The role of the fitness coaches at PAOK Academy
In any youth academy, each age group has their own needs and goals, and their own parameters of fitness. Each and every move must be planned gradually, and with the aim of highlighting the elements that turn an athlete into a champion. And this is something that PAOK Academy knows very well.
The fitness coach is one of the most important jobs. The are the main cog of the «machine». They also provide those skills through which athletes will be highly trained in the field of fitness. They work in close collaboration with the support staff involved in the training of football players, and ensuring that they maximize their knowledge and development (soccer coaches, goalkeeping coaches, psychologists, medical staff, nutritionists, video analysts, caregivers, sports scientists and educators).
Here, we introduce you to the fitness coaches of the PAOK Academy:
Evangelos Alexopoulos – Under-19
«The daily improvement of the weaknesses that every footballer has in the elements of physical fitness is a daily part of the training process. The role of the fitness coach is to improve the players in the elements of fitness, and to control the burdens in the coaching process. Also, programming the elements of fitness in combination with the technical elements is an important part of a coach’s work.»
«The fitness coach controls the training load of the players with live recording via GPS devices, in direct collaboration with the coach. In simple Greek, every time we check how many meters a player runs, how many sprints, how many accelerations, how many decelerations, how much load the footballer has done.»
«Of course, on a daily basis, the technical staff prepares the training plan that will be implemented, while at the same time the programs are done in the gym and on the field on an individual and group level.»
Mert Isbilir – Under-17
«I feel lucky to work with the young players of the PAOK Academy because they belong to an elite group of athletes in Greece. This, of course, gives me more responsibilities, as our work must be at the required level in order for players capable of responding to modern football to emerge through the ranks.»
«In our time, in order to be considered successful as fitness coaches in professional football, we must ensure that every athlete has the technical skills, tactical knowledge, good psychology, good physical condition and mental ability, so that his/her performance and endurance is appropriate for any difficulty encountered. For this reason, training must be continuous so that young athletes can reach and maintain a high level.»
«We fitness coaches first work with the training team, and then with the medical team, with the occupational physiologist, the psychologist and the nutritionist. The season starts with medical examinations of the athletes. Obviously, our primary concern is that they are healthy. Then, on and off the field, we do some tests with the help of the occupational physiologist to see at what individual and group level they are. At an individual level, we identify weaknesses and do individual improvement training. If an athlete is, for example, short of the averages we set in terms of physical measurements, then the nutritionist helps us. After all this process, we plan the fitness trainings in the pre-season, during the season, and finally in the transitional period.»
Vassilis Bilis – Under-16
«A fitness coach, especially in youth football, has to take on a lot of complex roles; that of a fitness coach, occupational physiologist, psychologist and coach of course. Of course, at PAOK Academy we have the pleasure to enjoy significant scientific support from our occupational physiologist, psychologist, and nutritionist. And of course, we must never forget that in youth ages we are primarily educators, as we are addressing children and adolescents.»
«The job and goal of the fitness coach is to train young players on flexibility, agility, muscle fitness, and quality training in general. After all, the athletic goal is always to get the best out of each player and develop him/her into a front-line athlete. «The ‘moral’, however, is to be able to ‘graft’ a mixture of a nice person, a good student and a very good athlete.»
Vassilis Leftheroudis – Under-15
«The role of the fitness coach at youth level is considered more than important and multidimensional. That is, at the age when skills necessary for children involved in championships are rapidly increasing. In addition to physical condition, i.e. strength, endurance, speed, flexibility – which define it – the coach should train players to manage and control all of the above abilities.
«Beyond that, however, the psychological factor is just as important. Persistence and consistency for continuous effort and improvement are gifts that follow someone in all aspects of their life. The fitness coach is the one who will stand beside the players and support them, help with the pressure of matches and the training; they are the ones who guide them properly, so that they can manage to achieve their goals.»
Andreas Balabanis – Under-12
«During childhood, fitness training is carried out in a way that is enjoyable when performing exercises for the young players. At the ages of 7-12 years, the training unit aims to teach football, but also to have fun as we must not forget that young footballers come primarily because they love the game. In terms of fitness content, we focus on small competitive games to initially improve the endurance of our athletes. Then in exercises to improve speed, enriching the exercise book, usually with the use of a ball, which is clearly more interesting for children. Relay races and competitive games lead children to develop parts of fitness such as speed, agility, balance.»
«Usually at 7-8 years young athletes are able to control their body and react to stimuli, so that we can develop the reaction to their actions. The training of such an exercise book is important to be done progressively. We place this program at the beginning of the training, thus achieving, in parallel with the warm-up-activation of our athletes, a guide for prevention of injuries at a later age after 13-14 years, where usually due to physical development we usually encounter the first muscle pains.»
«What we have to take into account as fitness coaches is that we improve the elements of fitness in children through play. At a young age, the GAME side of thingd must have an unquestionably leading role!»