Making a fast-paced start to a game has many pay-offs. By taking the initiative a team can fly in to an unassailable lead, boosting their confidence and shattering the belief of the opposition.
However, a lightening quick start that bears no fruit can be very damaging. Mid-way through the second half when tired legs are waning and the opposition is growing in strength and confidence having ridden out the storm, late goals start to fly in at the wrong end.
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It’s not always the team that makes the best start or finishes the strongest that wins – the safer bet is the team that can maintain a high intensity for 90 minutes that conquers all.
Ahead of the 2002 World Cup, Gus Hiddink, then manager of co-hosts Korea, had a problem – his ubiquitous troops ran out of steam after 60 minutes. He called in conditioning expert, Raymond Verheijen, to solve the problem.
“The first time I visited the Korean training camp in 2002 I was watching training and I said to Gus Hiddink, “Why did you bring me here because these guys are already top fit?” They played high intensity football. He said, “Wait until the first friendly game and then tell me again”,” Verheijen told FFT.
“After that friendly game I immediately understood what he was talking about because for the first 60 minutes of the game they made a lot of actions per minute, but then in the last 30 minutes the number of actions per minute dropped dramatically.
“These players were not able to maintain a lot of actions per minute.”
Verheijen made some changes to the team’s training programme and the results were there for all to see during the tournament.
Korea defeated Portugal, Italy and Spain on their way to the semi-final defeat against Germany.
If your team needs to build lasting endurance watch this video and listen to the man that energised the Taegeuk Warriors.
Raymond Verheijen is the co-founder of the World Football Academy. For more information visit www.worldfootballacademy.co.uk
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