POOR PREPARATION: Andrew Tidswell reckons that injury problems, like those often suffered by Arsenal, occur because of bad pre-season habits.

Tidswell Talk: Why I have never enjoyed a pre-season

By Andrew Tidswell

POOR PREPARATION: Andrew Tidswell reckons that injury problems, like those often suffered by Arsenal, occur because of bad pre-season habits.

It’s that time of year again that all footballers dread.

Apart from being back with the team and discussing summer events it’s a time for a lot of hard work, sweat and pain.

I personally have never enjoyed a pre-season at any club I have been at. But, having said that, some people relish the opportunity to put the hard work in.

Don’t get me wrong, I work hard and make sure I am in good shape – but I’d much rather get straight into the nitty gritty of the football season.

Pre-season for me is where you see the difference between the average and the best managers/coaches.

Yes, pre-season is about working hard and preparing. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fun and game related.

I am of the philosophy that footballs should be out at every opportunity, so it is a coaches’ and managers’ job to be creative and imaginative with sessions to get what they want out of them… but also to keep players interested.

I have been at some clubs where you run around a track for 1,000m eight times. This, for me, shows a coach devoid of ideas.

PRE-SEASON HATER: Andrew Tidswell.

PRE-SEASON HATER: Andrew Tidswell.

Base fitness is good to have, so an element of running is for sure going to happen. But when do you run consistently at one speed for a long period of time in a football match?

Quite simply you shouldn’t. You stop, start, change direction, change speeds. Would you teach a pianist to play the piano by running around it?

The footballs should be out from day one. Mini 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3 games at high intensity are just as effective.

It has footballs involved which is working players technically and working the players hard for short, sharp bursts. No player in any football club I have been at wants to lose, whether it’s a head tennis match or a 2v2, so hard work is guaranteed.

It often feels like a pre-season drags on, so it’s also important to get the balance of working hard and being fresh for the start of the campaign.

Even in the top leagues in England – the Championship and Premier League – how many times do we see teams losing players around March time through muscle injuries?

I am an Arsenal fan and have admiration for Arsene Wenger, but consistently over the last four/five years we have an injury list as long as your arm around March due to muscle injuries – and I have no doubt this is down to training methods.

The football season is a long campaign, so why do we hit the ground hard?

We should build into it gradually, increasing the workload to maximise optimum performance. It would be interesting to see or hear about other pre-seasons in whichever division you are playing in this year, so why not send in your view?

But here is to another great season for everyone – and enjoy your football.

  • Andrew Tidswell is a Spalding United player and Elite Sports Academy MD. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewTidswell.

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