I used to had trouble piecing together interval training with my ball skill sessions. As a player at R.C.Hilversum we just did all interval training without the ball and did ball skills separately. It was felt difficult to combine the two. I have worked out the following system that works great for me. The three basic ingredients are:

Some examples:

Look at this exercise of Villepreux for an example of 1 to 2:

Group B starts, crossing the grid while passing, at the end passing the ball to group A, which brings to ball back to group C. So, 1 group works, 2 groups rest. You can vary the length of the grid, or the size of the group or even add a group to change the interval parameters.

One of my favorites is where I have the groups run between the 22m lines. I do 5 series of 4 runs in a 1:1 ratio. I allow the groups to cross in 12 sec's. or less and gives them a 90 sec. rest between the series. Mind you it is the drop-off especially in the last series that counts. If players are really unable to make the 12 sec. you know your schedule is too tough. Look back in Mc lean’s file to prepare for next weeks session. Either allow for more time to cross or do less runs or series. Use the pulse count (between 100-120) to start the next series. After a while you get to know the recovery well.

If you are not to well versed on heart rate

Heart Rate (HR) is a good measurement for monitoring fitness. Not so much high and low but more how quickly it goes up when doing an exercise and going down when resting.

How to monitor HR when doing interval exercises?

Everybody can feel their pulse or what I always do: let players feel their pulse in their neck. I have a cheap stopwatch and call "start" (a normal watch with seconds is
okay too)

Interval training is focused at having the HR going up and down: you should learn to choose your intervals to optimize this. Difficult to learn at first!

I do not think many teams have heart rate monitors so how do you find out what the optimum rate of your team is? This what I do:

Learn to select the work: rest ratio's for your exercises using the tables of David Mc lean's paper. Using his interval tables result in good lactic threshold raising intensity.

Another example

At the start of the season your team will need longer rest to make the crossovers in time: gradually the W:R will drop. Do not worry about giving the players lots of rest, focus them on quality work. Use the rest period actively: slow pace jog, ball handling skills, time to explain things, drink water, etc.


Link to the free download page to download Mc Lean’s fitness paper and the corresponding training session builder.