Are You 22 Hours Short of Becoming A Footballer?

Posted by Gary Rafferty on 11-Aug-2017 07:38:38

How many youth players have you witnessed go from the rising superstar to hanging up their boots before they even reach their twenties? How many professionals look so promising only to slowly fade away or never perform as well as you know they can?

Personally, I have witnessed more than I can remember. There are many variables that can attribute to these unfortunate outcomes but there is without question a common theme.

Outside their 1-2 hour of daily training, people stop performing. 22 hours a day of thinking the hard work is over. You have to ask, do they want it bad enough?

What are you doing today to prepare for tomorrows performance?

Let’s break it down. For the most part, training sessions last roughly anywhere from 60-120 minutes daily depending on the sport and schedule of the individual.

During this time every player in the squad does a similar form of training. For the sake of the example let’s assume that all variables are equal. All have the same standard of coaching, same genetics, same training sessions and use of the same standard of equipment/facilities.

The reason I make it a level playing field is because we often hear all of the above as excuses from players as to why they can’t perform well or are being outperformed.

Now, if all opponents and/or team mates are exposed to the same 1-2 hours session every single day during their career, what is going to determine who consistently performs to the best of their ability during those sessions and even more importantly, competition time?

What is done outside of those training hours

Looking at the four pillars of performance; movement, mindset, nutrition and recovery it is obvious that all of these aspects can’t be effectively covered completely during a 1-2 hour session?

  • Can you move, have peri-workout nutrition, focus 100% and perform cool down/recovery methods in that session? Sure.
  • Can you do enough that the rest of the day has no bearing on your performance tomorrow? Probably not.
  • Can you reach your full potential by not focusing on the rest of the day? Definitely not.

Most athletes don’t give the remaining 22 hours as much respect as the 2 hour session and tend to have an excuse for their circumstances such as not being in the team, being substituted, finishing fourth or having a poor game.

Most tend to end up with niggling injuries, which they blame on luck or some other outside factor they couldn’t control.

In some rare cases this is true, but for the most part they don’t want it bad enough and haven’t treated their body or mind well enough to maintain high performance, avoid injury or recover from one.

"Michael would always do every single rep in the gym, every single inch of every warm-up; he made sure he ate every single thing right, did absolutely every single bit of pre-activation, was always in the gym with the fitness coaches and sports scientists, always did the hydration tests, did absolutely everything by the book and set an incredibly high standard not only for himself, but also in the dressing room.”

– Gary Neville on Michael Carrick

Players at the very top of their game still do extra practice, they eat foods that they know fuel their body for the energy demands of their sport. They recover effectively by sleeping well and doing extra recovery/regeneration sessions when others have the day off.

Most importantly, they respect the power of their mind just as much as their body. They take time to de-stress, focus on what is important to them, believed in themselves and took responsibility for their own success.

Some may argue here that the variables earlier mentioned are without doubt going to play a part in the development of a youth player and the success of a professional.

Sure, one individual can be technically better or naturally stronger, does that stop you finding a way to defeat them? Out work them, or at the very least attempt to match them?

You can have excuses or results. Not both.

The fact of the matter is that many players look for shortcuts or are happy with what they have already achieved.

They may say they want it but their actions prove otherwise. Very few are willing to do whatever it takes to become the best they can be on a daily basis. It is not by luck that those that do this become the greatest in the sport.

The minimum standards must be raised. With so many of the general population, in particular children, watching top athletes as the pinnacle of health and fitness it is essential that they see role models on and off the field.

Let them see what is possible with 24 hours of focus on performance. Let them attempt to emulate their role models to not only improve the standard of athletes but the standards of health and performance around the world.


Here are some basic tips to improve your performance outside of your training session – 90% of what we do is habitual. Practice good habits daily.

  1. Sleep a minimum 7 hours and get an afternoon nap in when you can. Keep your room as dark as possible and eliminate electrical devices and wi-fi from the room.
  2. Drink minimum 2-3L of water. Eat whole foods with a balance of protein, fruit/vegetables, complex carbohydrates and ‘good’ fats at least 80% of the time. Pre and post workout nutrition should always be priorities to fuel your body for optimal performance.
  3. Include additional daily movement, mobility and soft tissue work for recovery and regeneration.
  4. De-stress and visualize successfully achieving your life goals daily to develop a successful and healthy mind.
  5. Work on your weaknesses and improve your strengths daily. Be better than yesterday.

Topics: Football, Conditioning