How to Train for Soccer
You might have watched elite soccer players make impressive moves, sustain high speeds and technical proficiency despite the long distances they cover in a soccer match. All that tenacity does not come cheap - it is a product of sheer hard work and dedication.
From pushing through a pack of defenders to scoring from crazy angles, all these soccer skills are attained after long periods of intense training. However, if you have the right mindset, you too can acquire these skills.
Soccer is a very demanding sport in terms of skills requirement. Training for soccer involves many factors because of the full range of skills needed for success in this game.
Playing in different positions require different skill sets. You also need to attain full-body fitness to be an effective soccer player.
Success in soccer requires endurance. You remain in the field for long periods, and you are expected to deliver peak performance all through.
In a typical soccer game, players can cover many kilometers of running distances, all while kicking, attacking, controlling the ball and changing direction.
This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to train for soccer. Let’s get to the details.
Enhancing Fitness And Conditioning For Soccer
Train For Your Specific Position
For you to gain maximum benefits out of your fitness and conditioning training, it is important that you train for the specific soccer position that you want to play.
Different soccer positions demand different kinds of training. As an example, a goalkeeper doesn’t have to be as fit for running as a center midfielder.
You will find that even defenders and midfielders have different training needs. Let us look at some fitness needs for various soccer positions.
Goalkeepers – this position demands quick and powerful reactions necessary for catching and clearing the ball from the goal.
Goalkeepers do not need much of long-distance stamina, as they don’t move around much. Training for this position should focus on strength and quick reactions. A goalkeeper should be fast and have a slim physique.
Defenders – players for this position need to have strong upper and lower bodies. They also need to train for sprinting speed.
Even though defenders might not be required to run across the field continuously, they should have enough stamina to get to the ball and fight for it for effective defending.
Midfielders - this is perhaps the soccer position that demands the most long-distance stamina. Their speed and endurance need to be exceptionally high for success in this position. Their foot skills also need to be strong and quick.
Forwards – just like defenders, forward players need to strike a balance between speed and strength., and they also need jogging stamina sufficient to overwhelm defenders and create offensive play opportunities.
Games And Scrimmages
Playing soccer is the best way to acquire fitness for the game because playing the game trains your entire body all at once.
You will, however, need to do some additional training for specialized skills. A great thing with playing soccer is you are forced to build endurance and speed in real-life soccer situations.
Playing soccer is also an effective way of gaining strength and agility. A good soccer game is a good training session.
During fun play, try and play in different positions that demand fitness in different muscles. This will not only help you acquire full-body fitness, but also enable you to learn the game.
Interval Training Rather Than Long-distance Running
Interval training involves alternating hard sprints with brief resting breaks (or jogs). This trains your body on attaining top speed and recovering quickly from the body strain.
Interval training conditions are much more in line with what happens in real soccer games compared to jogging for long hours. interval training has been seen to get faster and better fitness results. An interval training session may look like this.
You can reduce the jogging (rest period) as you get more fit. Aim for alternating 30-second sprints with 30-second jogs.
Improve Agility And Reaction Speeds
Being fast on your feet and effective in direction changing will propel you to be a better soccer player.
Repeated muscle stretching and contracting enhances your strength and builds agility. There are multiple exercises that you can engage in to achieve this. Let us look at a few highly effective ones.
Cone Runs – place cones in a zig-zag way. Run through the cone-pattern as fast as you can while making sharp turns around the cones.
Suicide runs – use cones to create two lines approximately 20 yards apart. Your aim is sprint to the end as hard as you can, touch the cone, and sprint back.
Your focus should be on maintaining high-speeds and body balance as you make quick and smooth directional changes.
Ladder drills – these drills will make your feet lighter and faster, and your directional change better. With ladder drills, you can form multiple patterns to train for agility.
Hurdles or Box Jumps – with these exercises try and land on your toes and ensure that you spring back up as fast and efficient as possible.
Even though long-distance runs may not be applicable in much of soccer training, such runs can still help in recovery and building endurance for soccer games.
Such workouts can be done about 1-2 times a week. During off days when you can't do full workouts, you can perform long, slow runs to activate and stretch your muscles.
Swimming and cycling can also be used to activate muscles. The aim here is to maintain a relatively slow pace for about 30-60 minutes.
Upper Body Exercises For Better Soccer Play
You will need a sturdy upper body to enable you to fight defenders and win header fights. With a stronger upper body, you will also become harder to tackle.
Being able to resist tackles and compete better for position during the game will make you a more effective soccer player. The aim is to be strong while also remaining lean. Develop a workout schedule that focuses on the following muscle groups.
An effective program may work on each muscle group 2 to 4 times every week and doing 2 to 3 exercises for each muscle group.
Chest and back – chest and back muscles help in establishing and keeping space when fighting for the ball, whether in the box or mid-air. Also, a strong back will enhance your balance while playing, and your overall body strength.
Arms - having toned arms will not only help you push through the opponent players but will also help you stay in balance while on the ball. To tone your arms, you can do bicep curls and triceps pushups at home or in the gym.
Abs and Core – by having strong core muscles, you will be able to effectively transfer power between the upper and the lower body, according to your power needs at the moment.
This will in effect make you a better soccer player. Sit-ups and crunches are two of the best workouts for Abs and core. These workouts can be performed on a daily basis.
Push Yourself Harder
Acquiring fitness for soccer takes a lot of hard work and relentless dedication. When performing drills, push yourself as hard as you would in a real game.
When you feel worn out by the exercises, put your focus on your foot skills. The best players remain technically proficient even when they are exhausted. This will make you better than most of the other players.
You can also get a dedicated training partner to help you stay dedicated by motivating you, and also to introduce some competition which may motivate you to work harder.
Ball Skills Training
To acquire the various skills needed in soccer, you can perform multiple soccer training drills. There is a wide range of exercises for you to choose from.
Different drills focus on different skill sets, and it is crucial that you understand what drills help with what skills. Below, we will discuss some core skills that you should endeavor to attain, and drills that can help with achieving those skills.
Ball control is a vital skill in soccer. You can enhance your ball control by juggling and dribbling drills. Such exercises involve trying to maintain as much contact with the ball as possible, as you move around, with the aim of keeping the ball under control.
Juggling – this exercise is the use of your whole body (except your arms and hands) to prevent the ball from getting to the ground. The aim is to get as many touches and to keep the ball off the ground as long as possible.
Cone workouts – you do this drill by using cones to form a pattern on the ground, and then dribbling through the cones at your highest speed without touching any of the cones.
Close touch drills – this drill involves bouncing the ball between your feet as fast as you can, with both feet and using every part of your feet.
Dribbling While Looking Up
The ability to dribble while looking at what is happening around you will be of many benefits to your soccer play.
Being able to see your teammates and the opponents will help you make better passes, moves or shots. Learn to keep your head up and dribble without looking at the ball during drills, and in real games.
Aerial Ball Control
Often, the soccer ball goes up in the air during the game, and that is why it is essential to learn how to control balls coming out of the air effectively.
Have a training partner and yourself hit crosses to each other. When you receive a cross, let the balls bounce and then try to catch them mid-air and make crosses at varying heights.
The aim here is to use as few touches as possible to prepare the ball for the cross. Be as fast as you can without compromising on the quality of your ball control.
Enhance Your Control By Hitting The Ball From Different Parts
Hitting the ball at different angles propels it into different trajectories. The way you hit the soccer ball should be determined by what you want to do with it.
You ought to train adequately for this because it improves your ball control and makes you a better player overall. For short, precise passes, hit the ball with the inside of your foot.
When you want to send the ball spinning or curling, strike it on the lower, outside part with your laces. If you want to curl the ball in the opposite direction, hit it with the outside of the foot.
Focus On Strengthening Your Weakness Points
To be great at soccer, you will have to be an all-round player that can play to different ends (such as attacking or defending) and with both feet.
You should, therefore, practice playing with your non-dominant foot. Your aim should be getting to a point where you can play comfortably with either foot in any area of control.
If you can use your non-dominant foot well enough, it will give you more options with the ball. You also become more dangerous and less predictable.
If you notice that you are not good at any soccer skill, put a lot of effort into getting better at that particular skill.
Soccer is a beautiful and thrilling game, but the skills needed for success do not come easy. It takes intense training to become a proficient soccer player.
Your workouts should be preceded by an effective warm-up session to get you going. You also need to exercise for improved speeds, especially short sprints.
Attaining full-body strength is instrumental in this game, and you should incorporate a few full-body workouts in your program. Success in soccer also needs balance training.
You can acquire different ball skills by performing different soccer drills and playing soccer regularly.
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