Graham Cummins: Training late is best way to prepare for evening games

Most League of Ireland sides like Cork City hold sessions in the mornings even though their matches are usually 7.45pm
Graham Cummins: Training late is best way to prepare for evening games

Cork City players celebrate their second goal scored by Jack Baxter at Athlone Town last weekend. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

I often wonder is it better for League of Ireland clubs to train in the morning or in the evening considering that most games are played at 7.45pm.

Of course, for part-time clubs, it’s not an option to train in the morning anyway, as most of their players will have work outside of football during the day. However, for the likes of Cork City, Galway United, Shamrock Rovers and others that are full-time, would they have more positive results training closer to the time that they play matches?

As a player, I did both. I trained in the evenings during my first spell in the League of Ireland and in the mornings when I returned from my time in the UK.

If you asked me which one I preferred? The answer is the mornings. It would be a struggle to find a player that would disagree with me.

Training in the morning usually meant starting around 10.30am and finishing close to 12pm and even if I had a double session, I would be still finished at 2.30pm.

Training in the morning gives players the freedom to enjoy the rest of the day but when you train in the evening, you have to be mindful that you limit your activity during the day because you don’t want to be tired for training in the evening.

I played my best football training closer to the times of games. I always found it a little bit difficult adapting to training in the mornings during the week and getting my body used to a physical demand at a certain time, to then, go out and put my body through its most stress at a completely different time.

It might not be the preference of players or managers to train in the evenings, but it is probably more beneficial to train closer to the same time as a team would play.

Not only does training in the evening help a player get used to exercising at that time but also a player’s meal times during the week will follow a similar pattern to what times they eat on a match day.

Players wake up later on a matchday, meaning they have breakfast, lunch and so on, later.

But when teams train in the mornings, players would eat their breakfast earlier and lunch would be provided straight after training.

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Training in the evenings gives the club the option of telling players they are part-time when in truth, part-time clubs train just as much as full-time clubs. Part-time clubs still train, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and have a cool down after games.

By a club claiming they are part-time, it might give them an upper hand when negotiating a contract with a player. When a player walks into a meeting to discuss his wage, even though that club train just as much as a full-time team, just at different times, once a player hears the word ‘part-time’ he knows he’s not going to walk away from that meeting with a hefty salary.

However, if the club claim to be full-time, a player will certainly demand a lot more, even though the same demands are being asked of him if the club were part-time.

City, Galway and Shelbourne are the three full-time teams in the First Division. City don’t have the wealth of Galway and Shels and because of their location, it makes it more difficult for them to attract players. 

Are City depriving themselves of quality players because of the time they train? Could they attract more local players by a switch to evening training?

It’s difficult to convince players who have a stable job to quit to become a professional footballer on similar money. Especially considering the uncertainty of living from contract to contract and knowing that a career as a professional footballer does not have a long lifespan.

That doesn’t just apply to players but coaches as well. It took City over two months to fill the assistant vacant assistant manager role.

Was that because their hiring process is so thorough it took so long for them to find the right man or was it because of the difficulties trying to convince someone to quit their stable job to take the uncertain role of being a full-time coach in the League of Ireland? 

I would have always chosen to train in the mornings as a player but now, believe there are more benefits for League of Ireland clubs to train at night.

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