Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The World Cup Workout


Weights are out, mind control is in; ShortList's Ben Isaacs gets an elite coaching session...

Mick Clegg and son Mike have quite the pedigree. Mick was Manchester United’s power development coach for 11-and-a- half years, while Mike played for United, Ipswich, Wigan and Oldham before becoming Sunderland’s strength and conditioning coach. So we’re not exaggerating when we say few people know as much as these guys about how to prepare your body for football. Whatever your level, be it international star (if you’re an England player reading this in Brazil, good luck against Italy on Saturday) or five-a-side odd-man-out, here’s how you can make an impact on the pitch.

Start in the gym

Mike: All positions need different qualities, but there are a couple of universal attributes; single-leg strength, posterior chain strength and a strong core. To be a good jumper, sprinter or dribbler, your core has to be strong. A well-rounded programme that targets muscular imbalances, weak muscle groups and helps to increase robustness can counteract injuries, as well as increase sprint times, ability to change direction and jump height.

Boost ball control with your brain

Mick: To improve ball control you must master mind control. It’s the same in football at any level. You have to practise, practise, practise. Then, when the skill is needed under pressure, it might work for you. If you learn to see things early – like Paul Scholes was known to do – it masks a multitude of sins.

Perfect pre-match warm-up

Mike: This can start two or three days before the game with carb-loading, hydration and sleep. On match day, it will begin with a pre-match meal three hours before kick-off. Warm up on the pitch starts 45 minutes prior to kick-off, and the intensity builds towards game time. This should consist of a dynamic warm-up, position-based small games and stretches.

Recover like a pro

Mick: It’s essential to start your hydration and glycogen recovery, so food intake and sports drinks are needed. There is a one-hour window of opportunity to speed up this process, which is important if you’re playing again soon. Weigh yourself before and after a match, and for every kilo lost replace with 1.5 litres of water or sports drink.

It’s not about looking good

Mick: Footballers frequently think looking good is the thing to aim for – big mistake. Excessive unused muscle doesn’t help. If you want to be a stronger player you should be doing single-leg squats, single-leg Romanian deadlifts, plyometric jumps (double leg and single leg), pull-ups, core work and some derivatives of the Olympic lifts.

Need for speed

Mick: I see too much time spent on the ‘aerobic base’. Anaerobic actions are the key elements. A sprint, leap, overhead kick or tackle are what win World Cups. Jogging for 45 minutes at a steady pace won’t make you into an explosive player. Try sprinting for 50-60m, not in a straight line, back and forth in 10m segments, and do this six times. Then dribble a ball slowly for 30 seconds, eight or 12 times. The body will learn to sprint fast, recovering with a skill element.

Mick and Mike Clegg are fitness consultants for Powerade, the official sports drink of the 2014 Fifa World Cup; Youtube.com/powerade'



All 32 World Cup Flags Redesigned


Unmissable World Cup Group Games


Jose Mourinho on the World Cup


Nike's Latest World Cup Ad


adidas' World Cup 'battle' boots


Nike's 3D Printed Sports Bag


London's 20 Best Date Spots

Valentine's Day isn't too far away...

31 Jan 2017

Chart reveals the exact time supermarkets reduce their items

16 Dec 2016

Six reasons you should run an ultramarathon

Our writer on why you should take on this superhuman challenge

by Howard Calvert
13 Sep 2016

How to negotiate a life-changing salary rise

Baby we got your money

by Nick Pope
13 Jun 2016

How to make your cat more affectionate

Fiercely independent or just fierce, this is how you make them love you

by Emily Badiozzaman
19 Feb 2016

TFL Could Push Uber To Extinction With New 'Unfair' Regulations

30 Sep 2015

These Chat-Up Lines Will (Apparently) Make You Great At Online Dating

28 Sep 2015