In previous blogs we have provided benchmarks for different playing levels, and different playing positions. But what are you going to do when your team does not reach the benchmark for your playing level? Does this mean that your team is not fit enough? Or might there also be other reasons why your team does not reach the benchmark? In this blog, we will illustrate what steps you can take to get your team as fit as possible with the use of benchmarks.
Assume that you are comparing the performance of your team with the benchmark for their playing level. You see that your team reaches the benchmark for total distance, sprint distance and high intensity sprint distance. However, your team is far below the benchmark for running distance ( distance with 14-20 km/h). Is there a factor which might explain this difference? Or is this a physical shortcoming of your team and do you, therefore, need to improve their running performance?
Besides physical fitness, team tactics also play an important role in the physical workload that your team performs. If your team has an attacking playing style, the players of your team try to use the width of the pitch to disorganize the defensive team (i.e. increase the distance between the players of the defensive team to create open spaces for their teammates). In order to disorganize the defensive team even more, the players are constantly moving around the field to try to create open spaces for their teammates. On the other hand, if your team has a defensive playing style, your players try to play compact (i.e. decreasing the distance between teammates). Instead of moving around the field to create open spaces, they try to keep the play static and react according to the movements of the opponents (i.e. accelerations and decelerations to stop the explosive actions of the opponents). When the team is on a counterattack, the attacking players sprint quickly to the other side of the field and return immediately to their defensive playing position after the attack. When translating this to the parameters of the benchmark, a defensive playing style likely results in (relatively) less running distance compared with an attacking playing style. Furthermore, the counterattacks of the defensive team likely result in relatively more sprint meters. Therefore, based on the playing style of the team you are able to decide whether it is important to reach the benchmark for the different parameters.
But what are you going to do when you think the running performance of your team is not related to the playing style of your team, but it is a physical shortcoming of your players? In order to improve the running performance of your team you can play middle-large sized game formats (6v6-8v8). To promote the running performance during these games even more, you can apply rules that challenge the players to be constantly moving around the field (e.g. one/two touch play).
Benchmarks can give you insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your team. However, playing style also has an effect on the workload of your team. Therefore, when you are going to set training goals based on benchmarks, it is important to take playing style into account. If you think the decrease in running distance of your team is caused by a physical component, you can integrate middle-large sized game formats (6v6-8v8) to improve the running performance of your players. Hence, we can conclude that if you want to optimize the performance with the use of benchmarks, you are trying to reduce the weaknesses of your team!
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