The Secret To Improving Players? Less Is More!

Quality and not quantity is the secret of successful coaching, according to Raymond Verheijen.

The 39-year-old, Assistant Manager to Wales boss Gary Speed, believes it is vital that clubs at all levels understand players improve “because of better training, and not because of more training”.

“Less is more,” says Verheijen. “If you do the same exercise more frequently in a week, that’s more of the same. What you really need is better training, which means within the exercise you have higher demands.

“For example, first you do a certain exercise on a certain pitch size, and then you make the pitch size smaller, and then smaller. The same exercise but less space, less time, increasing the demands, and that is how you improve players.”

Raymond Verheijen Talks Periodisation With Coaches

Raymond Verheijen Talks Periodisation With Coaches

Verheijen insists football is a game of intensity, not endurance, and that more coaches should recognise this when preparing their players for the season, or even just the week ahead.

Over-training can lead to fatigue, which affects a player’s ‘speed of action’ and increases the likelihood of injury. Players should always be fresh, as well as fit.

The controversial Dutch coach recently linked up with long-time cohort Guus Hiddink again to launch the UK Football Academy, which aims to share best practice among elite and grassroots-level coaches.

Verheijen explained that Hiddink sees the UKFA and its Dutch version as a way of giving something back to the game, which is why coaches at all levels are welcome to attend. He said: “Too often it seems you have to work at the highest level before you can meet the best people.

“We say, if you want to go to the highest level, you can meet the best people. We believe this will help more people grow and get to the highest level, and ultimately at that highest level you will get better people.

UKFA Coaches Raymond Verheijen and Guus Hiddink

UKFA Coaches Raymond Verheijen and Guus Hiddink

“When I spoke to Guus Hiddink in 2008 about this idea, first of all he was thinking about his legacy and giving something back to the game, in a way that a lot of people can benefit from it. He said he didn’t just want to give something back to the elite in football, I want to give this to as many people as possible in football.

“That was how he described it and so we agreed to develop a coach academy, in which we bring the best experts from all over the world to the Dutch Football Academy, the UK Football Academy, or wherever. Let’s make it accessible not only for the top people, but for everyone.”

The UKFA is currently holding a mentorship on ‘Periodisation in Football’ at Molineux, and next February will stage its first national symposium at the Emirates Stadium. Verheijen, Hiddink, Speed and Sam Allardyce will be keynote speakers, with sessions specifically set aside for grassroots and amateur coaches.

Delegate places for the UKFA’s ‘Meet the Elite’ symposium are priced at £145 + VAT. For further information or to book places, visit

3 thoughts on “The Secret To Improving Players? Less Is More!

  1. Wow that event has an impressive lineup. Mite have to check that out :)

    Do you have any more info on this Verhiejen’s coaching methods such as exercises with the right intensity or schedules etc etc???

    • Hi Tommo,

      Check out his book Conditioning For Soccer (Amazon Link) for a detailed view of the principles Verheijen advocates. Although the book is now 15 years old, all the core ideas such as variable loads, specificity of practice and football-based conditioning exercises are covered. The first review on the page linked is spot on too.
      In addition I’m hoping we can get him on our podcast in the near future. If we can then I’ll ask about each of these concepts – and how they can be applied at grassroots level – in detail.
      Thanks for comments.

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