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An essential aspect of soccer is fitness. You need a high amount of endurance to last 90 minutes on a field, transitioning between jogging to sprinting at full speed.
As a dynamic sport that requires strength, explosive power, and cardiovascular fitness, soccer also demands a balance between athleticism and creativity.
Getting fit for soccer varies from situation to situation. The journey to achieve optimal fitness can depend on your initial shape, your desired fitness, and the time before your season begins.
- How to Get Fit For Soccer
- Training to Get Fit for Soccer
- Other Soccer Fitness Considerations
- Recovery Time
- Benefits of Being Fit for Soccer
- Related Questions
How to Get Fit For Soccer
There are several different reasons to train and prepare for soccer. Beyond your general fitness levels, though, is the importance of training to prevent injury and sustain your body.
Soccer is a grueling, physical game, and proper training for the game will lower your risk for injury. It will also decrease your recovery time and allow you to play the game much longer.
Before you begin any type of training or exercise, it’s essential that you warm up. Moving your muscles and raising your heart rate before a workout is crucial.
An easy 5-10 minute warm-up can save you from the risk of injury and raise the effectiveness of your training. Warming up can look like many different drills, exercises, and stretches.
You can use mini-bands to activate your muscles and joints, work on balance, and work on strengthening. Make sure to also include dynamic stretching in your warm-up.
Training to Get Fit for Soccer
Many think that soccer training only involves cardio work. While having great cardiovascular strength is vital to succeeding in soccer, there are so many other fitness areas you need to focus on.
In soccer, you will make many cuts, turns, and twists on the field, requiring agility and quickness. To develop this, you’ll need to add specific training to your workouts.
In addition, there is a lot of strength training that you’ll need to add to your workout regime. Strength is required throughout the game, from having the power to kick the ball hard and far to having the strength to shed defenders and gain positioning.
Increasing your strength is essential for soccer, and you should focus on a well-rounded weight training regimen.
Strengthening your lower body is essential for actions like sprinting, explosive movements, and jumping in soccer. You can use a complete training plan comprised of squats and deadlifts, calf raises, and leg extensions. For a complete training plan, you can find one here.
Soccer mainly uses your lower body. However, you shouldn’t just focus on strengthening your lower body muscles, like your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. You should also work on your upper body.
For your upper body and core, you’ll need exercises like:
- bicep curls
- tricep extensions
If you can, incorporate strength or weight training into your regimen twice a week.
Cardiovascular training, or cardio for short, is the backbone of soccer fitness training. While having good cardio will allow you to last the entire game, it will also let you play better as the game wears on.
Long Distance Running
A healthy dose of long-distance running is an excellent first step. With the average soccer player running anywhere from 5-10 miles per game, you should be running throughout the week.
Depending on your schedule and timing, run several times per week, ranging in distances from 3 miles to 8 miles, with some top soccer cleats for running. If you have wider feet, don’t settle for a larger size. Find yourself good soccer cleats for wide feet.
Sprints and Lines
You should also be running short distances to work on your agility and sprinting. 40-yard dashes and 100-yard dashes will help increase your short-distance cardio while running lines back and forth helps with your cardio and agility at the same time.
Another way to work your cardio is to train with small-sided games (for example, 4v4 or 6v6 on a small field).
Play Indoor Soccer
In these small-sided games, you’re engaged in the play more often and move positions much more than you would in a full-field game. This can be a lot more fun than just pure running, and you’ll also be able to work on your soccer skills while at it.
This type of workout will help you increase power and explosiveness when you jump and change directions. To help you increase your explosiveness in your upper body, you should do exercises like explosive pushups. This style of push-ups will allow you to maximize your strength training through a simple plyometric exercise.
For your lower body, use split jumps or squat jumps. After you establish a foundation, increase the weight. You can get that challenge by wearing a weight vest.
You’ll notice that a lot of plyometrics involve quick movements and jumps. This is why this training style works so well for building your soccer fitness – so much of soccer mimics these movements. For an extreme version of this type of plyometric training, consider joining a P90X gym.
Soccer is a very dynamic sport where you are constantly changing speeds. As such, your training should mirror that dynamic.
In your cardio and weight lifting workouts for soccer, vary the distances and intervals. In its most basic form, this is called Interval Training and should help prepare you for the game and its various speeds.
While this isn’t an advanced form of interval training, the process of varying what you do week-in and week-out is vital for a fast-moving sport like soccer.
Other Soccer Fitness Considerations
While I’ve put together a collection of general soccer fitness tips, from cardio to strength training, from plyometrics to interval training, I also have a few general topics to share.
Work on Agility
If you identify agility as an area you could specifically work on, then you’ll want to add some specific workouts to improve this part.
In soccer, you should be able to:
- change directions
- make moves
- have fast feet to kick the ball
To improve these areas, set up a simple obstacle course with cones.
This type of training engages muscles like your hip flexors and quads, which are used to change direction and react to movement.
Another simple workout for your soccer agility is to set up a ladder on the ground; using a fast-feet ladder is also helpful to work on your agility. There are so many different exercises to work on while using a fast-feet ladder—the combinations are almost endless.
Fitness Test Specific
Especially if you’re heading into the preseason, you might have specific fitness tests you must pass before the season starts. Training for these specific fitness tests by actually running them can help with fitness overall.
Having passed the fitness test before will also give you the confidence to pass them again. Some fitness tests in soccer include the beep test, the 120 or Man U test, the 300-yard shuttle test, and so on. Check with your coach or team program about which ones your team uses.
Fitness With the Ball
At the end of the day, you’re not running track and field or cross country—you’re playing soccer. Running fitness with a quality soccer ball makes your training much more game-realistic.
With this training, you’ll be prepared when game time comes. Out on the field, you not only have to be fast, but you also need to keep the ball under control.
There are specific, certain exercises and drills that you can perform in your fitness training. Following these tips can help you develop a training regimen to get you fit before your season begins. Beyond that, training with a soccer ball at the same time naturally improves your other essential skills such as:
- crossing the ball.
Training for preseason may have you working against the clock. However, you must allow your body to recover —especially after a strength training session. Training with an in-recovery body can do more harm than good and may lead to injury.
Remember, recovery and preparation for training go hand-in-hand. Right after one training session ends, preparation for the next already begins. Cooling down is just as important as warming up.
Part of recovery also includes replacing the fluids and fuel you lost while training.
Benefits of Being Fit for Soccer
|Strength||Improved ball protection|
Being fit and in shape for soccer has so many benefits for you. Here are the top advantages of focusing on your fitness levels:
- Endurance: you’ll be able to play for the entire 90-minute game or even longer. Remember that soccer usually goes longer than its allotted time due to stoppage and injury. In addition, sometimes games have extra time in the event of ties or even a shootout after full-time. This is when you need to be at your best, and being fit will allow you to perform at this time.
- Skill: it’s challenging to perform at your best when you’re tired, sore, or in pain. Soccer fitness will allow you (and your body) to focus on playing the game to your best. Your dribbling and passing will improve, along with your aggression and shooting. In addition, your mind will be able to focus on what is essential in the game rather than on how tired you are.
- Fewer Injuries: when you are in proper shape, you get injured less. Injuries can be a massive setback for a soccer player.
Here are some frequently asked questions about getting fit for soccer.
How Long Does It Take To Get Fit for Soccer?
Although this can depend on your body and genes, most people can get fit in at least six months. However, you should manage your expectations; becoming as fit as a professional player may take years.
Do Soccer Players Train Everyday?
Even though soccer players practice a lot, they do not practice every day. These athletes practice 5 or 6 days a week, and on top of that, they don’t do heavy training every day.
This allows their bodies to withstand the training and recover.
What Food Do Footballers Eat to Be Fit?
Soccer players often eat food with a lot of calories, proteins, and fiber. This helps their bodies to recover faster and improve. These foods are pasta, potatoes, bread, vegetables, chicken, meat, and rice.
Getting fit for a soccer season doesn’t have to be rocket science. It takes discipline, consistency, and pushing your limits until you are fit enough to play or pass a fitness test.
Depending on the league you’re playing in and your position on the field, your fitness level can look different. Your team might have specific fitness tests to pass. However, following these tips can help get you to a game fitness level.