Soccer or football as it's called in most of the world is a game that requires a wide range of fitness to play at an elite level. You need not only good cardiovascular fitness; you need core strength, speed, agility and stamina. All of this in one player who can play a full 90 minutes or more, at as close to peak level as possible. How do you reach this goal? Simple, hard work and dedication to being the best you can be.
The components of soccer fitness training include the following: proper warm up, sprint training, Power training, agility training, speed training, and recovery.
Proper Warm Up
You need to start your soccer work out by doing light jog to warm the muscles up. This is followed by a dynamic (active) stretching of your muscles. Stretching is especially important for the optimal performance of your body. The warm up is an area of sports that is most commonly overlooked when it comes to performance enhancement training.
Sprint training should mirror the game. You should sprint for 30 seconds and then jog or run lightly for 60 seconds. Why, because this is how you run in a game. How many times does a soccer player sprint the field for more than a 30 second burst? Almost never, so why train that way. Some coaches for example, have their players jog for miles at 50% intensity. Do you want your athletes chasing the ball at 50% of what they are capable during a game? Then why would you have them train at 50% intensity, rather than at the intensity level they will experience in a game. It makes no sense. Train the way you play. Two important notes: never start sprint training or a game, until you are properly warmed up and stretched: and Do not do sprint training the day before a game. Always allow 48 hours of recovery before a game.
Let's start with Power. I define power as the quick and strong movement of the leg; starting from the hip, to the knee, and ending at the ankle. Olympic (Power) Lifts and Plyometrics help to develop these areas.
The Olympic (Power) Lifts include: the push jerk, split jerk, clean, clean pull, clean high pull, and Dumbbell Snatch.
The Plyometric exercises include: jumps, hops, and bounds. These exercises use the body's weight as resistance.
Power also includes strengthening your upper and lower body. Lower body exercises include: squats, single leg squat, step ups, and lunges. The upper body exercises include: Bench press, push ups, pull ups, lat pull, shoulder raises, curls, extensions, and wrist rolls.
Next is Agility. Agility is the ability to change direction while running or moving. Sometimes we call agility "quickness." We've all been at a game and heard someone say, "that guy's quick." Quickness should not be confused with speed, it's related but it's not the same thing.
There a variety of agility drills that can be done, including: running around poles, working with an agility ladder, or even jumping over step hurdles.
The final aspect to consider is Speed. We've all heard the old saying, "Speed kills." In soccer this is probably truer than in almost any other sport. The ability of a team to have the endurance and stamina to run the pitch successful for the complete game is critical to success at the highest levels. It's one of the most important attributes of any player. Speed comes to play everyday, and speed never goes to be coached. The faster, and quicker you can become, the better all around basketball player and athlete you will become.
Speed exercises include: sled pulls, band runs, and hill runs.
I cannot stress enough the importance of recovery. Too often I see coaches destroy players with their "No pain no gain mentality." When you push your players 100% you need to give them a day off or at least do an active recovery day. The key thing to remember about recovery is that during the workout all you are doing is breaking down the muscle and the muscle fiber. When you are recovering or sleeping, that is when the rebuilding process occurs, this is when we are in essence getting better. So keep that in mind the next time you choose your post workout meal, and deciding what time to go to bed. You should ask your self this question “How good do I want to be?” Then make some of those tough decisions that come up in life.
I hope this article helps you get started on your own fitness program. I know if you use it you will improve not only your performance but also your enjoyment of the game.
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