Renowned fitness trainer Raymond Verheijen, who had trained top European clubs like Barcelona and Chelsea, shared his ideas on the changing demands of modern day football during a three-day conditioning course, which ended here on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference, Verheijen said fitness training for footballers could not be an isolated activity. “The person in charge of football training is also the person in charge of fitness training,” said the 41-year-old Dutchman.

Verheijen was pleased to see the interest from the 35 participating coaches, including some chief coaches from various clubs. “I have been training coaches in different countries. In 99 per cent of the cases, it is the next generation coaches who attend the course. But, it is the head coaches who go out and train the players.”

Breaking away from the concept of traditional way of training two hours twice a day, Verheijen advocated a 75-minute session (the net playing time during a match) of high quality training every day.

“If you train for 75 minutes a day, then presidents (of clubs) and media criticise.”

Citing the fact that several Indian players were prone to injuries, Verheijen underlined the importance of recovery as fatigue affected a player’s explosiveness and decision making ability.

He said the duration could be re-worked depending upon the weather conditions of hotter countries like India.

Verheijen said smaller football countries could catch up with developed nations by focusing on fitness.

More football hours

The Dutch trainer emphasised on playing more football hours and rejected the age-old ideas like separate fitness training and static stretching (the latter relaxes the muscles before a game).

“You lose football hours if fitness training is isolated.”

He suggested that it was necessary to convert footballers into fitness trainers. “It is easier for a footballer to understand the dressing room situations.”

The All India football Federation (AIFF) technical director, Rob Baan, agreed with Verheijen and said the AIFF was discussing the possibility of implementing the new approach to training with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Anadi Barua, one of the participating coaches in the course, said, “It was a very useful and enlightening course on fitness and training.

“The emphasis was also on practical knowledge, and it also guided us on how to increase the load on the players. More of such programmes will help us grow,” he said.

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