'We have to adopt a new fitness training philosophy in India' - India's Technical Director Robert Baan

Goal 2013 held in Delhi saw India's technical director of football Robert Baan dismiss the fitness regimes used by clubs, as it had dire repercussions on the national team players.
National football technical director Robert Baan today lashed out at the tendency of club presidents to dictate terms to the coaches regarding fitness training methods and said it has cost the Indian team dear, with so many injuries having affected the team.

“A club president must be a rich businessman but he would not know about football practices. If he has signed a coach, he should be allowed a free hand on how he wants to train his players,” Baan said.

“It is unacceptable that a president makes a phone call to the coach or goes down to the field, to tell the coach to have two training sessions in a day, which is absolutely unnecessary,” the Dutchman told reporters during a media interaction with renowned fitness conditioning coach and countryman Raymond Verheijen here.

Baan felt that the faulty fitness measures used like static stretching and unnecessary long hours of practice have led to so many injuries to members of the national team.

The Dutchman was pretty shocked on coming across the injuries as he commented “I have never seen so many anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in my coaching career as is the case of the Indian players. There have been so much of unnecessary fitness training practices (at club level), which has affected the national team."

Baan who is the author of 'Lakshya 2022', whose aim is to help India qualify for the World Cup in 2022, further commented on the issue saying, "It will have to be stopped and we need to have a common approach in fitness training if the national team has to achieve results. That is why Raymond Verheijen is here.We have to adopt a new training philosophy in India".

Verheijen dismissed many of the fitness training methods of the Indian clubs.“You don’t need to have twice a day training and you don’t need to train for too long, say two or three hours. The practice world over is 75 minute intensive training, that also training with football in match situations and not static training,” said Verheijen, who has worked with top European clubs like FC Barcelona and Chelsea, besides also serving as assistant coach of top national sides.

“Long training leaves the players exhausted and if you do training without recovering from your earlier fatigue there is no point of having the training. In football, less but quality training is better", mentioned the Dutch national.

The experienced trainer disapproved  of static training and felt that it made the muscles lazy and restricted the explosive football actions required on the field.

“Out of 90 minutes of play, actually a player needs 60 minutes of explosive action. With static fitness training your muscles becomes lazy and cannot perform explosive actions. Static fitness training methods are simply a waste,” he said.

“You need training with a football and not without it. You need to learn tactics and techniques in match situations. That teaches the players the coordination and decision making in match situations.” he mentioned.

Verheijen further felt that small footballing nations should not compensate their tactical and technical deficiencies with better fitness levels.

“It is a fallacy that small football nations should compensate their tactical and technical deficiencies with better fitness levels. The most important thing in football is decision making and playing together so that there is co-ordination and communication among the players" he added.

“The second is your tactical and technical soundness and the third is physical fitness. So fitness training is an integral part of training but not the most important. You need to be physically fit to control the ball and execute the plans but there is no use of being fit if you do not have the correct tactics and technique.” said the former Wales assistant manager.

The Dutch national felt that it would be better for former players to become fitness coaches rather than fitness experts who don't know much about football as he commented “It’s better if former footballers become fitness coaches. Because, a specialist fitness coach will want to speak in their language like aerobic, anaerobic training and not football language and the head coach and players would not know that language".

Verheijen felt that fitness coaches should be able to speak in footballing language for better understanding. The Dutchman further said that there were no plans of a foreign coach coming in to train Indian players and rather felt Indian coaches should be trained by their western counterparts, for better understanding between the coaches and players.

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