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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Planning your pre-season
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A good pre-season is a must for all professional players in the Premier League and Football League - but is also hugely valuable for all amateur and junior players.

For managers and coaches across the country, structuring their team's pre-season programme correctly can make a huge difference to their prospects for the season.

Reading FC Academy manager Eamonn Dolan will take you through a five-session guide of how he would prepare a team for the new season.

Just click on the tabs above for ideas to improve your team's training sessions.

Eamonn Dolan
Eamonn Dolan
Reading FC Academy manager


Regardless of age and ability the basic principles of a pre-season stay the same.

Every training session should start with a good warm-up but for the first one of pre-season I would probably make it a little longer than usual, perhaps 20 minutes.


I'd be tempted to lead the first part of this, with five minutes of jogging followed by five minutes of static stretching (which involves holding a position).

Follow this with another five minutes of jogging and five minutes of dynamic stretching (using speed of movement, momentum and active muscular effort to produce a stretch).

The jogging gives the players the chance to have a bit of a catch up if they have not seen each other for a while and allows you to make an initial assessment of the fitness your squad is in.

Running is good for aerobic conditioning but can hit the body quite hard, so I would not do too much of this.

After the warm-up set up a ball circuit. Players are always motivated by sessions with the ball - and not only find it more enjoyable but tend to work harder than drills that do not involve any ball work.

Mark off a square with each side four metres in length and position a player at all four corners. Use two footballs for this drill.

Dribbling drill

One player dribbles at his own pace from one corner to the next, where a player without a ball takes over and dribbles to the next corner.

Players can regulate themselves during the drill dependent on how fit they are feeling and a coach can see when a player is fatiguing.

There are lots of variations available using this square - for example if the players are looking in good shape you can always get them to dribble to two bases.

Next I'd consider working on basic skills. Split the players into pairs, one serving and the other working on his first touch. Work through all the key surfaces like the foot, inside and outside, both knees, chest and head.

Finish the session with a game, perhaps dividing your players into two sides but using a relatively small area.

When using a smaller area players can naturally take a rest if they are feeling tired.

Ensure the players warm down properly.


During the first week try to make sure that the players do not over exert themselves as their enthusiasm after several weeks off can often get the better of them.

Another key issue is hydration. This is really important. Make sure that all of your players have some kind of water bottle and are drinking water throughout the session. If they do not they will not perform at anywhere near the level they are capable of doing so.

  • Eamonn Dolan was talking to Paul Fletcher.

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