Planning the In-Season Microcycle in Soccer (Part 2) – Mark Williams Case Study

I am more than glad that the previous post of Planning the in-season microcycle in soccer got a good reception and generated some talk/sharing. I would really like that this expands a bit more and become a series of case studies from the field: something that a potential coach can refer to and see how fellow coaches solved similar problems.

I decided to make the template open for non-members as well with the hope of them filling it out and providing some rationale for their choices. The Excel template is available HERE.

If you plan to fill it out, please include the following scenarios:

1. One game per week (Sun-Sun, or Sat-Sat)
2. Two games per week (Sun-Wed-Sun, Sun-Thu-Sun)

There are plenty of variations (like Sat-Sun-Sat, or Sun-Wed-Sat-Sun, etc) so please provide some ideas how would general templates change (increase rest, loading, taper durations, etc).

Mark Williams Case Study

A friend of mine from the UK, Mark Williams (Head of S&C at Southend United) was more than kind to share some of his thoughts and practical solutions with me and the readers. I want to thank Mark for taking his time to write it down and share. Besides, I also need to give credit to Mark since one of his Annual Planning sheets he shared with me circa two years ago got me thinking how can I make mine better since I really liked some of the design/solutions he used. I have implemented some of his ideas to Annual Planner for Sports, so I need to give Mark some public credit.

Here is Mark’s in-season microcycle solution and rationale behind it:

Mark Williams Template

Download Mark Williams Excel template HERE

We attempt to keep everyone in a very similar cycle apart from the developmental squad (reserves) who receive more training means per weekly cycle.In general, much of our loading takes place on a Tuesday where we will utilize varied sized games with different conditions placed upon them, We will then supplement with running where necessary / appropriate. Strength means are also used – generally utilizing auto regulation to determine loads along with my assistant and my own observation of what is appropriate given the nature of the week we’re in and what we wish to accomplish.

Thursday we often use a speed-strength type primer session prior to the football content. In the pm we have either yoga or individualized remedial training. You will notice however, that the development group will have a second football training. They will receive a second strength stimulus on Friday.

We tend to try to maintain this routine which suits our squad very well. We interpret this to reflect the human being side to the players. What I mean by that is to provide them with a sense of control over their week by enabling them to plan their lives outside of training. By knowing the week they also can bring the correct intensity to their training.

We do unload particular players at times due to either previous injuries, age, or observations in terms of fatigue. We utilize a weekly vertical jump which is performed on Thursday. This works nicely as players are not going to want to miss training as they want to ensure they’re in contention for Saturday’s squad and as a result, they apply maximal effort to the jump. We have used wellness questionnaires also but the jump is our most favored tool.

We also have identified players who require manual work to release tightness (particularly around the hip region). For these players we refer to our chiropractor generally on a Monday so they are ‘put right’ for the start of the training week.

Re. the coaching week, we do not really rotate with any real prescription. That said, we recognize the importance to do so and thus will do this. However, often it is the medical and sports science / S&C staff who are required to cater for all groups of players including the injured players.

If there is a game Tuesday we will often do an active recovery Sunday and again on Thursday (this also depends upon distance traveled and the time we arrive back home). I this now provides better clarity.

We always train on a Monday after a Saturday game. This however is only light training which is serving to get the players moving again to facilitate recovery. This prepares them for Tuesday’s trainings which are invariably intensive in nature. We have previously used our regeneration methods on a Monday but we found that players were still not optimally recovered to perform on Tuesday. I think we’ve spoken about this previously, but it helps (our squad) if they are back on their feet and moving as opposed to a pool-based or off-feet based training.

The reserves’ templates look as if loading is excessive in some areas. Of course, we aim to logically apply load and undulate the intensities by liaising with football coaching staff as to what is best placed (speed means on separate day from aerobic for example).

Anyone willing to share their own problems and solutions please do. I will gladly publish the case studies and probably provide overview at the end of the series.

Here is the article series which I have written on this subject:

Planning the in-season microcycle in soccer – Part 1: Complexity
Planning the in-season microcycle in soccer – Part 2: Mark Williams Case Study
Planning the in-season microcycle in soccer – Part 3: Mick McDermott Case Study
Planning the in-season microcycle in soccer – Part 4: Thoughts on Recovery “mini-block”
Planning the in-season microcycle in soccer – Part 5: Thoughts from the Archive
Planning the in-season microcycle in soccer – Part 6: In-season strength training for soccer

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