INTERVIEW WITH BART CAUBERGH (English version)
One of my goal in 2018 is start on szachimat.com new project. Some of articles I will put in English version. The first is interview with Bart Caubergh.
I met Bart during theWorld Football Academy Mentorship in Amsterdam in 2016. From that moment I am observing his career and I am sure that he will be a top coach. I know that he is a person who develops every day. People like Bart inspire me a lot. Our conversation is really useful for me as a coach and for my coaching knowledge. Maybe you will also take some information from this interview!
One thing is for sure!
Player deserve better coaches, so….
Have a nice read!
- Could you tell us something about your job? Is it depended on your cooperation with head coach? or you have your own suggestions? What are you responsible for? Could you tell polish coaches something about your career?
Since I signed my first professional contract as a Football Fitness Coach in 2011, I’ve worked in 6 countries and 3 continents. In KRC Genk (Belgium), Al Jazeera (UAE) and Krylia Sovetov Samara (Russia) I assisted the Belgian manager Frank Vercauteren. I also assisted the Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz with the Iranian National team during the successful World Cup 2014 Qualification campaign and the Dutch manager Mario Been in APOEL (Cyprus). I currently am a Fitness Coach in the staff of Darije Kalezic for Wellington Phoenix (New Zealand) that is competing in the Australian A-League.
Everywhere I’ve worked I’ve introduced the Football Periodisation Model. First the team periodisation and later also the individual and rehab periodisation. In Genk I was also responsible for the academy periodisation. The philosophy is clear, the application is always different because you have to deal with different external factors in each situation. What is the playing style the coach wants to play? Who are the players: older players, younger players, new players from a lower level, new players who didn’t play in their previous clubs, players after injury, etc. Everyone needs a tailor-made individual periodisation plan within the team periodisation.
Do you have to travel a lot during the season, how long is the off-season, how long is the pre-season, are there many midweek games, is there a winter break, is there a play-off system, are there changes in temperature during the season, do you have to deal with time differences, are you able to go on a pre-season camp, what is the quality of the training facilities, how big is the squad, is there also a B-team, …
I also closely work together with the medical staff for the strength training and I overview the nutrition and recovery strategies.
2. When you are planning whole week what are the most important things/factors?
Always take the full season as a context, because you then know how many games you will play; you have the best overview in how many weeks you can plan a Football Conditioning session; how many weeks you will have a midweek game etc.
The Periodisation Model is a tool to make your team top fit and keep your players injury free. Top fit means when your team is able to execute the playing style for 90 minutes. To develop the team you need, you need all your players on the pitch during the training sessions and (friendly) games.
The starting point in your week planning is always the previous game and the next game. Keep in mind how many days you have in between and when you will travel.
The 3 first principles of periodisation are:
1. Game – recovery training – off: on the day after the game you plan a recovery training for all players who played more than 30 minutes. All other players can do a Football Conditioning Training session. The second day after the game is a free day. Players can recover either from the game or from the conditioning session.
2. Tactical training – tactical training – game: the last two days before the game you plan tactical training sessions (No conditioning).
3. Free day – tactical – football conditioning training: after a free day, players need time to restart their engine. That’s why you plan a tactical training after a free day and a football conditioning training session the day after. Your football conditioning training session is at least 3 days after the last game and at least 3 days before the next game.
- How tactical behaviours/game plan have influence on your weekly job?
Football is always the starting point in planning, so everything is related to develop the playing style. The coaching staff has a clear game plan and during the week you train this. Wherever in the world you work, the starting point always has to be the game!
If you analyze the game, players are constantly exchanging information with their team mates and with the opponent. There is verbal communication (for example a player who is asking the ball) as well as non-verbal communication (for example running deep to receive the ball in the space). Communication is key (highest order) because a player makes a decision based on that info (e.g. passing the ball to the deep running player who is asking the ball in the space). Second most important element is decision-making based on game insight. When the player makes his decision, he must execute his decision based on his technique. That’s why 'execution of a decision with technique' is on the third place. Communication combined with decision making and the execution of a decision is what you call a football action. Football players have to do these football actions all the time, as frequently as possible because we want to play at a fast tempo and we want to maintain this for ninety minutes.
We can conclude that the combination of communication, decision making and execution has to take place as frequently as possible and as long as possible and that is what you call football fitness (4th order).
- You have a lot of experience. What things you are introducing when you start with new team?
First of all, I want to have as much information of the team and the players as possible. On team level, I want to know what they did during the last weeks and months, because a new coach can mean a new training and playing style and that can be an overload for the players. You want/need all the players on the pitch every day to develop the playing style, so you don’t want injuries! During the first training sessions, observation is key to analyze the strong and working points of the team and the players but there is no better test than the game.
I have an individual meeting with all the players to get as much information as possible (about their career, their last season, their injury history but also about what they are currently doing for strength training, nutrition, their sleep habits etc.) Step by step, I will introduce all the possible and logical performance and recovery strategies to make sure the head coach can work with a fit and fresh group of players.
- In Poland in most leagues we are after 13-15 games so we have first signs of fatigue… how deal with it?
It’s best to analyze the training process of the last days, weeks and months. That’s where you will find the reasons why players are not fresh, why they accumulate fatigue or why teams are struggling in the last part of games. Focus on a gradual build up, focus on long term team development and avoid that players do too much too soon.
Also analyze the performance during the games: are your players top fresh when they start the game? Are your players lacking freshness at the end of the game?
The game is always the starting point to prepare the training program of the team.
If you are in season and you still conclude that your players are not fresh or that they struggle to maintain the tempo during the game, focus on regaining freshness. Focus on quality above quantity, plan shorter and less training sessions but better ones.
Only plan tactical training sessions in the last 48 hours before the game as a preparation, don’t plan conditioning sessions in the 72 hours after the last game.
- Paco Seirullo said: „fitness in football doesn’t exist” what is your opinion about it?
If I give you my opinion, it means that it will be subjective and we can debate for hours. Always put it in perspective and create an objective reference. Go back to what ‘fitness in football’ is, terminology is important because everybody needs to speak the same language.
Like I explained in a previous question: a football action is communication – decision making – decision execution. Fitness is ‘only’ the 4th layer and you want that players are able to do ‘communication – decision making – decision execution’ more often (higher tempo) and for as long as possible (90 minutes).
- Can we talk about application in training? In Poland most professional teams have daily two sessions. Is it optimal?
Football is an intensity sport (speed of action sport) and within an intensity sport it’s about improving the quality of a football action. When you talk about the quality of a football action .. you want a better action, for example passing. Each action had 4 time-space characteristics: at a certain position on the pitch, at a certain moment during the game, in a certain direction and with a certain speed. So a better action (for example passing the ball to your team mate) means improving the position/moment/direction/speed of the action.
If you analyze the game, players (at a higher level as well at a lower level) do the same actions (passing, creating space, etc.). The difference is the speed of the action: there is less space and time at a higher level to execute the football action. You have to prepare your players to do the same actions but with less space and time. That means that it’s not about more training sessions or longer training sessions (doing more of the same) but it’s all about better training sessions.
To have top quality during each training, players need to be able to execute every action 100% so you need „fresh” players. When you have double sessions, players are insufficiently recovered from the first training session. Fatigue and especially the accumulation of fatigue are the biggest enemy of a football player and the biggest risk factor for injuries so you need to avoid fatigue! You need quality instead of quantity, better training instead of more training and one training session a day.
8. You worked in lot of countries. How external factors have influence on your job? Could you tell us about changes that you was forced?
Every continent, every country and every club has its own external factors. These can be the same in different places but the way to deal with them is different. Make an overview of all external factors and all possible solutions or strategies how you can deal with it. Keep it simple, do the most important things first and think logical.
If you have to travel a lot for away games, it has no sense to blame the external factors. The external factors are facts but you can influence the way you deal with it. Look for the best performance and recovery strategies (for example when you have to play or train in hot or cold circumstances).
- What is the best injury prevention for fotball players?
Football coaches who have a deep understanding of planning training sessions. Doing the right things at the right time with the players and the team. Communication between the coaches, the medical staff and the players is very important. Everybody has to understand the process and everybody has to work in the same direction. The team periodisation is the starting point. All other information can help to fine-tune this process like the communication from player to staff: every morning players give feedback about their wellness: how did you sleep? How do you feel? Do you have pain?
Communication from the technical staff to the medical staff: a clear overview of the weekly planning, the training sessions and the demands in order to have the best possible individual training program within the team program: which players have to do less, different or more?
Communication from the medical staff to the technical staff: are there players struggling with some little niggles, are players doing off pitch what they have to do, the planning of the rehab, etc.
10. How you learn and develop us a coach?
I live to be a lifelong student of the game. I love travelling the world and I always try to meet the best coaches and experts in football. Since 2009, I closely work together with Raymond Verheijen. I spend an average of 2 weeks a year with him and I attend the courses of the World Football Academy.
In my life and in my coaching career, I have 2 mentors: Raymond Verheijen is the person who I’ve always consulted everywhere I have worked and Frank Vercauteren, who I assisted in 3 countries (KRC Genk in Belgium, Al Jazeera in UAE and Krylia Sovetov Samara in Russia) and during almost 200 official games. In 2010, he gave me the opportunity to become a fitness coach in his staff in KRC Genk when I was only 26 years old!
Besides that, I was (and still am) lucky to be able to work together with head coaches with a lot of international experience like Frank Vercauteren, Carlos Queiroz, Mario Been and Darije Kalezic.
I have created my own 'Team behind the team behind the team' over the last 10 years. The medical and technical staff is the team behind the team but I also look for different expert worldwide to support the team (for nutrition and supplement advice, better sleep strategies, optimizing biorhythm, better rehab training, etc.) This international network of experts keeps me up-to-date with the latest information to improve performance and recovery. It’s looking for this 1% extra to become better (for a player as well as for a coach).
Thank you Bart. I wish you would be better than you was yesterday!