Corona virus in Sweden: Interview with Jimmy Högberg (physical coach at Örebro SK)


In Sweden, things go differently compared to other European countries. The Swedish Football Association is planning to start the competition (Allveskan) on the 14th of June, but it’s still uncertain. This makes it difficult for coaches to make a training schedule. During these difficult times we’ve managed to talk to Jimmy Högberg, physical coach at Allveskan league team Örebro SK, and asked him a couple of questions on his way of handling the effect of the Corona virus in Sweden at his club Örebro SK.

Can you explain what the current situation is in Sweden, regarding the corona virus?

“Well, it’s not a complete lockdown, like in other countries in Europe. We’re still allowed to go outside and do our thing. Regarding football, there are no games played in Sweden at the moment. We’re playing internal games and it’s a very interesting situation when you don’t know when the league is starting. For other countries, it will probably be easier, because they start in September or October later this year. But it’s very difficult for the coaching staff to prepare the team for something when we don’t know if the league will start in June or July. This can be a difference of more than 4 to 6 weeks.” 

How does the coronavirus affect players?

“It’s also interesting to see how we can work with the players. They are very much focused on the microcycle: there is a game, there is an evaluation and then there is a new game. That’s how you work as a football player. And now we need to find different triggers of education for the players and the model of playing.

Does it affect you as a physical coach?

“If you zoom out and look at the society, the supporters waiting for games, the economy, everything of that is, of course, all bad. We need the games so the economy starts rolling again.

For me as a person, I like it actually. As a physical coach with fitness responsibilities etcetera, I like different challenges and situations. If you just look at the work process for me and my colleagues as coaches, it gives us opportunities to try new things”

How do you motivate your players?

“First of all: we kept training and we knew that it would be a later start of the season. At that point, other countries were shutting down, but we didn’t have enough information on what was going to happen. So we waited, in the beginning, to see where it all goes. As soon as we got the information, we gave our players a break of 15 days. To get their mind out of football and get some freshness in their bodies. At home, they needed to do some individual training sessions themselves.

 We also changed the way we work with the microcycle of the periodization. We gave different input for the players with new exercises to motivate the players. We believe that the variation of exercises is very important to motivate the players.”

What are the challenges of creating a training schedule?

“Every week we have an internal game, because there were no restrictions on playing internal games. Also, the idea was to play a training game tournament with six other teams. Then we would have real games to prepare for the season. Unfortunately, the restrictions on traveling became harder, so the tournament got canceled and we needed to change our training schedule. We constantly need to adapt to the situation.

We also have to be prepared for a scenario that we can’t play friendly matches at all before the league starts. How can we simulate real games? How can we create that feeling for the players? That will be a challenge for the coaching staff. We now have a schedule of 6 days of training with 1 internal game and Sunday is a day off. On Monday we start the microcycle again.”

How do you use GPS to evaluate your training schedule?

“We’ve been monitoring with 1 player (central player) and use him as a reference for the team. We know it’s not 100%, but it at least gives us an idea of the load of exercises compared to each other. How many sprints does a player do in this exercise? And how many sprints within a match? That’s how I’ve been using GPS with the coaching staff. It really is an educational tool for us. The Head Coach never used GPS before, so it’s a good starting point. Comparing exercises with each other on speed parameters, player load, number of sprints, etc. High speed running, sprinting and player load are the most important parameters we look at.”

Örebro SK GPS

Örebro SK using GPS sensor during training

How do you communicate the GPS data with the coaches?

“I try to explain the GPS data to the coaches. When we do small-sided games we don’t get a lot of sprints and high speed running, but if we do large sided games the sprints and high speed running increases. I don’t create reports or something, because we’re sitting in the same room. When I want to show the coaching staff something, I just show the JOHAN Analysis Platform on our TV screen. I present the training session and the output of the exercises and combine them with the video platform we use. In that way, they will see the exercises on the video and the GPS data in the graphs.

I don’t want to only give a report and leave it on the desk of the coach. I try to look on the platform and balance the amount of information I want to give to the coaching staff. The coaching staff exists of 4 people at the moment. We have a head coach and three assistant coaches. One for tactical/technical parts, one for goalkeeping and myself for the fitness and physical part.”

Do you communicate the GPS data with the players?

“I don’t communicate that the players need to run more or need to do more sprinting. That all depends on the playing position and what happens in the match. I only tell them that we use GPS to evaluate exercises. Comparing exercises of the training session and relate them to the match.

It’s very interesting to see how GPS data relates to the microcycle. Right now we’re more coordinating towards the tactical periodization. We have a microcycle of 5 days training and 1 internal match. We look at how many percentages of the match we need to do on certain training days. That’s how I also want to use GPS technology more for the future. The current situation also makes it interesting to measure the changes we’ve done in our work.”

What do you like the most about the JOHAN Analysis Platform?

“I like to use the “COMPARE” and “CYCLE” tab within the platform, so I can compare training sessions with each other. Then I can see what the load of each session was based on a certain parameter (such as sprinting, player load, high-intensity sprints). In the CYCLE tab, I can watch the microcycle of the week. I really like the overview. It’s very clear and very clear to a coach as well. Especially the graphical overview for a coach is very user-friendly. It’s very easy for them to understand different training sessions compared to matches.

When I upload an event, I always go to “PHASES” to watch the outcome of the exercises. That’s how I start. Of course, when I started with using this, I didn’t have that much experience with the possible outcome of sprints or high-intensity sprints within exercises. The more I worked with it, the more feeling I got with on how much each exercise demanded from a player externally. That’s for coach something you get more and more skillful in understanding what happens in a certain exercise.”

Exercises JOHAN

JOHAN Sports “Phases” view

What tips do you have for teams considering GPS technology? 

“I think it’s important to understand the microcycle of your training week. What is the difference between my Friday training session (Matchday-1) and Wednesday training session (Matchday -3) in minutes? For example, Friday we trained 60 minutes and Wednesday we trained 90 minutes. GPS technology can help you understand the microcycle better. First of all, the recovery from the last game and then working towards the next game. Just that type of understanding of what did we do each training session within the microcycle.


JOHAN Sports Cycle module

And also the understanding of doing exercises. What happens when I use larger spaces or increase field dimensions? What are the results of a large sided game and a small-sided game? My small-sided games give me no high-intensity sprints, so maybe I need to add another drill to my training. Try to be skillful in the periodization of the microcycle.

Another tip I can give is to try to combine GPS with RPE questionnaires as well. It’s nice to know what the external load of the players is in meters etcetera, but it’s also important to know how your players feel the next morning. I know that it’s maybe not 100% accurate, but at least we are then thinking about it. In this way, it gives awareness to the coaches.”







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