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Conditioning Requirement

Soccer is a game in which players must utilize all energy systems during games, most importantly the numerous sprints whereby taxing the immediate energy systems (Phosphagen and Fast Glycolysis systems) on short and long sprints. Approximately, 1/4 to 1/3 of the total yardage covered in a match is at a walk or a jog. Speed endurance works on the athlete lactic threshold by giving shorter amounts of rest during treadmill sessions. Interval training would be the best way to train all energy systems. The old wives tale that running miles is the only way to train aerobically is history.

In designing a sport-specific training routine, knowing which energy systems provide the majority of fuel for the competition is the starting point of program design. A soccer game lasts 90 minutes (with up to 30 minutes overtime), during which the average soccer player will cover 2,000-9,000 yards. The duration of the game and the distance covered require aerobic endurance. However, the average distance covered in a continuous run is only 5 to 30 yards (usually around 10). Therefore the typical work/rest ratio between running/sprinting/walking in soccer is 1:3:2. The ability to perform repeated fast sprints over time requires a trait known as anaerobic capacity or high intensity exercise endurance (HIEE). Anaerobic capacity is simply the ability to perform very high workloads repeatedly. If you want to develop both aerobic endurance and HIEE as required in soccer, the answer is interval training.

Interval training entails high work levels interspersed with periods of low activity or rest. Training in intervals allows one to run at higher intensities than those that could be maintained continuously. This training develops not only HIEE, but also increases cardiovascular endurance in a similar degree as continuous endurance activity. Periodization of the soccer running program can be accomplished by varying work/rest intervals, total number of sprints, and frequency of sprint training in an integrated manner with the resistance-training program.

  • Deceleration/Changing Direction - Soccer challenges the player to stop, change direction and receive a ball while moving at a high rate of speed. Many players have difficulty performing this skill effectively and consistently while maintaining their game focus. Deceleration is a skill we will focus on by emphasizing body position and proper mechanics all while changing direction. When changing direction, the hips should be low to the ground and the athlete should use both feet to drive off so they change direction explosively.
  • Starting Speed (Acceleration) – To a soccer player this might be the single most important skill to learn. Soccer is a game in which a player is constantly moving but most of running is short sprints (5 to 10 yards) with many changes of direction. Having an explosive first step on the field will make the difference between getting to the ball or not. An athlete needs to be able to perform the same explosive sprinting style time and time again, this is known as sprint endurance. When training, sprint endurance concentrates on performing linear drills and combining lateral skills with acceleration. This is more functional to the player because the player rarely runs in straight line (common sense right?).
  • Strength training - One of the most overlooked aspects in the game of soccer, is the importance of overall physical conditioning. It has been my experience that many soccer coaches understand the benefits of strength training, but view it as secondary to skill training or simply misunderstand its importance in the game. Contrary to popular belief, strength training has a positive effect on an athlete's speed and explosive power. In addition, strength training helps to reduce injuries and aids in a faster recovery should the unfortunate occur. Williams Soccer can and will prove this as they have many times before.