Footballers who play at the top level are in the fortunate position of having every aspect of their training routine managed in minute detail by their clubs.
Sports science plays a huge part in the day-to-day lives of elite players, but for amateurs it can be a completely different story.
Many players lower down the scale will see their season end during April and they may not grace a football pitch again until August.
In some cases that gap may even extend to the first game of the season in September, with some amateur players avoiding any preparation work.
However, by employing elements of the techniques used by elite level players, it is possible for amateurs to improve their training routines.
Read on as we look at elite football training tips every amateur player can use.
Build training into your daily routine
Football’s top stars are subjected to intensive training sessions, with many clubs working with their players two or three times a day.
While that level of commitment may not be possible for amateur players who have full-time jobs, it is feasible to build additional fitness work into your daily routine. Proper pre-workout supplementation can also help with boosting energy levels during training and helping you get more results out of your training.
Signing-up at your local gym, cycling, swimming, walking or simply exercising at home can all help to improve your fitness levels.
Most amateur clubs now include training sessions before and during the season, so make sure you attend these to boost your fitness even further.
Professional players have access to nutritionists who provide advice about the best things to eat so they can perform at their best.
They are encouraged to keep a selection of cereals, porridges, oats and granola in their kitchen cupboards. Players can enjoy different combinations with a range of fruit yoghurts, milk or Greek yoghurt.
Eggs are another good kitchen staple because players can always cook an omelette or some scrambled eggs when they’re tired.
Lunch and dinner for a footballer tends to involve a good variety of protein and carbohydrates. Turkey, beef, salmon and mackerel are popular choices, while a range of vegetables help to provide a balanced meal.
They may have the odd biscuit or sweet snack in the evening, but these should be eaten in moderation. Hydration is also important, so players should drink plenty of water.
Don’t neglect recovery time
Top clubs understand the importance of building in sufficient rest and recovery time for their players. Stretching out muscles, repairing tiny tears and getting lactic acid moving all help to aid recovery.
Getting enough rest is also crucial, so taking power naps and creating optimum sleeping conditions at home play their part in ensuring players get enough rest.
Taking recovery seriously helps to improve alertness, awareness and reaction times, leading to better on-pitch performance.
Sleep also helps with relationship building, anger management and internal organ health, and these are all elements that can benefit amateur players.
Match fitness matters
Professional clubs generally play a significant amount of pre-season games to build up match fitness. Players need a few reasonably competitive matches under their belt before diving into the real thing.
At amateur level it may not always be possible to play half-a-dozen friendlies, but even playing two or three can make a huge difference when the season gets underway.
Summer seven-a-side leagues are a great way to stay match fit, while pre-season tournaments also offer amateur clubs the opportunity to squeeze in some games before the real action starts.
Use sports psychology
Top level players regularly work with sports psychologists who teach them a range of mental tools and techniques.
Note everyone possesses the same confidence level as others, so helping them to improve this side of things can aid their on-field performance.
While no-one expects amateur clubs to start providing sports psychology services to their players, there are plenty of ways the discipline can be utilised.
Teaching amateur players to focus on simple goals will instinctively improve their performance, while encouraging them to embrace learning and research into how top stars have reached the pinnacle of the game can all help to create a positive mindset.
Keep things fun
Every football player wants to win matches, but it is important to remember that sport is meant to be fun, particularly at amateur level.
For Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was famed for his ‘hairdryer’ treatment of players, but the reality was somewhat different. Sir Alex understood the art of man management, mixing strong arm tactics with a sense of fun to get the most out of his players.
Amateurs play for the love of the game, so making sure the fun element isn’t neglected will get them performing to the best of their ability.
Team-building is crucial
Players need time to bond and develop trust, which isn’t always easy at amateur level. Work commitments may prevent players from getting together for just a few hours a week, so finding time for team-building is crucial.
A pre-season get together is always a good idea, while organising events at Christmas or a post-season trip away can help to build team spirit.
Amateur clubs should also remember to include players’ families in some of their activities. This can create a sense of community around the club and encourage others to join the set-up.
Teams who have a bond off the pitch generally perform better on it, so put some effort into building a positive environment.