After finishing today’s training - Team Manager Finke  

Comment from Team Manager Volker Finke after finishing today’s training
(Players played basketball today. It was very unusual practice, wasn’t it?)
For me, there was nothing unusual about today’s practice. Players can further develop their physical abilities through practicing various types of sports. These practices include many important elements for soccer as well. For example, correct jumping techniques, jumping ability, predictive skills required during the game etc. In this regard, I believe that today’s practice gave players good stimulation. Players for other sports often play soccer after their sport training just for fun. It is common among other sports players as well to have good physical stimulation by playing different types of sports. I am planning to play many different ball games such as basketball, volleyball, handball etc. with my players. Having said that, I don’t think I will introduce competitive swimming or weight lifting (lol).

(What is the training objective until the Ibusuki camp training?)
We will play more soccer. We will play different types of soccer using mini goals or imposing handicaps and new rules requiring players to “think”. We will also play competition style games among several groups of players just like we did today. It is certain that our training programs are gradually changing during this period from the Miyazaki training camp, whose main focus was to build physical strength to the Ibusuki training camp. During the Ibusuki camp, we will certainly be focusing more on strategies.

(Why did today’s practice consist of two sessions unlike the rest of the week?)
I would like to have two practice sessions once a week even though it will depend on the training match schedule. I will continue to have one practice session a day for the rest of the week. After the season starts, we will only practice in the morning as a general rule. But, what I am referring to here are team practice sessions. Players will have several training sessions in the afternoon as well but these sessions will be group sessions and not as a team. For example, attackers will have a group session under one coach and another coach will train defenders. Players lagging behind the rest of the team due to injuries or illness may participate in afternoon practice sessions. We will provide the best practice program for each player to bring the best results.
Looking at the world soccer trend, many teams have more than a few coaches. Our team also has six coaches in its team of trainers. This is because the importance of providing correct practice programs that suit individual needs of each player is recognized. Some people may think that soccer players have short working hours. However, afternoon hours are important for players. They can spend their afternoon for their physical conditioning such as having massages or engaging in individual body trunk strengthening training. Players can engage in various kinds of program activities. Good professional players’ daily routines are made up of morning team practices and additional necessary individual programs in the afternoon.
Alex’s current situation provides a good example in this regard. I have known of Alex for several years. After going through a serious injury, he has recovered well. I am very pleased that he now can even participate in game style practice. However, it is necessary for him to have good care of himself. He also has to have regular checkups since he has just recovered from his injury. After every practice session, our doctor and trainers check his physical condition. During the season, players like Alex who have recovered from their injuries can receive good care treatment in the afternoons. In regards to Alex, I will be so glad when he can make a complete come back and is able to play in real matches as our team unfortunately lacks sinistral players. However, his current condition still requires good care from doctors and trainers.

(Is there any intention for not allowing many breaks for water during the practices?)
There is no special intention. In my opinion, considering the current climate and temperature, I don’t think it is necessary for players to have water every 15 to 20 minutes. When players prepare themselves well in advance to participate in practice sessions, I believe supplying water once every 35 to 40 minutes will be enough for them.

(You said that you will let your team decide their captain.)
During the next camp, after having good discussions with players, I would like to explain why it is better for the team to decide who their captain will be. The number of teams adopting the same kind of approach is increasing in Europe as well. There will always be pros and cons. But, I want my team to understand why I think it is better for players to decide by themselves. I am also planning to talk about the duty and responsibility of the captain before the election. I do not want to ask my team members to choose their captain without giving any explanation to them. What is important is to make players understand the “meaning”. There will still be some time before the decision is made. For the time being, I will ask the oldest player on the pitch to take the captain role in terms of practice matches and so on.

(What kind of quality, duty and responsibility are you looking for in a captain?)
What I think is important is for the captain to have the respect and trust of many players. He also has to be able to speak clearly on behalf of the team. He does not have to be a yes-man who listens to my opinion. It is important for the captain to be able to speak on behalf of the team and tell their team director what the team thinks and what is happening among the team. It is also necessary for the captain to be able to speak about a variety of information and ideas to external parties. However, this must be done in a way that would always benefit the team. The captain must always act based on the notion of bringing benefit to the team. In Europe, of course, there are teams whose team manager appoints the captain. However, as I think it is important for the captain to speak on behalf of the team, I believe that asking the team to choose their captain will be the best way to decide.

(What kind of election would that be?)
We have a special election method. However, we cannot comment on it in detail at the moment. I will explain to my team first and after they elect their captain I may have a chance to comment on it. All I can say clearly is that with this method it is possible to reflect individual players’ opinions. It will not be like writing down a name of a player on a piece of paper and submitting it. My teams have always chosen their captains by using this same method except for one occasion and this one exception unfortunately did not work well. For that reason, I decided to get back to the original method of letting my team members choose their captain.

(Tatsuya had a different practice program during the Japan National Team’s camp. Have you ascertained this kind of information?)
We exchange a variety of information with the national team on a regular basis and I understand that this applies to every relationship between a club and the association. However, what we are doing at the moment at our club and what the national team is doing are quite different both in content and aims. While we are preparing for the league, they are preparing for the final qualifier. Of course, we ascertain information on what kind of practice they have. We must think of the appropriate practice programs for those players who play in the national team once they are back in our club so that they can be part of our team again. I hope that those players prepare themselves well for the final qualifier match and they play well for the team. I wish for their safe, physically sound return to our team. We are in the position of picking up detailed information such as what players did today, how many sprints of how many meters they did, what they are going to do tomorrow and so on. However, to be honest with you, I don’t think it is that important to know such details. They are just means and what is important is the goal, which is how players perform in matches and their condition after matches.

(Are you planning to see the national team matches held on 4 and 11 February?)
I am planning to watch the match on 11 February at the stadium. It will most likely be the case that I watch the match on the fourth on TV. In regards to the friendly match against Finland to be held on the fourth, it will be a difficult match for Finish players due to some challenges such as time lag. At the same time, it would be a difficult match for their club as well. I have a strong desire for the Japan National Team to do as well as they can. I also understand the difficult situations European players are put in. I have worked with many national team players from various countries for a long time. For example, some national teams such as from Georgia, Mali and Tunisia in a way found it difficult to play in international matches due to the schedule differences in the football season between their countries and Europe. We had an ongoing discussion with associations and in the end we came to the conclusion that while we send players to all official matches and provide full support for national team players, associations do not invite players for friendly matches. This has been effective for both clubs and associations. Players can show off their excellent performance playing for their club in friendly matches and make an appeal for the team manger of their national teams. We have tried to generate a synergistic effect. It is highly disadvantageous for national team players to leave their team for several days to over a week to play in national team friendly matches especially around the competitive season for winning a position in their club just like now. Players must have ambivalent feelings. While they want to play in their national teams, they are also worried about losing their position in their club during their absence and not being able to play in matches for six months.

(Are you planning to observe the national team practice sessions?)
Basically, I am very much interested in what kind of training my team players are having and I would like to find out about it. However, at the moment they are practicing for the important match against Australia. Based on my experience, I can say that players can carry out high quality practice sessions with better concentration when they have fewer spectators. For this reason, I am not planning to contact the team manager of the national team to arrange the date for me to go to their practice field to observe their practice sessions. I would like the team manager of the national team to do the highest quality job as possible. The match against Australia is drawing near and it is a very important time now for the national team. Our club team manager supports the team manger of the national team. I think it is wrong for us to discuss the national team’s practice and game performance in public. We will provide as much support as we can behind the scenes and we will observe them in public and by doing so we can contribute for the better performance of the national team.