Physical fitness

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In sport, and in football in-particular, there are many key components of physical fitness that are required in order to succeed at any competitive level. To compete with your opponents you must have many key attributes in which you are equal with, or better than them at. The physical demands of playing football to a competitive level are massive in comparison to some less physical sports, such as tennis. To succeed in football general components of physical fitness are required, but to play at a high level you will also need many skill related components of physical fitness. The general components of physical fitness are cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, speed, strength and flexibility.

Cardiovascular endurance is needed in most sports in order to be successful. In football, cardiovascular endurance is required so that you can play at a steady pace, for 90 minutes week in week out. An example of a player with good cardiovascular endurance would be Thierry Henry for Arsenal. This is because he plays the game at a very fast pace but usually lasts 90 minutes, and doesn’t miss many games.

Muscular endurance is needed in football because your muscles are working hard for a very long time. In order to play well, you don’t want your muscles to feel tired or weary, because then you will struggle to play to the best of your ability. An example of a player with good muscular endurance would be Chelsea centre midfielder Claude Makalele. This is because in centre midfield he is required to make a lot of tackles and physical challenges, yet he still plays at his peak without his muscles tiring too much and hindering his performance.

Speed is required in football so that you can go past players if you play in an attacking role, or if you are a defender, so that you can keep up with the attacking players to stop them scoring. An example of an attacking player with good speed would be Liverpool striker Michael Owen. He is very fast when running with or without the ball, and can go past most defenders in Europe at pace. An example of a defensive player with good speed would be Real Madrid’s Brazilian left back Roberto Carlos. He isn’t easily beaten and the attacker usually has to use trickery to get by him as he is too fast to go past using just speed.

Strength is required in football in order to hold off your opponent and when making a challenge either in the air or on the ground. An example of a player who has good strength would be Arsenal centre back Sol Campbell. He can outmuscle most strikers in Europe, and dominates in the air and on the ground. Finally, flexibility is needed in football mostly for goalkeepers. If a goalkeeper is flexible, it means he can reach most corners of the goal. An example of a goalkeeper in football with good flexibility would be Liverpool’s England international goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. This is because he has the ability to pull off saves where he needs to reach and parry the ball right out of the corner of the goal. Sean Halsey 12 TST5 Page 2 08/05/2007 The skill related components of physical fitness are agility, balance, co-ordination, speed of reaction and timing.

Agility is needed in football mostly for goalkeepers, but also for players in attacking positions. Goalkeepers are often required to change the direction of their body in order to make a save. An example of a goalkeeper with good agility would be Leeds stopper Paul Robinson. Attackers are often required to change the direction of their body when trying to beat a defender. An example of an attacker with good agility would be Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole. His good agility helps him pull off tricks and pieces of skill that many defenders can’t handle.

Balance is required in football primarily for defenders but also for attackers so that they can stay on their feet when going forward. It is needed for defenders so that they can stay on their feet in the area whilst making a challenge. An example of a defender with good balance would be Italy centre back Allessandro Nesta. He very rarely goes to ground when making a challenge and is rated as one of the best defenders in the game.

Co-ordination is needed in football so that you don’t get mixed up when defending. It is required, along with communication, so that you know what you’re other defensive team mates are doing. An example of a defender with good co-ordination would be Chelsea captain John Terry. He communicates with his defensive team mates well and rarely gets caught out of position due to this. Speed of reaction is needed in football especially for goalkeepers in a penalty situation and for attackers when there is a free ball in the area. An example of a striker with good speed of reaction would be Alan Shearer. When there is a free ball in the area he often latches on to it and this is how he scores so many of his goals.

Finally, timing is needed in football for attackers and defenders. For attackers, they need to time their runs perfectly in order to avoid being offside. An example of an attacker with good timing would be Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. He times his runs almost to perfection and catches a lot of defenders out when making runs. For defenders, timing is needed so that they don’t miss time their challenges and give away a foul. An example of a defender with good timing would be Manchester United and England centre back Rio Ferdinand because he hardly ever gives away fouls.

In all sports, before you can go out for a match or training session you should perform a warm up. This is to get the blood flowing round your body quicker and to stretch your muscles so that you don’t get any injuries. For me personally, I like to use a lot of stretches and speed exercises in warm ups, because I tend to get strains very easily, so I like to know that my leg muscles are properly stretched before I start the match or training. I will usually start with a light jog, and then once I have finished I will stretch all my muscles. I start by rotating my ankles and then move on to calf stretches, quad stretches, hamstring stretches and groin stretches. I hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds before releasing. Then I like to do a bit more running,

Sean Halsey 12TST5 Page 3 08/05/2007 something that involves a change of speed (like shuttles). Then I usually do a bit of ball work to get my touch right, either passing in pairs or dribbling round a circuit, followed by more stretches to finish off the warm up. Stretching your muscles improves the speed and force of your muscular contractions, so that you can perform actions during a game quicker and more efficiently. Running exercises do basically the same job as stretches, but are geared more specifically towards just running.

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