Back when he was in charge of Bayern Munich, Germany manager Hansi Flick had called for the need to make use of load management at club and international level to protect player welfare. At the time, Die Roten star striker Robert Lewandowski had suffered a knee injury in the international break which forced him to miss the season-defining UEFA Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain.
Now that he has become a national team coach himself, it’s nice to see Flick put his ideas into practice. Speaking with German media reporters from ‘Marbella Football Center’, the 57-year old elaborated on the importance of managing player workload:
“That is the biggest task of a coaching team,” said Flick (via Sport1). “In the last two years, the load was enormously high because of the corona pandemic. After a long season, it’s a challenge for the players to add another two weeks because of the Nations League.”
Elite players playing for elite European clubs have been severely overworked due to fixture congestion caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the accommodation of FIFA World Cup in the middle of club season has only intensified their workload this year. In order to decrease the risk of fatigue and injury, it has become increasingly important to keep track of the physiological stress a player endures during the season. Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool FC, for instance, has partnered with California-based artificial intelligence firm Zone7 for assessing optimal workload and predicting when players are at risk of injury.
Flick further explained that the fitness regime will be tailored as per the needs of individual players.
“Individual load management is very important,” added Flick. “We discuss this for each player individually in the coaching team so that they can deliver top performances again in the games and are 100 percent recovered. For some it might take two days and for others it might take three.”