The Complete Handbook Of Conditioning Fo Paperback – Aug 1 1998
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author clearly understands the science, the demands, and the culture of the sport. His writing style is is enjoyable, the book is logically laid out, and Dr. Verheijen has approached this topic with a wide lens that looks at the big picture of what is important rather than focusing on minor details.
This book, like much of Dr. Verheijen's work, has been translated from Dutch. Some of the specific scientific terminology has been "lost in translation" somewhat, but it is usually apparent what is meant when you look at the context of each discussion. The unfamiliar terms could prove to be more of a problem for those with less understanding of scientific principles.
I feel that this book is of best use for a football/soccer coach. Collegiate strength and conditioning coaches, for example, will find it helpful to further understand the demands of the sport, but may not be able to apply the majority of suggestions due to the constricts of college athletics. Also much of the ball-related conditioning presented could be ineffective at lower levels due to the technical ability needed to maintain the required intensity of work.
The main strength of this book is how Dr. Verheijen communicates the need to vary volume and intensity day to day, week to week, and phase to phase in all forms of training. This is a basic concept of periodization - something that he has since focused on in his research and presentations. It is really good to see basic (but very important) training principles applied to the sport as this is usually missed in soccer specific texts. Regarding periodization, Dr. Verheijen frequently refers to the Dutch professional model in which the season is split into two with a short break at Christmas. This leads me to recommend this text further to soccer coaches working at the collegiate level due to the similarities in year layout (fall season, Christmas break, spring season).
This book attempts to cover all practical areas of soccer conditioning and probably does so better than the majority of texts out there. Where it does fall short, however, is regarding strength and speed training. The author frequently states the importance of strength and speed in soccer. He also stresses that training the CNS is the key to improving these qualities, yet fails to communicate the role of gym based strength and power training in this process. Part of this is due to the age of the text, although one could argue there were far better strength training practices going on elsewhere in sports at the time than the machine based exercises illustrated here. Beyond that point, it is obvious that the author stands firm in his viewpoint that gym based gym strength training is not specific enough to improve the performance of soccer players beyond "general conditioning" early in the training year. His rational to this belief seems to be based on a limited understanding of what specificity actually is, and lack of knowledge regarding positive adaptations resulting from strength and power training. The Dutch & Scandinavian model typically does not embrace traditional strength training and so you may have to take advice from this book with a pinch of salt.
The abundance of photos showing poor / potentially dangerous athletic positions (valgus knees, rounded lumbar spine, etc.) concerns me, and reference sections are very "light". These issues and my criticisms of the strength portions are a shame because as a whole this may be a very helpful text to you, especially if used in conjunction with other specific speed and strength resources. The player and coach interviews are a refreshing change of pace, and the medical section at the end of the text, although possibly outside the sphere of "conditioning", is a nice touch. I wish that more US-based athletic trainers had the imagination to use late-stage rehab like the examples provided.
Update: Turns out Dr. Verheijen is not a Dr. at all - he did not finish his PhD at all and has falsely claimed to be one both for this book and also at his public presentations. This was not the fault of his publishers like he has since claimed (after being called out on this). He loses a lot of respect in my book due to this dishonesty.
I highly recommend it