Brazilian Physical Preparation – World Cups and More

Tim Vickery is as always worth reading in full on Brazil’s preparations for South Africa 2010, but I wanted to draw your attention to the three crucial paragraphs. Because this is what Simon Clifford and Sir Clive Woodward have been saying for years, and this is what the English in particular have been slow to grasp (I’m hearing good things about Hibs’ new facilities, although I’m not sure that even those, or the new indoor centres in Glasgow which are equally encouraging, go anywhere near as far as the South Americans):

Shortly after the World Cup I interviewed Paulo Paixao, then as now in charge of Brazil’s physical preparation. He was understandably proud of the contribution he had made to his country’s victory. But with great nobility, he was desperate to stress that the merits were collective. “Brazil has a number of physical trainers who could have been in my place,” he said. “Nowadays , in terms of methodology of work, Europe is way behind Brazil, but the culture of physical preparation we have developed doesn’t get the credit it deserves. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because we’re judged in socio-economic terms, looked down upon because we’re a South American country.”

He had visited Juninho at Middlesbrough and couldn’t believe the amount of players who were injured. “They don’t seem to mind,” he said. “If one player gets injured they go out and buy another.

“Without carrying out tests you can’t draw up a work programme, and in Europe they hardly seem to do any. In Brazil all the big clubs have physiology labs. From the start players are dealt with in a laboratory situation. The young player goes through a battery of tests to find out what he needs to fulfil his athletic potential. What we do is focus on the specifics that a player requires, be it muscular re-enforcement, stamina or aerobic work, or addressing muscular imbalance. You don’t see this kind of work carried out in Europe”

All of this is eight years ago, Vickery says – and in the meantime, Paulo Paixao and a colleague have done work in Europe. Some of this sounds very Arsenal-like, but given Arsenal’s run of injuries – consistently very long even when you take x-rated tackles out of the equation – it isn’t working for them. Or perhaps Colney is mere mood music, or advanced for its time but no longer so current.

8 Replies to “Brazilian Physical Preparation – World Cups and More”

  1. It’s time for some tactical innovation. If you field a tall centre-forward like Crouch, at corner kicks he should carry a wee chap – Defoe? – on his shoulders to nod in the goals. They could practise it at the Spurs training ground. It’s just a pity that England have lost their best corner-kick specialist. I’m sure the only reason Stoke haven’t tried the like at the Delap throw-ins is that the other defences have proved so feeble against conventional heading of the ball.

  2. Acknowledging that you’re being tongue in cheek (and that I’m arriving at 11pm on an eventful St Patricks Day in Edinburgh) – I actually agree with you here in that I think your suggestion is actually LESS surreal than the reality of the utterly unprecedented Delap throw-in. And insofar as I am aware, the Delap throw-in IS novel and unprecedented. And, typically for British football, the Delap throw-in is Betjemanesque: not so much unacclaimed as unadopted. I used to be a political blogger, years ago, but the conversation in football blogging is more elevated, I find.

  3. Delap used to be partly a javelin thrower as a youth (I guess in the same way you can describe the Nevilles as partly cricketers in their youth) – I think part of the reason the Delap throw-in is not copied more is that it’s harder to do than it looks.

    Of course, Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn side got a lot of goals (particularly in their promotion year out of Division Two) off of long throws, but they didn’t have the Delap length or velocity to them…

  4. The Liverpool goalie has a wonderful one-arm throw. I wonder whether they’ve considered exercises for his left arm, and then getting him to try Delap-style throw-ins. Of course, they’d also have to give him sprint training for galloping back to his area.

  5. A better idea: when the goalie comes up to take the throw-in, he swaps shirts with one of his team-mates who stands in as goalie until they have a chance to swap back. Anyway, my point is that goalies are an under-used resource. They loiter about most of the time doing precious little – the throw-in is one way they could be more intensively used. Perhaps there are others.

  6. On a point of pedantry, Delap was not an innovation. Dave Challinor, of Tranmere Rovers, did this in the 1990s (and helped Tranmere to get to a League Cup Final and quite far into the FA Cup). He deliverd the ball quick and flat like Delap but often from even further out – it meant every throw in within the opposition half became an attacking option.

    I agree that the goalie is an under-used resource in football – the ‘keeper/sweeper idea is one that is rolled out from time to time but a keeper’s distribution is very important. Liverpool last year scored a number of long-ball goals because Reina’s throwing and kicking distribution is so good – admittedly, not so many this year.

  7. The young player goes through a battery of tests to find out what he needs to fulfil his athletic potential.

    Didn’t work for Ivan Drago! 🙂

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