1-2-1 Football coaching – the art and science of personal training

A special Blog Post by Danny Guthrie, coach at TFA.

I’ve had over 100 premier league appearances for various clubs including Liverpool and Newcastle United, I say this at the beginning not to brag but to share that I have seen (rather played) it all! Competing against some of the best players in the world, I learned from the best and the lesson was always the same, ‘ the best ones are also the hardest workers.’ The champions definitely are unbelievably talented but their work ethic and determination for constantly improving their game is the biggest asset.
Danny Guthrie

My name is Danny Guthrie, and for a delightful change, I share my thoughts on Football by writing (who would have THUNK!) What started as a sport, grew to be a passion, and later my life and identity – football has given my life meaning, and as I train to be a coach at TFA, UAE I am enjoying re-learning its glory all over again. Despite being a team sport, working with a player individually by designing sessions based on the players’ position, type, and attributes has become my passion. As I train, I notice aspects of individual players, from their physical strength to confidence levels and I think of how I was when I started. 

I have no shame in saying I was an average player in the premier league but even with saying that I overachieved. I loved that I was an overachiever, to me, it means I outworked, out hustled, and did more so many others were not willing to do. Everything about me physically was average in the premier league, size, strength, pace all these attributes were below the standard of the better players in the premier league. Technically I was at a high level, I don’t believe it was natural. It was repetition over years and years of practice and eventually investing in myself in a 1-2-1 coach. 

Don’t misunderstand me, I love taking team football sessions but I truly believe that a good team is made up of good players that play well together. 1-2-1 training, where a professional instructor guides a single individual through a planned and coordinated session is done with precision and strategy. There is something ineffective-almost-cute about kicking a ball a few hours a week with friends and hoping that it will improve your game. I myself spent thousands of pounds and spent hundreds of hours training just to make sure I could keep up with the better athletes I was competing against.

In many other sports, just like football, 1-2-1 training is standard practice. Among the top-level players of the EPL, la Liga, and the Bundesliga this has been the case for the last 10 years.  In the earlier days, this type of training used to be only reserved for pre-season or periods of injury but now players at the highest level are training individually during the season regularly. It has also progressed from gym-based work to actual football coaching on the pitch. 

There is no better example than arguably the best player the game has ever seen, Ronaldo. This is not my opinion I am more of a Messi man myself but it cannot be denied that Ronald’s work ethic, determination, and desire for improvement have inspired a generation of football players. I mean if the best player in the world is working harder and harder every year what possible excuse could you have as a football player not to only match but try and work even harder than the most talented.

Now, players in all these top leagues from Harry Kane to Robert Lewandowski to Jack Grealish have all invested in building a team around them which includes personal 1-2-1 coaches. How do I know this, my friend who trains them all was also my coach.

A wise old football coach once told me, as a football player you are a business and you are the CEO, so run it properly. Lebron James, one of the best NBA players of all time is estimated to spend 1.5 million dollars a year on his team to maximize his game. Facilities, doctors, physios, chefs, and personal coaches. As you begin to play at higher levels, the margins of winning and losing become smaller and smaller. The extra 1 percents and inches become more and more important.

When delivered with intent and precision 1-2-1 coaching can speed up development and elevate your game. Typical team training normally consists of a couple of sessions a week with the individual development of players being the priority of the coach, 1-2-1 shifts the focus to the individual. We can then get the isolated repetition of the key tactical, physical, and of course technical aspects which are imperative to maximize potential.

  • One of the most common reasons why people want to invest in 1-2-1 coaching is because they aspire to play at a higher level, working with an experienced coach on specific targeted areas of your game helps you gain the last, most precious 1 percent. With a personal coach, you are constantly being guided towards the goals and outcomes you signed up for, giving you a more meaningful experience.

  • It is a great way to learn and polish new techniques which get overlooked in team training sessions,1-2-1 can focus on mastery in game situations. The whole session is focused on the individual needs of a player, which might get neglected in team sessions. We all have individual differences when training in a team but in a 1-2-1 session, your pace and intensity are the measures of the intensity of each session.  
  • Also, for individual players football can open doors and enhance every aspect of life and that can only happen with the focus that 1-2-1 training provides. The player also gets the opportunity to set long-term goals and work towards them through a tailored program.
  • The 1-2-1 sessions are tailored to the individual and focus on improving weaknesses as well as the strengths of the player to ensure that their skill synchronizes perfectly in each game. With a personal trainer, it is easy to pinpoint weaknesses and begin working on them one by one and modifying the course of training.
  • Each session develops confidence in a player which is vital, creating a positive, fun, and hard-working environment can lift the confidence of any player.

1-2-1 coaching will never replace team training and it’s never meant to, it is there to supplement and work alongside team training, it is not a replacement. It is a catalyst that can make the difference between an ordinary player and a legend. Get in touch with us to discuss your football career.

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