Designing an Effective Training Program Part Two: Positional Breakdown

Here’s the second post in this series discussing Vern Gambetta’s sport analysis model and how it specifically applies to soccer. If you need to catch up, here is the first post in the series. This is the next step in his analysis model.

Understand the position or event in the sport:

Understanding a positional breakdown can allow you to add some specificity to training. There should be many universal trends between positions, but there will be some distinct disparities as well. A few qualities to consider could be speed requirements, strength requirements, etc.

A forward is not going to need the same specific qualities as a midfielder, as a defender and certainly not to that of a goal keeper. This is where some individualization in training or breakdown of position can become important. It has been reported that midfielders cover more distance compared with the defenders and forwards (1, 2, 4). Furthermore, strikers displayed faster sprint times than any other position while goal keepers and center backs displayed greater jump heights than any other position (3).

Do forwards need the same level of aerobic fitness as midfielders? Probably not. Forwards commonly need a higher combination of linear speed and power than midfielders and other positional players to create goal scoring opportunities.


1. Andrzejewski M, Chmura J, Pluta B, Kasprzak A. Analysis of motor activities of professional soccer players.?J Strength Cond Res. 26(6):1481-8.2012

2. Bangsbo J,?Norregaard L,?Thorso F. Activity Profile of Competition Soccer. August Krogh Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark.?Canadian Journal of Sport Sciences. 16: 110-116, 1991.

3. Boone, Jan; Vaeyens, Roel; Steyaert, Adelheid; Bossche, Luc Vanden; Bourgois, Jan. Physical Fitness of Elite Belgian Soccer Players by Player Position.?J Strength & Cond Res. 26 (8). p 2051?2057. 2012.

4. O’Donoghue, Peter;?Rudkin, Steven;?Bloomfield, Jonny;?Powell, Stephen;?Cairns, Graham;?Dunkerley, Anthony;?Davey, Paul;?Probert, Gary;?Bowater, James. Repeated work activity in English FA Premier League soccer.?International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport. 5 (2). pp. 46-57. 2005.

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John Grace is a coach at Athletic Lab Sports Performance Training Center in Cary, NC - USA. John has his CSCS, USAW Level 1 certification, USATF Level 1 certification and has worked as an assistant fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS.