INTERVIEW; The Truth about Football Strength & Conditioning

So a few weeks ago I ran a Poll on my Twitter Page in regards to S&C (Strength & Conditioning) as I've heard stories about clubs stopping extra practice, non position specific S&C plus Sarri's comments about weights.


Clubs spending alot of money on strength & conditioning but is this taking over the session at the expense of fun, technique & extra practice

  • Yes 44%

  • No 34%

  • One Fence 22%

So obviously in the Coaching Industry there is some confusion, so I approached one of my followers Rob Hart a Coach at St Johnstone in Scotland and who has a Sports Science Degree who kindly answered some questions about Strength & Conditioning in Football. Hope this helps and makes you understand S&C more and the benefits of it.

1. What is S&C (Strength & Conditioning) and what does it involve?

It is the development of fundamental movements or physical components that play a key role in enabling or enhancing sporting performance. So basically any movement or action you can think of. Firstly can we develop the technique and then can we get stronger or quicker at it? We may consider Agility, balance and coordination whilst actions such as pulling, pushing, jumping, landing, accelerations, deceleration's lunging and squatting are included.

Then there is the development of aerobic/anaerobic capacities at age and maturation appropriate stages of course.

2. What is your background in this?

I have helped develop football players over a period of 20 years now. I Currently work as an academy coach at St Johnstone FC and first team coach at Newtongrange Star in the East of Scotland League (5th tier of Scottish football) I am a UEFA Youth A licence holder & have a degree in sports science. For many years as a coach I have always attempted to develop “the physical” side of the game. A players strength, Power, agility, aerobic & anaerobic capacity should all be considered alongside the players technical, tactical, psychological development. Most recently I have begun working as a performance coach with youth athletes at grassroots and pro youth level. Looking to isolate specific movements, intervene and develop their performances and reduce injury risks.

3. In the overall session how much input does the s&c coach have in the session?

Firstly It is important to consider which physical components are appropriate for age and stage or position. This then determines the length of session, duration and intensity of activities.

4. During a session how much S&C should be done and at what part of session? For both Full Time & Semi Pro (training twice a week).

S&C done well is considered throughout every session.

5. Explain 6 weeks cycles and what they are used for?

Periodising is a training strategy for your player’s/teams physical, technical and tactical training. Below I have gone further than explaining a 6 week cycle as that is just the tip of the ice berg.


  • Macro cycle - Training period of 1 year.

  • Meso Cycle - Training cycle of 3-4 months

  • Micro Cycle - Training cycle of 1 week

  • Session - Number of sessions, minutes/hours during Micro Cycle

Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Plan. This is a youth LTAD plan and gives a good indication on physical and psychological periodisation.

An example of S&C periodisation across the LTAD.

6. What is better. Bodyweight exercises or gym? Thoughts on Sarri's recent comments about weights?

Its difficult to comment without knowing the context of his comments. Though it is difficult to argue with research on this topic. Strength and power training using weights can drastically improve a players’ ability to produce better performances and reduce non impact injury risks to the players.

However S&C isn’t just weights training. It’s all physical components require to complete football actions over a period of time. So to develop strength and power we might use the gym or bodyweight exercises to achieve this.

7. Is S&C split up into the different position (ie goalkeeper, striker) on the pitch based on the movement or do the whole team do the same? If the later, should it be split?

S&C at the beginning of the LTAD plan will be general development of fundamental movements. As the players mature it would be specific to the sport and positional requirements.

8. What are the main benefits for players of S&C?

The most common benefits are increased strength, power and speed, stronger bones and a reduced risk to injury.

9. Some people indicated S&C is taking over session and not allowing extra practice. Is this true and if so why?

Without having the same personal experience as these coaches it’s difficult to imagine why they feel this way. Maybe it is the programme being implemented poorly, maybe up- skilling the coaches and increasing understanding will help the situation resolve itself. I personally see S&C or specific performance training as extra practice. As I have mentioned above S&C training reduces injury risk therefore if training programme is carried out properly your players will practice more as they will spend less time injured.

Good places and programmes to follow on Twitter






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Nine One Football are the Expert's’ when it comes to Striker & Goalkeeper Soccer Training. We have developed the revolutionary Nine One Football Methodology which is both conducted by specialist qualified coaches and has Elite Academies, Group & Private Training and now via Coaching E-books to get Results in the Final Third. Finally, a small sided game 3v3+GK has been created which has more touches, more goals, more saves. Head Coach of Nine One Football is Paul Harvey who is FFA Level 1 Qualified Coach who specialises in coaching Goalkeepers and Strikers.

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