Soccer is a game that requires extensive conditioning. This is because soccer players are constantly running during games and they also have to do different types of running like sprinting, medium speed running, and slower running like jogging. Furthermore, soccer games are long, two 40-45 minute halves. So, players must be excellent shape or else they will not be able to run strongly for the whole game. If not, a player may be tired during the games’ end, which is the most important part of the game. Even worse, if the player is out-of-shape, the coach may take the player out of the game.
One of the most important ways to keep your legs in shape is through a good exercise regime. However, what is the best type of exercise for a successful soccer player? Based upon what I have learned about exercise and in analyzing the type of conditioning program that would be most appropriate for a soccer player, I would conclude that the type of conditioning a soccer player needs is primarily aerobic with some anaerobic exercises. This is because of the all of the running that a soccer player must do. Soccer players must have excellent endurance and therefore need a very high VO2 max.
The game of soccer is also played near the lactate threshold, which means approximately 80-90% of the maximum heart rate. Thus, to effectively do all of this running, a soccer player must have extremely good cardiovascular fitness. This type of fitness is best developed by aerobic exercise, which is exercise lasting over 30 minutes. One of the most important forms of aerobic exercise is running, which is exactly what a soccer player has to be good at in order to be an effective player. Aerobic exercises are designed to improve the cardiovascular system and the efficiency of the heart.
As we discussed, aerobic means with air, so these exercises involve those that help the body supply muscles with oxygen during work. Part of the goal of these exercises is to increase the VO2 max, or the ability of the body to transport oxygen to the muscles. The greater the aerobic capacity of a player the more ground that can be covered during a soccer game. In order to apply this knowledge to effective soccer conditioning, it is important to utilize a combination of running and soccer exercises to maximize cardiovascular development.
One component is long distance running. For soccer conditioning this may be running 2 miles at 50-60% effort, once or twice a week. This type of running improves cardiorespiratory endurance and strengthens the heart, the circulation and the lungs. The next level of aerobic exercise is running 1 mile at 60-80% effort once or twice a week. This drill improves glycogen burning, lactate tolerance and removal. This will help the soccer player sustain a higher level of intense activity, but it will also provide aerobic fitness.
During the season, soccer players need to run both short and long distances. The long distance running can either be a formal regime like the one described above or something as simple as running laps around the soccer field. There also is a need to run sprints, both long and short sprints, combined with sudden stops, cuts, turns and other movements that emulate what a player does on the field during the game. All of these drills build the power and explosiveness that a player will need to make effective moves on the field and get open for shots or passes.
These sorts of sprinting drills are commonly made parts of practice where coaches have players run wind sprints or suicide drills in between cones. In our soccer club we sometimes run a test called the beep test in which we have to run short distances at increasingly shorter periods of time based on the rate of the beeps, so that eventually we are sprinting very fast as the beeps get shorter and shorter. This is a very tough drill and you have to be in very good shape to keep up with the beep test.
By maintaining this program of running, a player will be able to run at the level needed for competitive soccer. Of course, another form of aerobic exercise is actually playing the game of soccer and this can be accomplished in practices by having players break up into small teams that play within a small area. Games go on for some period of time, with teams rotating in and out. In this way, players get lots of sustained running (aerobic exercise) but also work on their other important skills.
Most of the exercises mentioned above are aerobic and I believe that these are the most important type of exercise for soccer. However, some anaerobic exercises are also important for soccer. These are primarily short intense sprints separated by some jogging. The idea is to be able to sprint at high speeds and recover quickly, just like on the soccer field. Shuttle runs are a good example of anaerobic exercises where sprints are separated by short periods of rest.
It is clear that a top level competitive soccer player needs to develop an excellent cardiovascular system and good aerobic conditioning is critical for this. This means getting the heart, lungs and circulatory system working at peak efficiency. I found an interesting analogy between this and the workings of an automobile. This can be viewed like a car that functions well, with the lungs providing the fuel, the heart the pump, the blood carrying the energy (oxygen and glucose) and driving the legs (wheels).
Like keeping a car tuned up to run well, a soccer player must keep their body fit and the critical parts working at maximum efficiency to be an effective player. Though running is not my favorite form of exercise, it is clear that to get the necessary aerobic exercise needed to be a good soccer player, running must play a key part. This analysis has made me more aware of this than ever. References cited http://www. expertfootball. com/training/stamina. php http://www. sport-fitness-advisor. com/soccer-conditioning. html Soccer Book for Dummies