When we were planning how to prepare our players to a level that they will be able to run more than 10 km in 90 minutes we underline some questions at the beginning:
- Is it possible to make the »suffering« training interesting?
- How to prepare soccer players in a specific way, that means with movements and elements that are part of the game of soccer? Cycling or swimming will develop aerobic endurance but not in the same precise manner that running or changing directions with the ball will.
- How to develop technique and endurance at the same time?
- How to organize the interval training with the ball that will allow personalized loads?
On this questions, we will try to answer with the scientific way of thinking and to present some practical drills for your practice. New exercises will be named on the author Iztok Kavčič, who defined protocols, distances and number of players to assure improvement on aerobic power (VO2max) with ball exercises.
Iztok Kavčič: “I tried to implement elements of dynamic technique when the main goal of training is endurance improvement. To make training more interesting, more complex and to do technique and endurance together. The three main variables to consider when designing a training plan for players are frequency—the number of times you train per week, duration—how long each training lasts, and intensity—how fast you go. The hard part to figure out is the intensity component. Everybody knows that simply training very hard every day will lead to overtraining and burnout. Finding the right protocol and organization is crucial. Without high technology like GPS system the players with this method will run with optimal velocities to improve on aerobic power and will not accumulate lactate, meaning they will stay fresh and not fatigue too much.”
THE SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND OF KAVCIC’S ENDURANCE TRAINING METHOD
The French Doctor Dr. Veronique Billat, a professor of Sports Sciences at the University of Lille in France, has researched various interval training methodologies to optimize VO2max training. She has produced some simple protocols and demonstrated improvements of three to six percent in elite athletes with only four weeks of training. While three to six percent may not seem like a lot to you, for an elite this represents a huge improvement. And if an elite runner can improve that much, what about the rest of us? “Carrying out excellent training is not hard to do,” says Billat. “You simply have to have reliable reference points around to structure your workouts.” Billat has shown that these reference points are your velocity at VO2max (vVO2max) and how long you can ride at VO2max velocity (tlimVO2max).
One of the best predictors of running performance is a variable that puts VO2max and economy together: namely, a velocity at VO2max — or vVO2max — which is the slowest sustained running pace at which a runner reaches maximum oxygen consumption. For example, suppose that during testing it is discovered that your VO2max is 55 liters per minute per kg of body weight. If this rate of oxygen consumption is first achieved at a running velocity of 16 km/h and shows no increase at higher running speeds, then your vVO2 max is 16 km/h.
BILLAT’S 30-30 WORKOUT:
Several years ago, Billat set a goal of trying to create workout formats that would allow runners to spend the greatest total amount of time at VO2max and would therefore presumably produce the most powerful boosting effect on VO2max and economy. Billat deduced that runners seeking to maximize workout time spent at VO2max should run at vVO2max and no faster because they would fatigue more quickly at faster speeds. Remember, vVO2 max represents the slowest running pace at which VO2 max is reached. Her next move was a stroke of genius. Billat knew that a runner’s rate of oxygen consumption remains at or near 100 percent VO2 max for as long as 15-20 seconds after he or she stops running at vVO2 max, or slows down from this pace. Billat realized that a well-designed workout could exploit this lag phenomenon to allow runners to further increase time spent at VO2 max.
The workout format she settled on was highly unorthodox, consisting of 30-second bursts at vVO2 max separated by 30-second floats and repeated to failure (that is, until vVO2 max can no longer be sustained for 30 seconds). A group of moderately fit runners increased their VO2 max by 10 percent (that’s huge) in just 8-10 weeks when they added twice weekly 30-30 sessions to their training.
The only question is, how do you determine your vVO2 max? The only sure way is to perform a graded exercise test in a laboratory environment. But you can get a close approximation simply by running a 6-minute time trial on a track. Divide the total distance you run in 6 minutes by 12 to get the distance covered per 30 seconds. Suppose you run 1,720 meters in your 6-minute time trial. One 12th of this distance is 143 meters. This is roughly how far you should run your hard 30-second intervals in your 30-30 workouts and the velocity for VO2max (vVO2max) is reached.
RUNNING INTERVALS AT vVO2max INSIDE EXERCISES FOR DYNAMIC TECHNIQUE
An important challenge for Feel-Coaching.eu Team represented how to implement this scientific approach for endurance development into exercises for a dynamic technique to make »suffering« training more interesting for football/soccer players. To develop effective exercises that allow players to improve on technique and endurance at the same time. Exercises that will make our training even more rational and effective. What we have to do? In few steps, we will present the logical approach how to develop exercises on Billats scientific background that provide endurance and technique improvement.
STEP N.1: make a 6-minute Billat test to get the covered distance. Divide the total distance you run in 6 minutes by 12 to get the distance covered per 30 seconds which define your velocity of running – vVO2max in m/s (meters per second)
STEP N.2: define the intervals of running and resting during dynamic technique exercise – we choose 10/10 intervals
STEP N.3: define the distances to cover in 10 seconds for your players (10 second X vVO2max)
STEP N.4: choose the optimal number of players, technical elements and distances that will allow the 10-10 protocol of resting and running
If you take a look on the first drill for endurance with the dynamic technique you will see that we divide the players into 3 groups because we have 3 different distances to cover after the technical elements. For example, we will present 3 different players/colors, how we defined the distances to ensure the right velocity (vVO2max) in this interesting ball exercises:
- Player n1: covered distance in the test 1600, vVO2max = 4,44 m/s * 10 sec = 44 m
- Player n2: covered distance in the test 1740, vVO2max = 4,83 m/s * 10 sec = 48 m
- Player n3: covered distance in the test 1800, vVO2max = 5,00 m/s * 10 sec = 50 m
With this calculations, we will reach optimal velocities to perform with at VO2max and no faster because they would fatigue more quickly at faster speeds. Remember, vVO2 max represents the slowest running pace at which VO2 max is reached. The interesting fact is that the intensity is enough high for endurance improvement and at the same time prevent lactate accumulation in muscles and blood.
When designing a training plan or preparation period an important variable to consider is frequency—the number of times you train per week, especially when we talk about physical/conditioning training. In our Feel-Coaching practice, we usually design endurance training twice a week in the preparation period and once a week during competition period to maintain the level of players stamina. We try to combine interval training without the ball like Billat’s 30-30 protocols and exercises with the ball like dynamic technique exercises and special small sided games for endurance.
The number of repetitions in Billat’s 30-30 interval training program varies from 12 to 20 depends if we do only Billat’s 30-30 protocol or if we combine the endurance training with ball exercises. The number and duration of dynamic technique exercises are also important when we combine runnings without the ball (30-30) and runnings with passing drills.
Success in sport goes beyond training hard. Often, it is the attention to detail and doing the little things that can be the difference between players and teams. Proper nutrition, getting enough rest, a smart training plan are all things that are commonly known to benefit performance. Many studies, including Billats’, have shown interval training produces greater fitness benefits than the continuous running of laps. Many coaches know that football/soccer players like work with the ball and running without the ball represents »mental suffering«. So we try to combine both benefits with interval running and ball exercises which football players like to train especially if we include elements like double passes, dribblings and shooting on goals. We have presented how is possible to develop new exercises for dynamic technique and endurance improvement at the same time. Many repetitions and correct execution of technical part will provide that players will improve on technique. Proper velocity (vVO2max) and intervals during exercise will provide that the players will run at VO2max and will not accumulate lactate during such training. This is very important to not overtrain our players and stay fresh during preparation and competition period.