Do you ever watch a football match and after seeing a big name make a basic mistake such as a mislaid pass or a mistimed tackle, think to yourself “I could do better than that”? If so, you may have underestimated how footballers at the highest level manage to stay in shape. A big part of being a top athlete is fitness, and making sure that they’re in perfect condition means that they’re able to play to the best of their abilities, but how do they keep fit?
At best, most footballers’ careers last for about 20 years, and that’s only if they stay relatively injury-free or eat and train right. Being such a short career, most footballers are compelled to get the most out of it before they succumb to the effects of the ageing process, so they perform a number of different exercise routines as well as train regularly, with older players who are able to play at the greatest possible standard when nearing their 40th birthday receiving plaudits from team-mates, fans, coaches and pundits alike.
One such player is Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs. The 39-year-old seems to have been around forever, and although his appearances these days are limited, he hasn’t been forced to drop down the divisions in the twilight of his footballing career like many others of his ilk. Giggs has prolonged his career by performing Yoga exercises, not to mention Pilates. Although neither is to everyone’s taste, they do improve flexibility and mobility, both of which are very important to any athletes, especially those over the age of 30.
Most modern-day footballers visit the gym regularly, whether it’s near their homes or at their club’s training ground. They perform running, weight training and stamina exercises, all of which are designed to help them build muscle in order to minimise the risk of suffering injuries which can take their toll on players over time. They also stretch before every exercise routine and warm up and warm down before and after each routine.
Many of the world’s biggest football clubs are able to keep their best players fit for as long as possible because they have great training facilities where players can practice, receive expert physiotherapy when injured or even do weight training. While established clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea offer those services, relative newcomers to football’s top table such as Manchester City are playing catch-up, but they are set to invest heavily in a new training complex.
Manchester City plan to spend a whopping £200m on a new training centre and reserve team stadium adjacent to the Etihad Stadium, hoping that it will be the envy of their major rivals. When complete, it will be easy to see why Manchester City could be favourites for every competition they compete in. However, good training facilities are only part of the reason why footballers are fitter than most other people on this planet. Dedication, timing and determination are all important too.