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Women's Football Everything You Need To Know About Strength & Conditioning

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 03 June 2016
Hits: 7579

As most Australians are well aware, in recent years there has been a great deal of publicity around our great game of Australian Rules Football and the possibility of creating a National Women’s League. Fortunately over the past 5 – 10 years, the prevalence of young women playing football has increased and the need for a league allowing these girls to continue playing football through their teenage years into adulthood has been recognized.  It is because of this that there is now almost 50 teams in the Victorian women’s football league alone, and similar to the men’s league, we now have a women’s youth team for the up and coming, and talented girls are now scouted to form our ‘Vic country’ and ‘Vic metro’ teams. And just like the guys, the need to improve your skills across many facets of the game is essential if you want to be one of the girls who makes it into the "big time". For this sport is growing so quickly, the need for conditioning and a professional approach to training will be as important as the skills part of the game.

How This Girl Used Strength & Conditioning To Help Her Make The State Team

This is a story from a young girl Lauren Szigeti who trained with us in 2015 and early 2016 with the specific intention of making selection for the State Team in the Women's Football League. (Lauren is on the left)

"My name is Lauren Szigeti, I'm 16 years old and absolutely love playing footy. I joined No Regrets with my mum a few months ago with one major goal set in mind; the u18 Victorian Metro Team.The amazing trainers at No Regrets got to know me, my body and my goals really well and set lots of small goals which all contributed to my main goal. I knew I had to improve my running and when I was told I could improve that without actually going for runs, I was all in!!The main things we planned to focus on my glute strength, leg power and agility and I was always excited for gym day to come because I knew I'd walk in to a fun, happy environment and walk out with even better results week after week.After a couple of months I definitely noticed improvements in my speed, changing direction and power, all critical assets needed on the field.Eventually, selections came and I found out that I made the team!!! So nationals came around -  not only did I play in the team but my running had improved that much that I even got to play in the midfield, we were undefeated, got to play the grand final on the MCG as a curtain raiser to a Friday night game which was the most amazing opportunity of my life, and to add to that, we won 95-0! I honestly dont think I would have had this amazing opportunity without the help of the No Regrets team, I couldn't thank them enough!!" - Lauren Szigeti

What Did We Do To Help Her?

This is where an intelligent approach to training is required and far too often in sports, coaches with little experience with conditioning, (and even the players themselves) tend to use an approach of just "flogging" the players with endurance training of excessive running. Strength exercises usually are done with poor form and again taken to the limit of fatigue with endless reps in the belief that if it nearly makes you puke it must be good as it is making you fit.

Understanding that to become great at any sport, you need a much better plan than "go hard go home" style. We find for Women's Football and the girls need several things.

  1. Learn how to move efficiently - For efficient movement prevents injury but also enables other skills to be fully developed and enhanced. Deficiency in any foundation movement becomes a weakness!
  2. Improve Stability, Strength, Speed & Power - And importantly in that order! This is where good foundations are made and what sets you up for great success long term!
  3. Focus on Complex Coordinated Sport Specific Movements and Agility - Learning how to keep your feet in a contest, explosively change direction and make a complex decision can make the difference between making the team or missing out!

With Lauren we had to complete a thorough Sports Specific Assessment to find out her strengths and weaknesses and determine exactly where we needed to start with her conditioning program. We already knew what movements and abilities we needed for the game, we have a Trainer on our team Dylan Vizzarri who played VFL Football and still plays Division 1 and we have trained many VFL players over the past 8 years and even ran a specific program for these players for many years. See Football Specific Training Program. So when it came  time to putting Lauren through her paces we were all very excited.

Read our article on what The 8 Must Haves For Sports Training are.

Watch the video below to see exactly what our assessment process for Sports involves.

Why Females Need Strength Training More Than Males

It is funny that you often see the guys spending so much time on the weights when they already have a lot of muscle mass and strength. Often they overdevelop this to their own demise as it makes them too slow and heavy. However with the girls we see them spending way too much time with cardio training and using strength exercises with an endurance focus. Usually the technique is compromised and their efforts actually contribute to making them worse instead of better! Females need strength more than males for their physiology is a much more weaker structure, with more flexibility and less stability. Add on top of this, with the anatomically wider pelvis, known as a "Q angle" poor alignment with the hip, knee and ankle sets the girls up for dreaded injuries in the lower limbs. Having a strength training program to help correct these poor alignments and provide much more stability at the joints is absolutely critical. In terms of putting on mass it is very difficult for the girls to do this, as they lack the one thing you need the most to do this - testosterone(females only have 10% of the testosterone of a male).

Research has shown that female sports players are 8 times more likely to tear or rupture and ACL than a male!

Read our article on ACL Injury Prevention for more information about this.

Key exercises for the girls should focus the most are Single Leg Squats & Lateral Lunges and rotational movements.

We determined very early with Lauren that her strength, would be her strength and power. We worked on making this the best it could be, so it would be her "weapon" as such. The missing link for her would be for us to improve her overall agility, change of direction and speed. Like many guys who are strong and powerful, usually in a straight line they are fine, but they lack that real "zip" to move explosively sideways and be evasive. After improving her movement and balance we could then focus on teaching her various drills and skills on how to do this and each session try to raise the bar on her ability to do this more efficiently and faster. The focus on all these skills was always on QUALITY over QUANTITY! Remember I said at the beginning this is where many people get it seriously wrong. The focus on too much repetitive low intensity repetitious movements that ultimately lead to the person becoming slow. Sure they last a long time and get a bit puffed out, but unfortunately the game of Football is really a game of endless 20m-40m sprints at HIGH Intensity! The exact opposite of how most people train!

This is also why most strength programs fail because the copy Body Building methods that are designed to make people look good, not move well, are performed slowly, not explosively and no emphasis on balance, speed or agility. Lauren was so easy to train as she had great coordination and movement skills that we could already progress to many complex movements.

Some of the exercises we used feature in the videos below.

Do You Need More Ideas?

I suggest if you want great results like Lauren to get in touch with us as soon as possible and we can help put together a specific to you conditioning program. Fill in the form at the bottom of the page to schedule a Free Assessment.

And to help you out even more you can get some great Free Reports below.

These reports include many of the important exercises, methods and programs we use everyday with professional athletes from all sports.

What If You Just Want To Have Some Fun Using Football Exercises?

What if you don't want to reach the heights of State level but enjoy the game of football and achieve some of the great benefits with regards to fitness? Recently we started combining some Football drills into our group training. This actually was not our idea but the AFL's idea with a program they called AFL Active. No Regrets Personal Training is a Licensed provider of this program. I think this is a great concept and can make training fun. I don't know how many people tell me they don't do weights because they find it boring. Well by incorporating many of the sports skills and drills into a functional weight training environment is extremely fun, and might I mention challenging.

Watch the video below of some of the concepts we use in our AFL Active Fitness classes.

Our classes run on Monday & Thursday at 6am and 7pm and cater for both girls and guys.

Book In For A Free Consultation

If you live in Melbourne and would like to find out more about our specific training for Womens Football click the image below to organize a time.