The relationship between fitness and the development of football skills will be one of the topics examined at a UEFA seminar in Istanbul this week.
Fitness for Football is the theme of the second pilot seminar to take place on the subject, following a successful inaugural meeting in Oslo in the spring. The event is being staged under UEFA's coach education programme, and brings together European coach education leaders, as well as fitness and medical experts, for a comprehensive examination of how football training and fitness training can be linked for players' maximum benefit.
UEFA understands that specialist coaches are becoming increasingly important to football. The UEFA Jira Panel, a group of eminent technicians who monitor coaching and coach education developments, has studied the issue of fitness specialists with the UEFA member associations and found that concepts vary greatly from association to association.
In response to feedback from Europe's national associations, UEFA will highlight the latest developments in this area, and raise awareness of correct facets of balanced football-specific fitness training – geared to achieve peak performance and support injury prevention. The participants will take part in group discussions, mini-workshops and brainstorming sessions to debate the various aspects of fitness and football.
The seminar promotes dialogue between coach educators and fitness experts, and is designed to help the associations introduce relevant fitness elements at various coach education levels. The event will ask how fitness training can be united with skills and teamwork training, and to what extent football activities can address physical needs.
UEFA's national member associations asked to receive more support on specialist coaching aspects, such as goalkeeping, futsal and fitness. One thing that became clear in the consultation process was the gap between national associations as regards the meaning of fitness – and that there was a considerable number of fitness experts without knowledge specific to football. UEFA's wish is to create a clear, football-specific message, and also to stimulate the associations on how they can integrate fitness topics within their coach education programme.
A major discussion point is that alongside the development of skills and teamwork, players must be fit enough to maintain their skills and teamwork in regular matches over an entire season. This requires football-specific fitness training that is part of the players' overall training process. The demands put on players in a game need to be known, along with what happens to their bodies while they are doing it.
Subjects such as desired football speed and football endurance, in contrast to general running speed and endurance, are part of the general discussion about football and fitness – together with specific football mobility training and appropriate strength training to protect against injuries.
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