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Soccer fitness training is used by an athlete in order to increase his or her ability to perform at peak levels for a full match. Conditioning for soccer involves a number of different training drills including long-distance jogging, shuttle runs and endurance drills. A soccer player needs to have the endurance to play for an entire match as well as the speed to stay competitive in what is a fast-paced game.
Soccer fitness training focuses on increasing the fitness of a player in areas that will affect his or her game. For example, a soccer player has no need to run marathon length distances as even professional players will not usually run more than around 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) in an average match. On the other hand, a soccer player needs to be able to perform frequent short- and medium-length sprints while jogging or walking in between.
When a coach or a player talks about soccer fitness training he or she is usually referring to endurance training. Endurance fitness describes the body’s ability to avoid getting tired during extended periods of exercise. If a soccer player has low endurance then he or she will find it difficult to keep up a high level of performance for the entire game. To increase endurance, drills such as long distance jogging are used. An exercise called “the box” is also common, which involves creating a box of cones and then asking the athletes to alternately jog, run and sprint between them for a long period of time.
One of the most important attributes of a soccer player in the modern game is speed. Pure pace can make the difference between an average and a great player — especially during amateur games. It used to be thought that speed was a natural attribute and hence couldn’t be improved via soccer fitness training but that is incorrect. To improve the straight line speed of an athlete, fitness training should include exercises to increase the power of the muscles involved. This could be in the form of gym exercises or sprinting sessions.
An often overlooked part of soccer fitness training is stretching. Stretching muscles — especially leg and hip muscles — can increase an athlete’s flexibility. It can also improve the athlete’s gait and hence his or her speed. Some of the most important muscles for a soccer player to stretch include the hamstrings, calf and quadriceps muscles.