Soccer fitness is a curious beast. Until the last few decades, one did not have to have an especially athletic build to make it as a pro soccer player. Now, though, players at the top level – and even some semi-pro soccer players – have strict training regimens, and the physiques to match. It’s fair to say that in soccer fitness is now more important than ever, so here are some tips to help you get in the right condition for 90 minutes of action.
First of all, you need to know your soccer position, or at least your style of play, so that you know what to work on the most. Players who operate as soccer wingers will need to be pacy and posses great balance; center-backs need to work on their aerial abilities, so a jumping skill is an absolute must. Those in the center of midfield require upper-body strength and an ability to slide in for tackles, while goal-getting strikers need a burst of speed to break free of their marker. Once you know where you should be focusing, you can tailor a soccer fitness regimen to your needs.
That said, there are plenty of important lessons that all soccer players – even goalkeepers – can bear in mind in a bid to stay fit.
First off is basic general aerobic fitness. The pros can cover well in excess of 4.5 miles per game on the field, and although you may not go quite that far, you do need to be ready to go the distance. So, work on aerobics.
Anaerobic fitness is almost as important. This is the ‘hardcore’ fitness test, and it applies when you’re sprinting. So, as well as doing endurance running, do some sprint drills to ensure that you can meet the pace when required.
And, although it doesn’t relate precisely to fitness, don’t forget some ball work. Practicing soccer drills is a great way to break the tedium of running, and if you can combine the two – for example running while dribbling the ball for 50 yards – you’ll become a better player, too.
Then, on game day, always warm up correctly. This is key for fitness as a proper soccer warm-up will decrease the likelihood of injury. To warm up for soccer, start with some basic muscle stretches in all the major groups, and then partake of some sprint drills. Combine these with static turns, especially if you run with the ball a lot, and also do brief runs with a jumping header motion in the middle of them to get your neck ready for action!
Warming down is just as important: not many fans will be able to tell you that, as they’ve long since left the stadium by the time this takes place. But it’s vital that all players at least jog, skip, and stretch. It may be the last thing you want to do after an exhausting (but thrilling) 90 minutes – but you have to if you want to be a fit soccer player long-term. Well, that, and a soccer diet – eat healthily, sleep well, and take on enough carbs before a game to last the distance.
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