SportPesa Clubhouse column ambassador, Doctor Khumalo talks about the importance of pre-season and how a team and its technical staff need to prepare before the season opener this weekend.
"The 2019/2020 Absa Premiership season is finally about to start this weekend and I know everyone just can’t wait for the action. We’ve been entertained by a number of pre-season friendly games and tournaments in the last few weeks, in preparation for the season ahead. All the teams have just come back from the pre-season and played their last preparatory games this past weekend. The last week of July was the last week of the periodization, a planning of the season.
"Now we are getting into the first phase of the season, following the preparatory stage – the periodization – which is the first competition. There will be the second competition and then the transition phase. What is periodization? Periodization is derived from a period which is a division of time into smaller, easy-to-manage segments. In this, training period specifically, periodization is a division of a yearly training plan into training phases which apply to principles of training, i.e. workload and intensity of a training programme towards success, in small units ranging from one week to a year. Each segment of training targets a specific type of training, like speed, skill, strength, stamina, and supplement. This is what we call the “Five-Ses”. In football, these fitness attributes (Five-Ses) need to be blended with both tactical and technical training, so that means a well-designed training programme that will take care of both the physiological and the psychological needs of the players in order to achieve maximum performance.
"Effective training is a coach’s responsibility to properly periodize and plan the training for the year. In essence, what I’m trying to show people here is that when the teams are in pre-season, this is the preparatory stage and it takes between six to eight weeks. And it involves all the elements I have mentioned – endurance capacity, skill and all the others, which also involves certain friendly matches within that period. This will determine how they will fare in the coach’s philosophy and how the coach wants them to play. This is usually done in a camp environment where the coach will bring in the new acquisitions so that they get the feel of the team before the season starts. When in camp, players spend a lot of time together and that develops the team spirit and unity within the team. That’s where the understanding between the players comes into play. The technical team can also experiment with different combinations because the working environment is conducive, as everything is within reach.
"Like I said, players spend a lot of time together in camp for that social cohesion, which helps a lot because the technical team can emphasise, influence and explain the way they are going to approach the season. That’s where you get the dos and the don’ts. That’s where certain departments within the team’s structure, like your marketing or communication department, will come into the camp for a day or two to address the players, especially new signings, about the club and how to handle themselves. Players can’t just join a club without knowing what the club is all about. They can’t just rely on what they see on television or hear from friends – there has to be a proper orientation.