Soccer players competing at almost all levels follow a training program. This is largely due to the fact that soccer players need to have a high level of stamina, be able to make quick, sharp movements and have strong muscles. Athletes in the World Cup follow intense training regimens to prepare for their competition.
Training to be a soccer player doesn’t look the same for everyone or every position. However, there are a few guidelines and tips to follow that will help improve your fitness and reduce your chance of injury.
What are good exercises for soccer players?
Dr. Matthew Lavery, OrthoIndy sports medicine physician, recommends athletes frequently change their types of workouts.
“The number one way to reduce the chance of injury is to avoid performing the same high intensity types of exercise, involving the same muscle groups on consecutive days,” said Dr. Lavery. “In other words, cross-training can be beneficial to strengthen different muscle groups and different skill sets when athletes are preparing for a sport.”
For example, a typical training regimen might include the following:
- Interval training: Incorporating workouts that include high intensity running such as sprints followed by a short recovery jog. It helps you gain top speed and recover your energy quickly.
- Endurance running: On your recovery days, it’s beneficial to get thirty minutes to an hour slow jog, bike ride or swimming session in. This helps build endurance and lets your muscles rest and recover.
- Agility training: Running suicides or doing ladder drills can help you become quicker on your feet. It also helps you change directions faster, which is crucial for a soccer player.
- Weight training: Light weight training for your arms and core is helpful so you can kick the ball with strength and fight off defenders.
- Playing soccer and scrimmaging: The best way to get in shape for soccer is by playing the sport and supplementing it with other types of workouts.
- Work on technical skills: Practicing ball skills can help with your balance and increase your foot skills which helps you keep possession of the ball.
Dr. Lavery suggests focusing on training your whole body. “We frequently recommend varying upper body and lower body workouts on alternate days, high intensity verse low intensity running from one day to another, and working on skill development versus strength development on alternate days,” said Dr. Lavery.
How long does it take to get fit for soccer?
Not everyone should go through the same soccer training program. It will take a few months to get into top soccer shape. Not only do you have to build strength in all your muscle groups, you need to build your endurance as well.
To prevent injury, gradually increase the intensity of your workouts at a slow pace. It’s important to train five to six days a week to gain soccer fitness, making sure you have one to two rest days a week.
Rest days are important to incorporate in your training schedule so you don’t overtrain and increase your risk of injury. If you are feeling extremely fatigued or having an aching pain, take an extra rest day to let your body fully recover.
“One of the key things we try to stress with athletes is to have them recognize the difference between the discomfort associated with intense training and the pain of an injury,” said Dr. Lavery.
“More seasoned athletes develop this knowledge through experience. Athletes who are newer to a sport may not have the same level of experience to help them differentiate between the two and recognize a developing injury. It is always wise to error on the side of changing to a different activity, resting or seeking advice from experienced coaches, athletic trainers or a physician when there is a question of an impending injury.”
How many hours a day should you practice soccer?
To prevent overtraining, you should only train two to three hours a day.
Create a schedule for yourself so you can track how much you are practicing. You can always adjust the amount of time you are practicing, depending on how your body feels.
Dr. Lavery said, “Varying the intensity of training and the muscle groups being trained can significantly reduce the chances of sustaining a significant injury.”
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