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The article: ‘Total Fitness from the Land of Total Football’ highlights periodisation, the training philosophy of Dutchman, Raymond Verheijen; ‘a less is more’ approach to training that protects a football club’s most valuable asset, its players.

Quoting statistics from the PhysioRoom.com English Premier League Injury Table, top BBC Sports’ journalist, John Sinnott reveals that, during the weekend 4-5 December 2010, 108 top-flight players were injured. In an hour-long interview following a presentation at the UKSEM sports medicine conference at the end of last month, Verheijen told Sinnott:

"The objective of periodisation is to play every game with your best 11 players. First of all because you want to win, and secondly because the fans deserve to see the best players."

However, despite the fact that most English Premier League clubs use sophisticated computer and medical analysis to measure player performance and fatigue levels, the PhysioRoom.com EPL Injury Table reveals that, on average, one fifth of each club’s players are on the treatment table at any one time, with up to 11 of the designated 25-man squad unavailable at some clubs.

The 39-year-old Verheijen has an impressive track record, having worked with Guus Hiddink, Frank Rijkaard, Louis van Gaal and Dick Advocaat at three World Cups and three European Championships with Netherlands, Russia and Korea. In all these tournaments, the national teams suffered no injuries during their physical work outs.

Impressed by his work with Rijkaard, Hiddink and Advocaat, former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes also turned to Verheijen at the start of the 2009-2010 season. Despite initial scepticism, Craig Bellamy, whose name frequently appeared in the PhysioRoom.com English Premier League Injury Table, was impressed by the Dutchman’s approach.

When Roberto Mancini took over as Manchester City’s manager, he immediately instituted double training sessions, without regard for individual players’ age, injury history, playing position or physiology. Bellamy, and many other players, soon suffered injury. Now at Cardiff, Bellamy receives advice from Verheijen at his own expense.

Developed by Russian researcher Leo Matveev, periodisation is an approach designed to prevent overtraining and result in peak performance. Most clubs would claim that their fitness regimes are designed to achieve that aim, but Verheijen suspects it is not happening enough.

"If football is an intensity sport, then less is more and you have to focus on the quality of training instead of the quantity," stated Verheijen, who is absolutely opposed to double training sessions.

"Doing two sessions a day in pre-season...I really I don't understand, because all you are doing is exhausting your players," added Verheijen, who believes different types of players - young players who have just joined the first-team or experienced defenders - should each be following specialised training plans.

Verheijen firmly believes that if more EPL clubs followed his periodisation approach, fewer of their most valuable assets’ names would appear on the English Premier League Injury Table at PhysioRoom.com.

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