In professional soccer, the performance enhancement coaches are called fitness coaches, not strength and conditioning coaches. This label really undermines what they should be doing, helping athletes in football perform at their best. Fitness is often confused with conditioning, and conditioning is often interpreted as cardiovascular fitness. The real issue is that speed reserve and elastic power are not involved with professional soccer. No speed. Just repeat slow ability. Instead of poking fun of 26 inch verticals or 15m sprints that look like a high school boy’s time, we have to be realistic on the demands of the sport, meaning while speed kills, skill kills just as well. They call it the beautiful game for a reason, and not the fastest game on earth. Still, shouldn’t we make sure the fast guys remain fast that do have skills that are on the team? What about the guys that have some speed development left in the tank?
Several members of this message board video and observe some of the world class training labs that seem to enjoy lactate testing on treadmills and using cybex equipment for leg extensions, and let’s get honest here. All smoke and mirrors designed to fool both the players, the management, and themselves. A couple of consultants I know struggle each year to communicate very simple concepts like free weights vs machines and other rudimentary protocols such as recovery without stress is just a spa without facials.
The future is going to be a former soccer athlete with an assistant that comes from an olympic sport background that believes in a combination of speed and conditioning. Politically an amazing coach with the same program will not work because they will be seen as outsiders or don’t understand soccer. The new coach will be a player who improved or stayed in the league another 5 years because of training and recovery.
The future is going to have weight rooms that look like college D1 football facilities. When I hear we don’t want to train like football players I quip, don’t worry, your lack of speed and agility makes me believe you don’t!. We will see open floor designs and a focus on developing practical strength patiently. Testing will be done seamlessly as every rep is precious and accountable.
RSA will be tested 2-4 times a year. Most of the focus will be working both ends of the speed and endurance spectrum. Practices will be organized in a way that both tactical and development qualities will be in harmony.
The medical staff will look at the physiological monitoring together with the coaching staff. The medical staff will evaluate and treat injuries and work with the coach on return to play methods. As soon as the load becomes sufficient, the coaches take over. The coaches will not pretend to be PTs and will communicate more information to the medical staff.
Gait screening and motion capture will be the norm, not a selling point. Pressure mapping and EMG will be practical and rapid, not research like.
Nutrition will be based on reality and not voodoo. The athletes will be fed and expected to be responsible more and more and new technologies to evaluate glycogen stores without invasive methods such as sampling. Hydration struggles will be considered outdated.
Expected ETA? 2026