In my inbox after bootcamp the other morning I had an email telling me I had a new comment:
So glad I found your website. I am starting to plan training for my U17 football team for 2012 (need to start early – these guys are keen).
With testosterone loaded young men, the idea of a bootcamp would certainly appeal to them. Do you have some tips when designing a plan for 16/17 year olds? Do you have a suggested routine?
The answer I wanted to give was a bit long for just a comment so I decided to do a whole post on it.
There are a couple things to keep in mind when training teenagers so that you can get the most out of them.
They want to be first
The big difference between training adults and adolescents or children is their competitive nature. I have about 4 bootcampers who get really motivated with some good competition, the rest just do it because I tell them to.
On the other hand, in Justin’s case, if you have several ‘testosterone loaded young men’ who want to train and are essentially a captive audience, you can really push their buttons with some competitive challenges.
So try to use challenge drills as often as possible, even include some light hearted punishments to the losers. Make sure it stays light hearted though and doesn’t get personal.
They have lots of time to train
Most AFL playing teenagers I know will run in their own time during pre-season. Usually around 5 or 6km. This is fine, provided they are not exacerbating any injuries, it will help increase their stamina for the constant running throughout the game.
As a result of that, I would avoid giving them much more long distance running during training. What you should focus on with them instead is acceleration, direction changes and explosive power.
Having the extra time on their hands will also make it easier for them to get adequate sleep for recovery.
Planning Out a Pre-season
Train in blocks
The first thing you will want to do is plan out a rough sketch of your pre-season.
Usually a sporting pre-season will involve increasingly difficult work up to a month or 2 before the first game where it will then start decreasing again.
I have no idea if this is still what the top coaches use, but it does make sense in terms of letting players recover from injuries from the season before building up to the hardest work. It also makes sense to back off a bit before the season starts so that your players aren’t all buggered during the first match of the season.
If you were to start now (September), I would break the plan down into several 4 week training blocks. Have a target goal and intensity level for each block. It might look something like this:
- September – Low Intensity (Rehab and exercise technique)
- October – Medium Intensity (Running and sprinting technique)
- November – Medium- High (Agility and strength)
- December – High (Sprints and plyometrics)
- Christmas Break
- January – Very High (Work capacity [boxing, sprints, strength circuits])
- February – Medium- High
- March – Low (Agility work)
Plan each block
Now that you have an overview of your training schedule, it’s time to plan out each block. Include a variety of strength, agility, speed, plyometric and endurance drills but place your emphasise on the drills that will improve the goal for that block.
Coming back to the competitiveness, try to include small team and challenge drills as much as possible. Also add this key element to keeping them motivated and coming to training. Fitness tests.
With my bootcamps we have a fitness test at the start and end of each 4 week block. Change the test at each block of training, preferably choose something that corresponds to that block of trainings goals. A 50m dash for sprint training, an agility run for agility work or a 1 minute pushup test for work capacity are a few examples. Put the scores up on a board or on the internet so that they know what they need to beat after 4 weeks.
Testing will also allow you to see where your guys are lacking in a particular area or if a few boys are lagging behind the rest of the group.
For those of you who haven’t seen Australian Rules Football before. Watch this montage.
If I was to pick some workouts out of the archives to use with a football team, these 10 workouts would be the ones I’d go to first. There are many more if you have a quick perusal through the archives.
- Rope Relay (You can use a piece of heavy equipment if you don’t have a rope)
- Hill Run Challenge
- Partner Sprint Intervals
- Byron Bay Cardio Workout
- Leg Makeover
- Upper Body Blast
- 300 Workout for Teams
- Tabata Sprints