Tom Little: Three ways to stay 'football fit' during shutdown

Little (right) has been with Preston since June 2014

Little (right) has been with Preston since June 2014

PRESTON Head of Performance Tom Little says his players are focusing on three key elements to maintain ‘football fitness’ during the coronavirus shutdown.

Matches in the Premier League and Football League have been postponed until April 30th at the earliest, although there is a common acceptance that a resumption before the start of June is unlikely.

Many clubs are treating the current shutdown like the summer break, although with two key differences: 1) they don’t have a date when matches will resume, 2) there is likely to be glut of games within a short timeframe when the season does re-commence.

Preston are currently sixth in the Championship and have nine games of the regular season remaining, with the possibility of play-off games after that.

Little told Preston’s official website it was not enough to simply keep the players fit during the shutdown.

"The games period when we return is going to be super ambitious, with maybe two games a week for five or six weeks, so we need to keep them football fit," he explained. “We are trying to cover all bases and get them back to fitness as quickly as possible when we do return. They have to hit the ground running.”

Little has given the players specific programmes to follow three times a week, as well as “lots of ideas” about how to work on three key elements of ‘football fitness’ during the break.

“The first thing they have to work on is their long-term endurance, so that when they come back, they can very quickly be able to play 90 minutes,” he said.

“This is more akin to what most people do for long-distance running - steady plodding and they can do that running, biking or a mixture of cardiovascular equipment they might be lucky enough to have at home. Most of the lads will still be able to go outside and run.

“The second point is we want them to still be quick and have all their sprint capacities, so we are going to get them to run as fast as they can and also acceleration with twists and turns, which you have a lot of in football.

“Thirdly, we have what we call high-intensity interval work. This is really good for staying fit and increasing fitness, as well and coping with the sustained hard part of a match and we do things here where you are running at around half your maximum speed to 90% of your maximum speed for as long as you can.”

Both the EFL and Premier League are holding meetings about the coronavirus crisis this week. Most clubs feel that the earliest players would be able to return to training grounds would be May, and only then in order to train, with eating, changing and showering taking place at home.

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