Salford City FC – How I think they could improve

Watching Class of ’92: Out of their league; one thing that stood out a mile, was how unhappy the players were.
Football appears to be the same from the professionals, down to the youth leagues – far too much shouting and aggressiveness.

How are people supposed to play with flair, creativity and passion, when their self confidence is being destroyed, they’re terrified of making mistakes, and they basically hate their manager?

Wellbeing is Key in Optimising Performance

Sport Psychology – Flow
Forgive the holistic, hippy bullshit, but if players aren’t happy, I don’t think you’re going to get the best out of them.
All the shouting increased stress levels and stress hormones.
All the running in training, and then 5  a side, is likely to lead to overtraining (depending on how training is periodised & what their nutritional strategies are), again increasing stress levels and hormones like cortisol; increased acidity levels etc.

sport psych

Hang Loose

Now I completely understand the reluctance of football players and managers to try new things, but…meditation or at least trying some interventions before training, to ‘get in the zone’, enhance focus and flow state.  The players’ anxiety levels are clearly through the roof creating a less than optimal physical and mental state.

There are various ways to decrease anxiety levels, and enhance performance, here are a few links:

Visualisation, breathing and even instrumental music all seem to be agreed upon methods for getting in an optimal mental state.  Getting a bollocking is not.

The half time team talks as well – there needs to be tactical and strategic coaching/feedback, with 1 or 2 at most things for each player to focus on.
Encouragement not a bollocking, in my opinion, should accompany this.

If you look at MMA, the best coaches give concise intruction, with encouragment, rarely do they give fighters a scolding – the last thing that they need is a telling off after taking a beating.
‘Hurt your groin George? – hit him with it!’

Many a football coach would no doubt have come out with some homophobic slur had a player dared complain about a twinge or injury.

They could also do with a session aimed at building team spirit. Ideally pre-season of course.
What are the goals that the team wants to pursue?
How do the athletes and coaches want to treat each other?
What kind of atmosphere do we want on your team?
What values do we want to act as the foundation for our team culture?
What attitudes and beliefs about your sport, competition, and team do you want to hold?
What are the outcome goals of the team, and what are the process goals?



Sports Nutrition – Recover
Nutrition is an often overlooked, but key factor when looking at athletes performance and their levels of ‘wellbeing’ in general.
Looking at the team’s training bibs, they appear to be sponsored by Kinetica Sports, a supplement company, renown for top quality products.   But have they got individual nutritional plans or general strategies & guidelines in place for the players year round?

Immune function, recovery and even mental wellbeing are directly related to gut bacteria.       There would ideally be something in place to make sure that players are consuming minimal amounts of sugar (produce unfavourable yeast etc in the gut), and some specific probiotic foods like kefir.  Players should also be consuming, on a daily basis, a range of electrolytes from foods such as Himalayan salt, and coconut water.

Recovery should be optimised by consuming the right foods (and drinks) before, during and after a game (high GI carbohdydrates, sports drinks with sodium, protein post training and game) and by optimising the omega 3/6 ratio in the diet and consuming natural anti-inflammatories like tumeric.

I could write all day; well for a few hours, about sports nutrition, but in terms of wellbeing, vitamin D, omega 3 and gut flora are all key; especially for athletes.  If athletes are not consuming nutritionally dense foods like kale and spinach, they will not recover between games and training sessions either; again reducing levels or wellbeing.

Strength & Conditioning – Train Hard – then more recovery
Didn’t really get to see much on the programme, however, the steady-state running and then 5 a side – I can see the merit in doing both of these, but if this is all they do during the season, they might feel a bit ‘stale’ and not be performing to their best. Maybe they have got everything covered from this angle, I don’t know but here’s my 2p…

I’m not going to go into this too much, as it’s far too subjective and everyone always disagrees on the merits of Olympic Lifting & plyometrics just for starters.  However to enhance recovery, most would agree that foam rolling and even yoga (tell them Giggsy) are not only effective, but necessary for longevity in pretty much any sport.  Then there’s trigger point therapy.  Again important for wellbeing, as it’s crap feeling stiff and sore all the time.

Incidentally, there’s loads of research suggesting that sauna’s a fantastic for enhancing recovery, boosting immunity and creating a sense of well being.

Also, heat – in terms of core and muscle temperature are crucial in terms of performance. There are countless numbers of studies showing that a higher muscle temperature enables higher power output.  Players ideally should have a mild ‘sweat-on’ by the start of the game. Obviously dehydration needs to be offset by optimising gastric-emptying by consuming 500ml of a saline-glucose solution 90 minutes before a match. It is also vital to keep warm at half time.

Obviously different sports, but having played football for a couple of decades and dabbled with MMA, the differences in ‘warm ups’ are drastic.

Catch up football.  Stop mentally beating up your players; and be a bit more open minded with the approach.  You could even consider employing Wim Hof if things get really bad:

Wim hof Love

ice man wim hof vice

I like to see players at all levels enjoy and play football, but I appreciate that’s just my uneducated spectator’s point of view.

As coaches, look at the risk-to-benefit ratio of adopting and trying new methods and techniques. It might not be worth the risk of injury – getting players to do overhead snatches for example, but pre-season team building sessions are worth a go.

My book on Football Nutrition
My about me page

About Drew

MMA, Fitness & Marketing enthusiast from North Wales, UK. A Stoic Hippy with no hair. Not to boast but - 1st Class Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough, MSc in Nutrition from the University of Liverpool. 20 years experience of weight & fitness training.
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