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Soccer Conditioning and Fitness Drills

Few sports are demanding and intense like soccer. For you to become a great soccer player, you need to be in top physical condition. Becoming fit for soccer requires you to gain strength and explosive power. You should also have good cardiovascular fitness.

However, getting in shape for soccer is not as easy as it sounds. Players have to commit themselves and train with diligence to get fit. The good news is practicing with a team and participating in a competitive play can improve your fitness level. But you need to do more if you aspire to become a great soccer player.

This is where soccer conditioning and fitness drills come in. Doing some extra conditioning every day can help you build up stamina, endurance, and agility. High stamina and endurance enable a player to play efficiently throughout the match without getting tired or struggling.

Agility in soccer means the player’s ability to perform swift whole-body movements with a change of direction or velocity without falling. It also involves quickness, running at a higher speed and being able to outdo your opponents. Players with high agility like Lionel Messi play with high precision and tend to score more goals.

In modern soccer, conditioning and fitness are very critical. Improving your fitness and conditioning is hugely vital for becoming a professional soccer player. Conditioning helps young athletes have more energy and become resistant to injuries. Fitness helps soccer players to utilize their skills efficiently and endure full-strength matches.

One of the most common ways to get fit for soccer is building power and stamina. This can be achieved through running, performing sprints, strength training, and core muscle workouts.

In this article, you will learn how you can use various soccer conditioning and fitness drills to improve your efficiency in the field. Continue reading to find out more!

A Guide on How to Improve your Conditioning and Fitness

Every young soccer player must find a way to improve their condition and fitness. Here is a complete guide on how to improve your soccer conditioning and fitness:

Build Stamina with Interval Training: Stamina is one of the most important physical aspects of soccer. Every player should have stamina and endurance to remain effective in the field throughout the match. The stamina of a player determines whether they can play efficiently throughout an entire game.

If a player has low stamina and endurance, they may get tired quickly and perform poorly as the game proceeds. For many years, athletes have used interval training to build stamina and endurance.

This training combines short, high-intensity bursts of speed, with slow recovery phases, repeated in one session. It’s also known as the stop and go training. It works with the aerobic and anaerobic system to increase cardiovascular efficiency and tolerance to lactic acid build-up.

The basic idea here is performing continual running drills at two different paces; ideally fast and slow. The pace variation improves endurance and feigns the exertion young athletes are needed to make while playing.

Advance Sprint Speed with Resistance Training: As with stamina and endurance, speed is crucial for every soccer player. Speed and acceleration will allow you to out-pace other players and reach the ball quickly. The use of resistance training is a great way to boost your speed. Resistance training involves using resistance bands or rigid materials that strain your muscle movements.

Some of the basic exercises for resistance include lunges, running on the spot and push-ups. Use resistance bands for each exercise to obtain the necessary resistance training. Other exercises like squat and bench pressing and dumbbell rows also seem to improve sprint speed for soccer.

Build Strength with Squats and Lunges: While soccer is a non-contact sport, young players are required to be physically strong. Strength is essential when competing for position in set-pieces and challenging for the ball in attacks.

Lunges and squats are popular strength training workouts and help you tone your body while improving your overall fitness. They enhance your athletic performance. These workouts focus on strengthening your legs, hips, and back to improve mobility and stability.

Beginners and advanced youth athletes can perform lunges and squats to build strength. Although weightlifting is a great and effective way for strength building, it’s not recommended for children and teenagers. Instead, they should build strength with squats and lunges.

Perform Simple Stamina Training to Improve General Fitness: Apart from interval training, there are many other workouts and routines young players can perform to build stamina. These exercises include running up and downstairs, chest jumps, running, and shuttle runs. 

Fast chest jumps will help you build stamina and improve agility. Such workouts are better as you won’t need any equipment to complete them. You can perform them in your own free time.

Improve Flexibility with Extensive Warm Up and Stretching Routines: When it comes to a soccer, every player needs to be flexible and agile for efficiency and precision while playing. Players must be able to change direction fast with ease while accelerating and decelerating.

One of the most effective ways to improve flexibility is by performing rigorous pre-training and pre-game warm up. Rigorous pre-warm-ups are essential as they help to reduce the potential of injury and common complications like cramps.

Jumping straight into exercise can be very harmful as your muscles and legs are not ready for the tough action. Challenging and extreme warm-ups are perfect for performing simple exercises that improve flexibility and movement in young players. Examples of the best warm-up exercises for flexibility include high knees, butt kicks, quick shuffles, pull foot to the rear, and pull knee to chest.

Build Rock-Solid Core Stability: Solid core stability helps a player to take full advantage of every aspect of their physique. Overcoming defenders with incredible balance is a clear indication of rock-solid core stability and good speed.

However, not everyone has a low center of gravity. But since this aspect of conditioning is essential, your players must have a rock-solid core to emulate this. Young players can gain proper core stability from combining some unstable workouts to their training regime.

These workouts include squatting on a Bosu-ball, getting on a TRX for plank jacks, and performing a single-leg Romania deadlift with a T-bar. All these exercises will challenge the core to improve stability when pushing the ball forward.

Leave Sufficient Time for Recovery Time Between Training Sessions: For young players, it’s vital to allow enough time for recovery between training sessions. This is because their bodies are not grown fully but are still developing. While young children recover more quickly than adults, exposing them to continuous exercise can lead to injuries or too much pressure on their tender bodies.

In this case, the best thing to do is to ensure that no training sessions last longer than two hours. Coaches can mix training sessions and practices to have slow-paced workouts and intense training. Soccer training activities should be distributed fairly throughout the week to ensure that young players have sufficient time to recover.

Monitor Progress and Achievable Goals: At the beginning of every soccer training session, you should create a set of goals for each player and then work towards achieving them. Having goals will give the coach and player a scale to work from. As each training progresses, you can evaluate the progress and see if the goals are realistic.

If the goals are achievable, you can now focus and work towards achieving them. Along with monitoring progress, young players should also watch their feeding patterns. Maintaining a balanced nutritional diet is crucial for all children and teenagers. Soccer players should stay hydrated when training and competing to improve energy levels and promote quick recovery.

Soccer Conditioning and Fitness Drills

The fitness level of each player plays a critical role in making a successful team. Coaches should use soccer conditioning and fitness drills to keep the players fit and maximize the team’s potential. These soccer conditioning and fitness drills include:

  • 3-on3 Force Making

  • ABC 150s

  • Tempo Runs

  • Alternating Box Splint

3-on3 Force Making

Defending skills are very critical in soccer. Players are trained to stay with and shield their assigned opponents with wick cuts and speed changes to create space on the attack.

How the Drill Works

In this drill, players compete in a small-sided game of 3 versus 3 to the goal. Each player marks the player they have been matched up with on the opposing team during the entire game. This creates a challenging fitness aspect of the game.

Set-up

  • Prepare a playing area about 25 by 16 yards. Then put two, full-size goals on each end.
  • Position a goalkeeper on each goal. If the team has extra goalkeepers, let them alternate at the end of each round.
  • Divide your players into teams of three and give a different jersey color to each team. You should have a maximum of four teams per field. If all the players do not fit into four groups, set up another field or increase the dimensions to accommodate 4 versus 4 players.
  • Divide the balls evenly between goals and leave them inside the goals. Let the goalkeepers be in charge when starting a new ball for their team.
  • Let two teams stand on the field, and the rest surround the field to collect the ball when it goes out of bounds.
  • Set a time limit for each game, about two minutes for each game. Each team should play two games before taking a rest.
  • Keep in mind that one goalkeeper starts with the ball for their team.

Instructions

  • Let the players match up with one player on the opposing team. This is the only player they will and can defend throughout the game.
  • Command the start of the game and let the two teams compete to score the most goals.
  • When a team scores a goal, that team's goalkeeper starts a new ball right from their goal.
  • If the ball goes out of bounds during the match, the team that didn't touch it last starts a new ball.
  • When time is over, the team with the most goals wins. Then the next team(s) match up before the coach commands the start of another game.
  • Repeat this process for about 5 to 10 rounds depending on the players' fitness level and age and the number of teams you have.

Variations

  • Number of Players: Do not play with more than four teams. If your players do not fit in 3v3, play 4v4, 5v5, 6v6, and if that’s still not possible, create another field.
  • Competition: Watch how each team is playing to see who wins at the end of the game.
  • Winner stays: The winning team gets to stay for the next game. If there is a tie, the team that has been on the field for long goes out.

Coaching Points

  • Challenging the Players to compete with their matched opponent is key.
  • Ask and motivate the players to change direction. This will give them a better chance to receive the ball and withstand defense.
  • Motivate the players to be aggressive with the ball and try to beat their opponents. Tell them to be decisive and hard to defend.
  • Encourage the players to run and defend to get the best out of this activity and increase their stamina.

Equipment for Soccer Conditioning and Fitness

Adjustable Hurdles and Cone

Adjustable hurdles and cones are a great set of equipment designed to improve your speed and agility, making you efficient in the field. They are quick to set up and very easy to adjust. You just have to rotate the legs until you hear a click at 6, 9, or 12-inch height settings.

How to Use Adjustable Hurdles and Cones

Coaches can have their players do some dynamic movements and stretches to warm up for training or the actual game. You can arrange the hurdles for players to perform various jumping and explosive movements.

As the players progress with jumping, ask them to get the knees up and set their feet for passing the ball before they move back. Then have two players on each end who will be passing the ball to the one jumping. You can also use cones to test and improve the players dribbling skills through these simple steps:

  • Take 8 cones and arrange them in a straight line, then ask the players to dribble between the cones.
  • Have the players dribble through the cones and make sure they dribble back through the cones to the starting position.
  • They should then repeat this with different moves to improve their dribbling skills.

Agility Ladder

Agility Ladder is a piece of exercise equipment used to perform various agility drills to raise your heart rate and improve your athletic speed. You can use the agility ladder for a wide range of workouts, including sideways shuffles, skipping through rungs, and other exercises performed up and down the ladder for quick movements.

The agility ladder will improve three fitness aspects for soccer, including agility, speed, and quickness. It also strengthens the joints, ligaments and tendons. Incorporating agility ladder workouts in your soccer fitness routine is a great way to improve speed and have strong joints.

How to Use the Agility Ladder for Soccer Fitness and Conditioning

Being able to move your body faster is a very critical skill in soccer as players use all the body muscles. Using an agility ladder can significantly make a difference in the way you play this game. Your feet become flexible and precise like arms for easy ball handling. Here is how you can use the agility ladder for soccer conditioning and fitness:

Two-Feet Agility Drill

  • Stand side onto the agility ladder with your feet in the first squares.
  • Then run, moving sideways through the ladder.
  • Ensure that each foot contacts each square once while running.
  • The balls of the feet should also have ground contact.
  • Maintain an upright posture and emphasize a coordinated arm action.
  • Repeat this soccer drill for about 5 to 10 times. Make sure that you get a minute rest between the drill repetition rounds.

Single-Foot Agility Drill

  • Step into the first square with your right foot.
  • Then jump to the next square with the left foot and shift your body weight into this foot.
  • Jump to the third square with your right foot supporting your body and repeat this until you finish all the squares.
  • Once you finish one round, rest for about 60 seconds before repeating.
  • As you progress, try to increase your speed to ensure that your feet are moving and shifting quickly, like running over hot coals.

Slalom Poles

Slalom poles are a versatile and essential piece of equipment for soccer fitness and conditioning. You can easily set them up in whatever way you need them for your training. You can use them to improve players' speed and test their dribbling skills.

The good thing with the slalom pole is that they are durable and very easy to store, so they won’t take much space. They come in bright colors like yellow, red, green, and orange to ensure they stand out. This helps you train with precision and get the most out of the training.

Young players can use this equipment for soccer fitness and conditioning both indoors or outdoors. Sticking them on the ground or a base is one of the best ways to make use of slalom poles. Here are two basic ways to use slalom poles for soccer conditioning and fitness;

Slalom Poles for Agility

You players must develop their agility skills to become great soccer players. It’s the ability to change your speed and direction instantly without losing balance. You can use slalom poles for agility by setting them up in a line and have the players weave in and out of the poles.

Set the poles tactically so that the players will have to think about moving their bodies and where to place their feet while weaving. Make sure that they get the point of turning and moving as quickly as possible.

Slalom Poles for Plyometrics

While speed is crucial in soccer, it may not help much if you don’t have more power. Plyometrics training can help players gain more power and excellent speed for soccer. You can use slalom poles to set up for some simple plyometrics drills.

Place the poles on the ground as a rudimentary agility ladder and have the players hop from one gap to the next. You can also set them out in pairs and let the players jump over them, then change the angle to alter the jump height.

FAQ

How Do You Condition Your Body for Soccer?

Conditioning is very crucial in soccer. To do well in football, you need good cardiovascular fitness, agility, speed, and stamina.

Proper conditioning and fitness include good warm-up, agility training, speed training, power training, and recovery.

Good Warm-Up

  • Warm-up is crucial but usually overlooked in the fitness and conditioning training.
  • Before you start doing any exercise or stretching, first do a proper warm to avoid any injuries.
  • You can do some simple jogging before you begin doing muscle stretching.

Power Training

  • Power here means the swift and strong movement of the player's leg. The leg movement involves the hip, knee, and ankles.
  • The best exercise here includes push jerk, split jerk, dumbbell snatch, and clean high pull.
  • Some exercises that players can perform to condition the upper body's power include the squats, pull-ups, last pull, shoulder raises, curls, and wrist rolls.

Agility Training

  • Agility refers to the capability of a player to change direction while running.
  • exercises aimed at conditioning players for agility include walking with an agility ladder, running around poles, and jumping over step hurdles.

Conditioning for Speed

  • Speed is a vital aspect of any sport. In football and basketball, the faster the player is, the better they will become.
  • Exercises to condition you for speed include sled pulls and hill runs.

What is the Ideal Weight for a Soccer Player?

Many soccer players wonder what their ideal body weight should be. To be sincere, only nature knows what each soccer player should weigh.

Each player's body is unique, and therefore, there is no specific weight that is ideal for every player.

We can only suggest a range of weight with which a player can estimate their right weight depending on their body attributes.

Soccer is a game that relies not only on the skills but also depends on the strength, agility, power, and endurance.

Professional players need to take training and conditioning more seriously as it will boost performance and reduce the chance of sustaining injuries during matches. Here is general information from the weight and height guide for soccer;

Men

  • The average weight for a man with a height of 5 feet should be 106 pounds and an addition of 6 pounds for every additional inch.
  • For instance, for a man with a height of 5-10, their average weight will be 166 pounds, their lowest could go to 150 pounds, and the highest up to 182 pounds.

Women

  • The average weight of a woman footballer with a height of 5 feet would be 100 pounds and five pounds for every additional inch.
  • For instance, a woman with a height of 5-6 feet would weigh an average of 130 pounds, 117 pounds lowest, and at most 143 pounds if she is very muscular.

How Do You Build Your Muscles for Soccer?

Strength training is a very crucial exercise for soccer players. It helps them perform actions like sprinting, jumping, changing direction, and running efficiently.

Strength training also helps the players to build muscles and stamina required to overcome their opponents.

Practicing and getting the best out of your muscle training program is essential you understand the muscles to gain and how to attain them effectively.

Here is how you can build leg, upper and core, and hip and glute muscles:

Leg Muscles

  • Strong legs are essential to any football player. It’s the legs used to run for ninety minutes in the field, jumping and kicking the ball powerfully. Every time the legs perform these functions, the leg muscles are engaged.
  • Some of the best exercises that will build the leg muscles include lunges, squats, running for long distances, and sprinting.
  • Leg muscles can take time to grow, and therefore consistency is essential. Also, some products like SRAMs are right, increasing the rate of muscle growth. Ensure to consult your team doctor before taking such products.

Upper and Core Muscles

  • This muscle type includes the core muscles, multifidus, lower back muscles, transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and a six-pack.
  • These muscles enable you to run for longer, strengthen your kick, and improve your throws.
  • The best exercises for these muscles include the sit-ups, plank, side plank, bridges, and crunches.

Hip and Glute Muscles

  • The hip muscles are also vital because they determine the power of your shot. They are responsible for the explosive power required to beat opponents.
  • The best exercises for building these muscles include the forward cone jumps, side lunges, weighted deadlifts, and step-ups.

Do Professional Players Lift Weights?

Yes, professional players lift weights. Lifting weights is essential for improving physical qualities like strength, agility, acceleration, and powerful movements.

Some players and trainers believe that weight lifting is not suitable for soccer players. This is due to a traditional belief that lifting weight makes the players slow and inflexible.

Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United star, used to lift weights according to a custom plan from his trainer.

Many other players from big English premier league clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United, and Liverpool do weight-lift to increase their strength in the field.

Clubs like Arsenal rely on isometric and plyometric exercises to increase their players' speed and explosiveness rather than weight lifting.

Soccer is continually improving, and the game is requiring physical strength. Usually, the players who lift weights overpower the skinny and fast players. Hence, weight lifting is an essential aspect in soccer.

Below are 2 main benefits of weight lifting that soccer players can obtain:

Good and Consistent Performance

  • In any game, players perform a variety of explosive movements. These movements include tackling, jumping, turning, kicking, and Jostling.
  • For players to perform these actions efficiently and consistently, they need a lot of strength. Regardless of the position that a player is playing, they need strength, and hence they should do weight lifting exercises.

Weight Lifting Reduces the Injury Risks

  • Lifting weights enable you to withstand higher forces and thus reduce the chances of sustaining injuries while playing.
  • Many research pieces have proved that physical strength reduces the chances of injury among soccer players by half.

Last update on 2020-11-29 / This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the author

Lazy Legs

"I learned all about life with a ball at my feet." Soccer allows me to push the limits of creativity and express myself without saying a word. Soccer is my addiction. I train, I play, and I repeat every single day. I hope you like my site. Feel free to say hey. I don't bite. :)

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