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World Cup: England must banish any thoughts of fatigue

Tuesday 5 June 2018

Winter break could still be beneficial say fitness experts

STATISTICS pointing to England’s players having ‘fewer exertions’ than the French and Spanish ahead of the World Cup, will have no bearing on the Three Lions’s plans for Russia, say sport scientists.

CIES Football Observatory data shows that the squad have played a total of nearly 77,000 minutes of football this season compared to 82,000 for France and more than 85,000 for the Spanish contingent in Russia.

It comes after former boss Sven Goran-Erickson blamed ‘too much football’ for England’s failure in past tournaments and called for a winter break for the Premiership.

But Chris Bramah, a fitness researcher in Sport, Exercise and Physiotherapy at the University of Salford insists that fatigue will be banished from players’ bodies and minds by the coaching staff.

Fresh & ready

“I’m sure that Gareth Southgate and his backroom staff are doing everything they can to ensure all the players are physically prepared and are not fatigued going into this tournament," explains Chris.

"Fatigue can range from a whole host of factors from mental to physical recovery, so having the players going  to Russia believing that  they are fresh,that they are ready to compete, and that they can win is going is absolutely vital if they are to do well.

“All the preparation will be about creating that psychology that they are ready to play and are in the best possible shape.”

Nonetheless, the arguments do remain for a winter break, he says:  “A break half-way through the season could be beneficial in that it would allow teams to focus on ensuring that all the players are fully fit and have recovered from any niggles or little injuries they may have had.

“A break would give coaching another ‘pre-season’ to rebuild and develop the physical qualities, the strength qualities and the cardiovascular fitness again, so that the players can maintain the optimum fitness right through the season."

Thrive on intensity

"What we know from sport science is that over long period of intense physical activity athletes develop a tolerance to cope with high training loads and performance demands.

“There’s a fine line between optimal recovery and deconditioning, so I think the biggest problem for some of the England players is this brief period when they don’t have any games.

“What Gareth Southgate and the coaching staff need to avoid is an overfocus on recovery and rest , to the point where they deconditon players. If that happens, England may not take in their stride the rapid change in intensity and this may prove an injury risk to some of them.

“So it’s important for Gareth to get the balance right between recovery and maintaining the physical qualities the players have developed throughout the season.”

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Gareth Hollyman, Senior Press & PR Officer (Science)

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