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Players in lockdown: how to stay fit

19 March 2020
Professional footballers are seeing their training schedules disrupted by the coronavirus. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vincent Gouttebarge offers some advice on how to stay fit and healthy.

is it ok to train with my teammates?

Your club should follow the advice of the national government on whether you can continue training in a group. If you still have contact with your teammates and coaching staff, please be aware of hygiene to avoid spreading the coronavirus. The Swiss player union SAFP has some drawn up some excellent advice on hygiene in the changing room and on the pitch. If you have concerns that the club is not following government advice, please contact your national player association.

 

how can I stay fit, without leaving my house?

Your club should provide you with a workout schedule. If they have not given you a training program, then request that they provide you with one. More than anything, it’s important to maintain your endurance level. If you’re housebound, we recommend intensive sessions (at 130-160 beats per minute) on a treadmill or exercise bike for 30 to 60 minutes, at least twice a week. You should cover the equivalent of six to 10 kilometres during each session. (You will typically cover 10 kilometres or more in a match.)

It’s also important to work on speed conditioning at least twice a week. You should aim for sessions lasting up to 30 minutes in which you sprint at very high intensity (more than 190 beats per minute) for short periods. You should keep moving in between sprints.

 

where should I train if i can still go outside?

It’s best to run on grass (on a football pitch or in a park) if possible because it is less stressful on your joints. You can follow the same endurance and speed conditioning plans as described above, if you don’t have specific information from your club’s physical trainer.

 

Are there any exercise apps you recommend?

The International Olympic Committee has developed Get Set – Train Smarter, which is a free app suitable for elite professional athletes and is available in different languages. There is a specific program for football players to work on strength, coordination and flexibility. You can download the app in the Apple store and Google Play. Following the football program two or three times a week will significantly reduce your chances of getting injured when you return to play. (It’s especially effective in reducing hamstring injuries.) You can do the exercises either in the gym or outside.

 

How do I keep up my spirits when I am stuck on my own?

It’s important to keep in contact with friends and family online, as well as your teammates and coaching staff. In this article and on the athlete365 website there are some good tips on how to keep fit mentally

Contact your national player association if you need assistance with professional or personal problems, and you are not comfortable discussing them with your club. Your player association will help you, or put you in contact with an independent expert. A list of FIFPRO’s affiliated player associations is available on this website in the Contact Us section.

 

What should I do if I feel ill?

Follow the advice of health authorities, like the World Health Organisation to see if you have symptoms of the coronavirus. They emphasise you should phone for advice – instead of visiting a medical centre -to avoid spreading the virus.