Date: 24th March 2008 at 10:13am
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Professional Footballers and ‘Player Fatigue’

Player Fatigue is a topic which has not been far from the lips of our manager since the beginning of the season, when it was recognised that we had one of the smallest squads in the premiership. BUT, and there is always a ‘but,’ that is the one thing I really do not understand; this concept of player fatigue among the team.

These men are professional athletes who have nothing else to do all day except train to reach the peak of physical fitness and to hone their footballing skills to a level far beyond that of the common man.

Well, I think that is the idea, isn’t it? If they can not reach a level of physical fitness whereby they are unable to play one game of football a week without getting tired then one must surely question either the training regime or the discipline/control about what they get up to in their leisure time.

I surely do not need to spell out the leisure activities to which I am referring. I am sure all adults reading this piece will know precisely what I mean. As a young man I was involved in athletics, rugby and gymnastics as well as enjoying a good social life, and after work I went off and trained and practiced for these sports in the evenings, not for as long as I wanted or needed to, to get myself fit. I could run for 90 minutes without getting tired and I was a sprinter, and could physically recover within 24 hours of a hard game of rugby played at senior club level, no problem.

So what is with this player fatigue? Am I missing something significant? Because, if I am, will somebody please tell me. There can only be three explanations that I can think of that would cause this fatigue.

The first is that to which I have already referred, namely, their social activities are undoing all the good work that their training has done for them. In my view that is possible but not probable as their ‘social activities’ would have to be on a really profligate scale to cause that effect.

The second has, again, been referred to above, which is a training regime that does not achieve the degree of physical fitness required to allow someone to play a game of football as the intensity and with the demands of the premiership and recover in, let’s say, three days. This is more likely than the first option, I would think, although if some of the tabloid newspapers are to be believed some footballers try hard to achieve that situation.

The third option is really a rather strange one. If the first two are not appropriate then I can only conclude that professional footballers have a significantly different physiological and mental make up from the rest of humanity.Is there something in their physical make up that prevents them from becoming fit enough to play full out for 90 minutes? They look the same as us; they seem to come in all shapes and sizes and, if we accept that the training regime is right, I can only conclude that the problem must be a mental one.

If footballers can become so fatigued two thirds of the way through a season of about 45 games, then there is a significant problem. All that is required is that they concentrate fully for, say, two hours a week, but let’s be generous and say two sessions of two hours a week and they get tired? And don’t forget these very same players have some of the best training facilities in the UK, unlike the old BAI (Birmingham Athletic Institute) for example. Plus, that is what they are training for during the other six days of the week when they are not actually playing a game of football.

We common workers however, have to concentrate for 8 -10 hours a day five days a week for a mere pittance compared to these footballers. They have it sooo easy if they only recognised it. Please no more about this player fatigue nonsense, for our sakes just go out there on Saturday, play out of your skins for 90 minutes and win.

That is what they should be training to do both physically and mentally.


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