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"The intellectualisation
of football has
always foundered
on a simple problem-
-the players. Doing
all your most
rewarding thinking
with your feet seems
to dull the philo-
sophical impulse.
Unless, of course,
you are Dutch.
According to legend,
Europeans played
a moronic, muscular
version of the world's
game, until Holland
proclaimed its vision
of total football in the
1974 World Cup,
and enlightenment
dawned."

From:
Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football
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Raymond Verheijen: "Coaches are responsible for overcrowded sickbay"

Wednesday 10 December 2008

An important reason for the months long crisis at Feyenoord is the months long wave of injuries in Rotterdam.

Feyenoord coach Gertjan Verbeek even called his colleague at Ajax Marco van Basten about it and has asked the Erasmus Medical Center carry out a study about the increase in hamstring injuries.

But on short notice there's even more injuries.

Ironically on of the best known specialists in the area of of training buildup and periodization, Raymond Verheijen is already on the pay list of Feyenoord.

But he only works with the youth teams of the club.

Verheijen worked with Dutch coaches Frank Rijkaard, Louis van Gaal, Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat, went to five major international tournaments with the Netherlands, South Korea and Russia and recently presented his book 'Het periodiseren van voetballen' (Periodization in football).

Verheijen is amazed by the amount of injuries that several clubs are dealing with at the moment.

"I can not and do not want to say anything substantially about what is happening at other clubs or at Feyenoord. To be specific about that you need to be involved directly. Generally speaking I can say that a wave of injuries can be prevented easily by balanced training," he says.

In the 10 years that I have been in this line of work I have never experienced a wave of injuries in the teams I am involved with. Of course there is always the odd injury in football. That is inherent to the sport. It's normal to have one or two injured players in a group of twenty. When there is ten or twelve there is something wrong in the training build up."

"It often goes wrong during pre-season. Coaches focus on fitness to much in that period. What is? Building in automatisms and you can only do that when you are working with a steady group of players every day. But because they start working hard on fitness straight after the players' vacations they get injured and you can not train with the intended basic team. With good football training you gain enough fitness."

"I do not believe in many training sessions. In football it is important that every session has a high level of intensity. When you train very often you develop chronic tiredness and the quality of the training sessions falls. When you are tired but you have to strain yourself, your coordination is less good and you get injured quicker."

To monitor a player's tiredness the Omega Wave is on the rise, a machine that asserts to measure the load of physical strain a player can handle.

"In most scientific literature that machine is burned to the ground. The margin of error is too big. You can use it well to calculate the average load for a group of athletes, but it does not provide accurate information for individuals. Besides it is a well-known secret that players know exactly how to manipulate the machine by now. The Omega Wave is often used by clubs to show how professional they are, but I believe that using unreliable machinery is shows your amateurism."

"By calling out for research and other complicated measures clubs give the impression that it is very difficult to solve the problem. But in reality it is actually very simple. By adjusting the different training impulses to each other you get immediate results. Often when there is a wave of injuries they point the finger at at the medical staff, totally unjustified. There is only one person to prevent a wave of injuries and that is the coach. He has to provide a decent training build up, so that players don't start an intensive exertion when they are already tired. Coaches shouldn't consider a wave of injuries as something that happens to them as a result of bad luck or external factors, but as something they are responsible for themselves. Without that change of culture nothing changes, no matter what study you carry out ."

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