A guide to soccer fitness conditioning

by barCode

 

As the sport of soccer gets more popular, more and more people are taking up as a way to sweat it out while others have found a passion for it.

Soccer isn’t a simple child’s game, it requires a certain level of fitness and agility whether you are playing on a futsal court or on a field.

Soccer players require all around athleticism no matter what position they play. Certain aspects may be more important to one position than another, but still plays a large role in the abilities of a player.

Even with a range of football coaching and training services out there, developing a quality strength and conditioning program for both kids and adults alike are usually not up to par. It takes someone with special knowledge of the technical aspects to develop something that really help players to improve effectively.

Some elements of training include:

  • Speed
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Agility
  • Nutrition

 

The need to develop a firm foundation of aerobics can’t be understated. After all, in an actual football match, a player can easily travel up to 13km during a full one and a half hour game. As a result, it is important to have strong leg muscles and also a good cardiovascular system for stamina and endurance. Some common training activities that are well suited to soccer players include:

  • Squats
  • Front Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Leg Curls
  • Calf Raises

 

SPEED – AGILITY – ACCELERATION

Always warm up prior to taking on any exercise regime by taking a short jog to warm up the muscles. We first start with acceleration sprints; these focus on shorter distances focusing on hitting top speed.

ACCELERATION

  • 3x10m Sprints
  • 2x25m Sprints
  • 2x20m Uphill Sprints

 

Now we focus more to maintaining that speed and trying to build on it. It is not suggested using more than 90-meter sprints, because realistically, you won’t be running the length of the field at full speed.

SPEED

  • 4x40m Sprints
  • 3x90m Sprints

 

Agility plays a large role in many positions. Agility is the ability to make cuts and run side to side on the field without losing balance.

AGILITY

  • 4x20m Shuttle

 

Never do multiple speed and agility trainings one day after the other as it will tax the body. Also, refrain from doing cardio after a speed workout as they are opposite working forms of running, and doing long distance cardio may slow down the progress of your speed training.

 

PLYOMETRICS

For Plyometrics, keep a one day rest period between workouts. Plyometrics helps build elasticity within the muscles; they play a large role in improving strength, explosiveness, speed and jumping ability.

  • Depth jumps
  • Vertical jumps
  • One leg jumps
  • Power skips
  • Double leg jumps
  • Squat jumps

Plyometrics should not be performed till failure. Also, do not perform cardio after a plyometric session.

 

All these exercises are done with varying intensities and duration to help soccer players to push their limits and increase strength and endurance.

Besides the need to be able to run a field’s length throughout the game, soccer players need to have strength and power to tackle opponents and also to resist tackles from them.

Although there is more emphasis on more physically demanding sports like rugby and American football, strength is surprisingly necessary to develop for soccer players. Some aspects of strength training can have these benefits:

  • Become less prone to injury
  • Better balance and agility
  • Increased energy
  • Faster recovery

 

In soccer, constant balance is needed together with strength. That’s why your training must include compound and functional exercises such as squats, step-ups, pull-ups and lunges.

Also, focus on training groups of muscles so that your performances on the pitch are effective. As an overview, emphasize on the lower body and core muscles, these are the most important when it comes to soccer.

Lastly, when it comes to nutrition, taking the right type of food to influence your energy levels, health, fitness levels, recovery and performance are essential. Some basic tips for a football diet:

  • Eat after training not before
  • Each 3-4 smaller meals or snacks
  • Take white meat, vegetables, fruits and whole grains
  • Take starchy carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, bread etc after your training or one day before a game
  • Take fish oil that is rich in omega-3 fatty acid

 

We can classify a professional soccer player’s training into the off-season and the on-season.

The weekly schedule for an off-season should have 2 strength training days and a speed training day apart from regular practices on the pitch. On the other hand, when you are on-season where you have regular games to play in, cut down on your training intensity and volume so that you are less likely to get muscle fatigue which could affect your performance on the field.

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