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Fitness & Health

15th Jul 2015

5 ways young footballers can train like Premier League players (Video)

Ben Kenyon

Dedication and consistency – this is what marks professional footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo out from the rest of us.

The Nike Academy’s top coaches have given us a brilliant insight into how they turn raw, unsigned talent into Premier League stars of the future.

“The modern day footballer is as fast as possible, as strong as you can possibly be, aerobically fit, have the ability to sprint, change direction, move in a number of different planes of motion whilst being able to stop your opponent and reacting to different situations and being the fastest one there,” says Nike sports scientist Craig Turner.


In plain English, you need to be better, faster, stronger and harder to beat (to paraphrase Daft Punk).

Just look at the imperious athleticism of Ronaldo which enables him to dominate games and you can see why the right physical training can take your ability to the next level.

Whether you’re a Sunday League hero or a young footballer progressing in the game, there are some essential lessons we can pick up from the training programme at the Nike facility at England’s St George’s Park.

1. Gym work

To develop your athleticism and perform on the pitch, gym work is essential in the lightning-paced modern game, says Turner.

He says players need to have a solid base of strength throughout their body, which gives a foundation for building speed and power on.

Getting in the gym and building strong, powerful legs and an iron core will help you become better, faster and stronger on the field.

That means weightlifting, core strength, suspension training and all the grinding gym work that will translate to the showbiz stuff in actual games.

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2. Movement patterns

It’s not a case of just going into the gym, sticking a load of weight onto a bar and heaving it up any old how.

That’s how you develop bad habits, bad technique and injuries. Nike’s strength and conditioning coach Josh Dixon works on ‘patterning’ with young players.

That is perfecting the movement pattern on exercises like the squat or lunge with light weights and high reps.

Replicating movements players make on the field, then training those movement patterns in the gym correctly will make players stronger, more resistant to injury and an overall better athlete.

“It’s quality, not quantity Then we can build it up,” Dixon says.

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3. Sprinting

Modern footballers must be fast, agile, strong and durable from the first minute to the last – games are won and lost on this.

Some of the best Manchester United sides were famous for pushing right to the line and winning games deep into ‘Fergie time’.

The Nike coaches say repeat sprint ability, max velocities, accelerations, decelerations and changing directions are key to the modern footballer.

So breaking these elements down and working on them as part of a training programme is a must.

Turner says “If you neglect one, then it’s going to transfer onto the pitch.”

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4. Dedication

Nobody ever got anywhere sitting on their arse. Dedication to training off the pitch, is just as important as on the pitch.

“The ones that work the hardest in the gym, in recovery and in the jump tests are the ones that get the success and get the contracts,” says Dixon.

Every young player must focus 100% on their physical development. Premier League sides like Manchester United and Arsenal instil this mantra and work ethic in their young players from the beginning.

For anyone else looking to develop as a player, the same rules apply.

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5. Consistency

“Day to day determination is what underpins success,” Dixon says.

That means testing your body in the gym every day, doing the workouts you don’t want to do, getting out of bed on a Sunday to give 100% on your sprint training and putting the hard yards in week in and week out.

When you’re doing the business on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke one day, you’ll look back and think ‘it was all worthwhile.’

Consistency, commitment and hard work beats talent every time.

“If you want to be elite, you have to make this a habit, Dixon says. “That’s what differentiates the pros.”

H/T Nike Training