the body until the Monday. Players will often say they feel ok on a Sunday but it’s 48 hours after a game that they will feel most sore. This is the delayed affect of fatigue. On a Sunday, if they’re at home, we again encourage them to do some form of light exercise. There will be lots of waste products in the muscles after 90 minutes, which need to be removed and a good way to start that process is through gentle exercise which gets blood flowing to the muscles. A brisk walk or even a trip to the shops will help.

The amateur rest day

The way you spend your Sunday should mirror your approach to a Wednesday. If you feel tired after your game the easy option is to sit on the sofa and do nothing but you’ll reap the benefits of a light walk or jog. To aid the recovery of your muscles and refuel ahead of your next training session, continue to eat large amounts of carbohydrates and protein, as well as lots of water. If you can follow this routine every week, you’ll boost your fitness and recover faster between games.

Chris Rush - Head Of Athletic Performance Blackburn FC
Written By

Chris Rush - Head Of Athletic Performance Blackburn FC

Head of Athletic Performance, Blackburn FC