No matter what level you may be at, fitness is absolutely essential in order to make the most of any football drills. This is true all the way from the lowest junior through to full adult player and makes no difference for either age or gender. Regardless of which tactical position a player holds, the vast majority of a 90 minute match involves off-the-ball play. Sure when training everyone wants to practice ball skills, but those who are in good physical shape will find that their practice sessions deliver much better results.
In this article, we’ll examine the fitness routines that should be implemented into all football drills. Sure players will moan – but fact is that professional teams spend the vast majority of their training time focusing on fitness ahead of skills and tactical drills. Get the former right, and the latter will come far more naturally.
1) Variable Speed Running
Soccer requires players to be capable of explosive turns of pace. Being able to turn from a slow jog into a full belt sprint is a key attribute relevant to any position on the pitch. Incorporating this into training enhances aerobic flexibility, strengthens muscles and toughens up those all important ligaments.
The good news is that it’s easy to do. Over a twenty minute session carry out the following (often referred to as the Fartlek Method).
Run at a standard steady pace for a couple of minutes. Lower speed down to walking for twenty seconds, then full belt sprint for ten seconds. Reduce speed down to standard running/jogging again and repeat.
This emulates exactly the kind of speed pattern that most players will encounter during an actual match. Performed regularly this simple exercise is fantastic for endurance and fitness, both of which are always a major advantage later on in the match.
2) Step Jumping
These are straightforward and quick enough to be implemented even into a typical warm-up routine.
Simply may out a cone or marker in front of each player. From a standing position jump over the obstacle and aim to land squarely on both feet. Turn around right away and repeat. Perform three or four sets of six repetitions with a ten second break between each.
Basic as it may seem, this is a form of impact training that is excellent for enhancing the strength of all major muscles groups throughout the legs. Plenty of reward for just a couple of minutes effort.
3) Cone Weaving
This can be done with or without the ball depending upon the focus of your drill. In terms of fitness though it’s best done without, at least for the early stages. Here the focus is upon aerobic flexibility, especially making hips flexible and capable of swiftly shifting direction.
Lay out a serious of cones in a rectangular shape. Spread the distance between them equally on the longer sides, but much closer at the ends. This encourages players to be able to rapidly shift from weaving between steady distances and more intense, faster turns of pace.
A straightforward drill like this is best used early in a training session as it helps release any muscle tension, and done well gets the blood pumping nice and fast!
4) Aerobic Starting
This is again a football drill designed to emulate match conditions. Over a track set up the following course:
* Start with five push-ups.
* Dribble with the ball for 30 yards, alternating touches with both feet.
* Pass the ball to the trainer who returns it to the next player.
* Sprint back to the beginning and repeat.
These simple, largely off-the-ball routines can be incorporated into any football drill and regular repetition will not just enhance a player’s fitness, but also their performance on the pitch and contribution to the team.