Whatever kind of soccer exercises your working on, the fitness of your players is the key to success. By simply participating in training, players’ physical condition will improve but aside from ball skills and tactics, it’s well-worth paying special attention to activities designed to improve soccer fitness.
Soccer exercises focus on one of the following aspects of fitness:
If you want to improve endurance or stamina, you need to work on aerobic exercises that strengthen the cardiovascular system and increase the heart rate, speed up breathing and raise body temperature. The most obvious aerobic activity is jogging, which is an excellent choice as a warm-up in any soccer training programme. However, players should also be encouraged to do other stamina-increasing sports, such as swimming, cycling, horse riding or even yoga.
Another characteristic of soccer is that it involves anaerobic activity, which is when energy is expended in short bursts. Fast acceleration and sprinting speed is definitely required of a soccer player, and can be practiced through short sprint activities or by simply incorporating sprint-trot sections into a team jog.
Anaerobic soccer exercises also help to develop strength and can be worked on in the gym or in circuit training. As soccer is an inevitably physical sport, the stronger your players are, the less likely they are to get hurt. For this reason, it’s important to work on upper body strength along with specific exercises that focus on the leg strength needed to kick a ball effectively. Working out with weights and step exercises, for example, will both improve stamina and develop strength.
Finally, flexibility is important for a soccer player not only in order to beat the opponent but also because one of the best ways to avoid injury is to get out of the way before any damage is done. Consequently, soccer exercises that involve stretching, moving to music or are inspired by yoga should also be part of any integrated training schedule.
Whilst not suggesting that ball skills and tactics or attitude and motivation are unimportant, the fact remains that a fit player is likely to be both highly-motivated and capable of playing above his or her skill level.