'Doing long distance runs where a player is just slogging through won't help their match fitness when they return'

'Doing long distance runs where a player is just slogging through won't help their match fitness when they return'
There has been a huge increase in the number of sports people going jogging to stay fit, but Kevin Tattan believes sprinting sessions are far more effective. Picture: INPHO/Photosport/Andrew Cornaga

FORMER Cork City strength and conditioning coach Kevin Tattan believes that were the League of Ireland to return, players would need up to a month of training with their clubs before returning to competitive matches.

Tattan believes that if players are rushed back to playing games, they would be increasing their risk of injury.

“A lot will depend on what the club have provided for the players in terms of programmes and whether the players have been sticking to the sessions,” Tattan said.

“The problem is when players start doing their own type of training, that may not be preparing them for their sport.

“Some clubs might not have been in regular communication and many players may not have been provided with detailed training guidance since the league stopped.

“Some are going to need at least four weeks of training with the clubs before playing games again, otherwise, they are increasing the risk of injury.

“We have seen a high increase in the number of injuries in the Bundesliga since its return and they are elite athletes.

“This is the longest the players would have been without training in a group. In the off-season most teams will give players around four weeks off before returning to some sort of training.

“Clubs can keep an eye on players and monitor them closely. Some players wouldn’t have kicked a ball since the start of March and even something as simple as kicking a ball, having not done for several weeks, can carry a risk of injury.

“When kicking a ball, a lot of force goes through the muscles connected around the hip and if players haven’t been exposed to the correct training, they risk injuring the groin region.”

The pandemic has led a lot of players believing that doing long distance running is the best way to keep fit.

Tattan believes that although long distance running might be beneficial to some people, it does not carry much benefit for soccer players.

“I see so many players doing five-kilometre runs thinking that is the best way for them to keep fit. Players think that by running for a long period of time until they are exhausted that they are preparing themselves in the right way.

“Doing long distance runs, where a player is just slogging through, is not very beneficial.

“If players want to cover 5km, they are much better off doing shorter distances at a higher pace with rest intervals in between.

“With long distance runs, players are running in straight lines. There is no change of direction, like they would have to do in a match.

“Additionally, too much of those type of runs can actually make a player slower. We have fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibres in our body.

“We see explosive athletes like sprinters with a higher proportion of fast-twitch fibres whereas slower-paced endurance athletes such as marathon runners, would have greater contribution of slow-twitch fibres.

“The more long-distance runs players do, without doing high-intensity sessions as well, those fast-twitch muscles become more oxidative and start acting like slow-twitch muscle fibres. Thus, potentially making players slower.

“Ideally, players should be doing one sprinting session a week, to maintain and increase their speed, an aerobic session to build their fitness and third session with a mixture of both sprinting and endurance.

“Those sprinting sessions should be, short bursts with long rests. Players could run for 10 seconds full intensity with over 90s seconds rest.

“In the aerobic session players would still be covering distances of over 5k but be doing it with intervals for 20s work and 20s rest.”

Barry O'Callaghan, Kevin Murray, Ian O'Donoghue, and Kevin Tattan after scoring for Midleton.
Barry O'Callaghan, Kevin Murray, Ian O'Donoghue, and Kevin Tattan after scoring for Midleton.

After spending three years working as a Cork City coach, Tattan says he could always tell the difference with the players that always wanted to get the best from themselves and those who would let their opportunity pass by.

“It’s easy to tell the players that were interested in bettering themselves and those doing it for show. As a strength and conditioning coach, my job was to provide a platform for the players and guide them on how to become better.

“The key was consistency. Some players might ask me for help for a week or two just to impress the manager but they would then just slip into their old bad habits.

“However, then I’ve dealt with players like Conor McCarthy, Sean McLaughlin and Seanie Maguire who were always asking questions, sometimes they might challenge the information with more questions but they were always looking to improve.

“Alan Bennett was another who was constantly looking to get the most out of what ability he had and it’s easy to see why he has had such a successful career,” Tattan said.

Kevin Tattan, former Cork City strength and conditioning coach. Picture: Doug Minihane
Kevin Tattan, former Cork City strength and conditioning coach. Picture: Doug Minihane

It’s been over six months since Tattan left City and the now Wexford camogie manager is keen to start up a new business, something he hopes to launch in the next few weeks.

“The lockdown has allowed me to work on my new business venture called Pro Fit Soccer. My aim is to create an online platform that will give physical training resources for individuals and teams for different types of sessions. 

"It’s like having a personal strength and conditioning coach for those that cannot hire someone on a full-time basis.

“I’m very excited about it and hope to have content online in a few weeks.”

Russell Rovers' Kevin Tattan passes away from Kilbree's Sean Reale. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Russell Rovers' Kevin Tattan passes away from Kilbree's Sean Reale. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

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