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Training and Discipline: Parallels Between Horse Racing Jockeys and Football Players

Two of the most popular sports to watch in the United Kingdom are horse racing and football, with both ranking among the top three in terms of regular attendances throughout the calendar year.

Given how exciting both sports can be at the highest level, it is often easy to overlook the hours of preparation that go into the care that the athletes take to compete at the elite level.

Stars in both sports will spend hours on end working to get into their peak level of performance, but how do the training methods differ between horse racing jockeys and football stars?

Big Similarity

In truth, there will be a lot of differences when it comes to the training routines of football stars and horse racing jockeys, as they will need different muscles to compete at the highest level. However, one of the biggest similarities between the two is the importance of cardiovascular fitness.

Therefore, it is no surprise that both jockeys and football stars will spend hours on end working on their fitness, whether that be running on the treadmill, or competing in bleep tests.

The latter is exceptionally important for jockeys, as it is a key test that is used to ensure that a jockey is cleared to compete on track after returning from injury. The level of cardio that will be completed by stars in both sports will differ slightly, mainly because jockeys will be wary of the weight that they are carrying and there will be punishments if they lose too much weight during their fitness routines.

Therefore, while running may be the most popular form of cardio for football players, walking is a preferred option among jockeys.

Jockey Emphasis On Leg Muscles & Core

Two of the most important muscle groups for jockeys is legs and core, with both playing a big role in terms of the success that a jockey could stand to enjoy on track. Core is exceptionally important for jockeys, as this will ensure that they are able to sit on a horse throughout the duration of a race, before then springing into action at the business end of a race to ask for more effort from their ride.

The core is vitally important for riders, as it will ensure that they are able to keep still on a fast moving horse, while this muscle group is typically less important when it comes to football. As well as a strong core, jockeys will also need to have powerful leg muscles, as these are how the riders control where their horses are travelling.

Many of the best jockeys in the world will have incredibly power within their legs, as this will enable them to move their rides into tactical positions before powering them forward to go for home. While leg muscles are also important when it comes to football, it could be argued that it is a factor that separates the very best jockeys from the chasing pack within the sport of horse racing.

Interval Training Important In Football

While jockeys will use cardio as a form to lose bits of weight in order to avoid punishments, football stars will need to have a strong base cardio level to compete in a game of football.

However, the fitness regime for footballers will also include bursts of speed, meaning that there is extra emphasis on interval training. Here, footballers will walk for a short period, before sprinting. A jog is also included in phases to incorporate what players could expect to experience in an in-game situation.

Given that footballers aren’t running for 90 minutes throughout a match, interval training takes into account the short bursts of speed that are required in order to increase lung capacity. This could have a hugely important impact on performance, with sprints largely required by players to pick up loose balls, as well as chasing onto long passes to move into advanced areas of the field.

Case Study

A recent test saw a footballer and jockey compete in a number of tests to show which athlete comes out on top. Leah Williamson of Arsenal Women took on multiple time group-winning jockey Hollie Doyle, with the test seeing the stars compete over a 10m sprint, squats and planks.

However, the results were pretty surprising, with Doyle coming out on top in the 10m sprint, which would have been better tailored to the footballer. Interestingly, Doyle then lost the plank challenge, which goes against the belief that jockeys need a strong core to compete at the highest level.

Therefore, the results show that there are more similarities than many believe when it comes to the training that both jockeys and footballers must complete to complete at the very highest levels of their respective sports.