Preparation for finals football: A relaxing guide for coaches and players

It’s coming up to finals football and players need to be in prime physical and mental condition ready to tackle the most important part of the season: winning the league!  Ideally training throughout the week should be focused around three objectives; resting, recovery sessions from injuries and low to mid intense tactical drills.  If you made it this far, you must be ready for the thrill of season finals.  

Coaches and players are both responsible for the team being in mint condition towards the back end of the season. Preparation for the championship games shouldn’t start the Monday before the play offs, the lead up for finals preparation plans should be designed at least a month out from the last game of the season.  

After light training sessions throughout the week it’s important for trainers to motivate and have the team ready to switch to the high intensity championship game. This is not easy, whilst players have in their minds of rest and relaxation by the time weekends games come around they ultimately need to flick the switch and move into fifth gear quickly, this is never easy and a slow start to games can cost teams dearly. A great tip that coaches implemented before kick-off was to have their final team talk completed well before the warm up and then have all players run through 20 – 40 - 60 metre drills at 70% rate for 25 minutes. The team are red faced, sweaty, breathing heavily but most importantly feeling warm and ready to take on the opponent at a million miles an hour. Our 2nd wind had already kicked in before we got onto the pitch, players are hungry to start and ready to take the game to the opposition! The team’s recovery and light training sessions would be far from their minds and the only focus was on controlling the game for the first fifteen minutes.

Coaches may find it hard to keep training sessions at full intensity, trainers have the idea that all training sessions throughout the season that players should be put through agonising 80 metre sprint drills for 45 minutes after a quick warm up and stretch. Players then go hell for leather with the sprints until they can hardly stand, players are given a five-minute breather and spray of water and put back into the strenuous, fast paced, end to end game day attacking and defending tactics training. At this point players’ minds are exhausted and bodies fatigued before another short and final warm down and stretch. Teams leave the training pitch feeling they have conquered the intensity needed for game day…………This is a disaster in the making!

Teams need to allow a couple days’ rest after match day, experts suggest 48 hours after competition games, fast twitch players need to leave more time for recovery and focus the week on resting the body, stretching and analysing the game plan. This low to mid intense training session will prevent further injury to players and have them at their peak for game day.

Coaches may see players finish games slow and sluggish, they may feel the team are unfit or lazy. To combat slow starts or poor finishes, they over intensify training session working on players speed and agility, leaving no time for rest and recovery. Players have trained hard all season and should be at their peak performance constantly training 90 to 95% at high intense level all season long, coaches need to take a different approach to training where rejuvenating and nurturing the player’s vitality leading into championship games will bring success after a full week of rest each player will be fired up and ready to give 90 minutes of everything they have in the tank.