Mario Goetze, FIFA World Cup, 2014

5 Reflections on the Football World Cup

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The Football World Cup just ended with all its ups, downs, elations, deceptions, tears of both of joy and sorrow.

Of course, everyone has a take on what really happened. Here are some observations I have made on this most watched sporting event :

1. You can’t always win, but you can always learn and grow

Two weeks ago, when I wrote about how to improve strength and conditioning for football, the feedback on Facebook degenerated to why England “really” did poorly. There were more excuses than a pregnant nun. However, on a more positive note, I now have more British fans who really want to learn and are open to exploring what went so wrong again. The point of the article was how to improve S& C for football, and a lot can be done to do it.

2. Strength and conditioning needs to be implemented when they are young. Be patient.

The strength training and nutrition counseling has to start early. For example, one of my top German students Daniel Knebel, using my methodology, did it with Oliver Hüsing who I coached from the U17 and who has signed a pro Contract with Werder Bremen this season. He also help Biran Behrend go from HSV U17 to Rapid Wien Austrian First League. He also prepared Raul Albiol from Real Madrid for the 2012 EM and improved his market value by 5 Million Euro when he was sold to Neapel.

3. Muscle mass helps with the acceleration.

Football games are won by controlling the ball. Who gets to the ball first wins. The Germans were the biggest team, thus could get to the ball the fastest. Duh! This is mainly the case, because the Germans tend to be large but show a lack of muscle mass.

Hummels and Boateng are amongst the biggest inside defenders in the World Cup. They are now the best, and world champions. They could be even better if they would have even more muscle mass and more strength.

A Blutgraetsche (blood tackle) impacts the game more when it comes from a gorilla than from a macaque.

As Charlie Francis used to say : « Looks right, flies right ! »

The best way to get anyone to accelerate is to develop absolute strength and functional hypertrophy, not running with parachutes…


To quote Olympic Bronze medalist Carmelina Moscato : « There are typically three components to a well-rounded team’s strategy and tactics; Control, Power and Precision. Having muscle mass helps primarily with Power and Precision, secondarily/consequently with Control. Power is the ability to impose yourself on the opponent, keep them as far away from your goal as possible and win your individual and collective battles in the air and on the ground.

Muscle mass, explosiveness and a battling mentality will help in defensive strategies such as pressing the other team to cough up the ball. Hard tackles always set the tone for a game and allow players to regain the ball and muscle mass will, yes, allow keep it. However muscle mass will only help you shield the ball, vision and awareness, quickness, and agility will be the primary reason a teams “keeps it.”

Precision comes into play for a team with counter attacking strategies. These are the teams that are set up to reach the opponent’s goal in 3 passes or less immediately upon regaining the ball. Muscle mass which helps with explosiveness will help players arrive first to the ball and either defensively or offensively.

Carmela Moscato

Examples of this are Suarez “the Vampire” (Uruguay) and Lukaku (Belgium) who are both built like beasts (one short one tall) and are often opponent’s worst nightmare as they have the ability to react quickly and beat defenders to the ball, especially in counter attacking moments. »

4. Nutrition is still abysmal

One of the top performing Formula 1 racing has banned gluten from the diet of their drivers since 1992. Why? It slows reflexes amongst other things.

Not convinced? Read Dr. Kelly Brogan’s piece on how gluten affects the brain and the body. The key to winning is controlling what you can. And nutrition is, besides Strength & Conditioning Training, one of the most important factors that you should control and optimize.

One of the best Swedish pro players was recently telling me that he had to fight the staff of a premiership team for having the right not to eat pasta. He had to show them blood work demonstrating elevated inflammatory markers.

5. Football is a sport of intangibles, however….

Many factors (drive, coaching, talent selection, pride, etc..) contribute to human performance, one being heart as demonstrated by the Costa Ricans.. However, when your physio twists his ankle from the landing of a jump for celebrating a goal, there is something wrong with the picture…

The question is not: what may we gain from proper strength and conditioning/nutrition? but more what are losing out on from not applying the best methodology? Getting a winning edge does not make you a bad person.

One of the smart-ass comments I got from a Brit was that being Canadian disqualified me from knowing anything about football. Interestingly enough, it was the London Olympics Bronze medal team from Canada that smacked the Brits and the French out the Games. More interestingly, Canada when compared to Britain, has less players to choose from, far less fans & financial support, and far less opportunities to compete internationally. The only thing Canada has more than Britain is snow, and that does not help.

At the end of the day, the quality of the football game can still improve vastly by changing its attitude and commitment towards strength & conditioning and nutrition.

Seize the day,


Coach Charles R. Poliquin

Here are some interesting links for further reading

André Sander, Michael Keiner, Klaus Wirth, Dietmar Schmidtbleicher; Influence of a 2-year strength training programme on power performance in elite youth soccer players, European Journal of Sport Science, Volume 13, Issue 5, 2013

Ioannis Gissis et al.; Strength and Speed Characteristics of Elite, Subelite, and Recreational Young Soccer Players, Research in Sports Medicine: An International Journal, Volume 14, Issue 3, 2006

Keiner, Michael; Sander, Andre; Wirth, Klaus; Schmidtbleicher, Dietmar; Long-Term Strength Training Effects on Change-of-Direction Sprint Performance, Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
January 2014 – Volume 28 – Issue 1 – p 223–231