Soccer Fitness – No More Long Boring Cardio Runs

In this day and age soccer conditioning is very different from what it used to be many years ago. In the past players would run laps, go for 30 – 45 minute cardio runs to get into shape for the soccer season. That was fine then, but as time goes on training changes and performance changes.

Youth soccer coaches who keep up to date with current soccer fitness training strategies avoid sending their players out for those boring cardio runs. Instead they develop practices that are up tempo and at game pace.

The two most common things we see in soccer games are sprints and sprints with recovery. This occurs at all ages regardless if they 8 or 18 male of female.

If you send your players out for a 30-45 minute conditioning run, this will only lead to slowness, weakness and injury. Unfortunately I have been on the treating end of players with these conditions because of misinformed coaches or parents.

How many soccer players do you know suffer from Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and knee pain on and off the soccer pitch? How many of your players continue to pull their hamstrings and quadriceps muscles? If this is happening a lot you may wish to look at the training you are doing with them.

So how do we correct these problems or prevent them from happening in the first place?

Train your players the way the game is played. Soccer is played with interval sprints and recovery. The soccer player sprints for 10-20 yards receives the ball and then either passes off or carries and then passes it off. The soccer player needs to be in good condition to do all of this. Since pace of the game continuously changes, so should the training at practice.

Interval type training and sprints is more effective for soccer fitness for several reasons:

1) soccer is a game of burst of energy with recovery

2) this training prepares the muscular system for games

3) this training prepares the nervous system for games

4) this training prepares the energy systems for games

5) this training prepares the mind for the grind

As compared to the steady state cardio training this type of training prepares players for game pace and tempo. It is a more specific type of training. Not only that players need to have the strength to train with sprints and interval work. Any soccer player can go out and complete a 25 minute jog.

If you look at the body mechanics of a jog there is little range of motion occurring at the hip, knee and ankle joints. This only occurs if a sprint is included in the jog. On the other hand, sprints and interval training can be done by changing the type of movement that occurs.

Soccer fitness includes stops, starts, change of direction, side shuffles, forward and backward movements. These movements are similar to the actions on the soccer field and prepare the body for game time.

In conclusion, the days of sending soccer players out for boring cardio runs is over. The more effective way for training these athletes is through sprints and interval runs.