Are you fit enough to play your next match? Getting match fit involves a lot of determination and discipline to go through the proper physical fitness training. The pre-season training is physically demanding, sometimes requiring even more from players than the match itself.
Training to be match fit involves plenty of anaerobic or stop/start exercises as soccer is anaerobic in nature, where the muscles work for short, fast bursts without oxygen. This means the exercises must also be specific to soccer. If you’re looking to be match fit before your next game, here are the things you should do.
Rebuild and improve stamina
To help you keep up with play and last on the field as long as necessary, you’ll require plenty of stamina. A 20-minute run three times a week is a good start, then increase the duration every week until you can jog at a steady pace for 60 minutes without stopping. Another set of exercises you can do to improve your endurance is 20 minutes of jogging, walking, sprinting and three-quarter pace runs. Do a 20-metre sprint from a starting point, walk back, run to a 40-metre marker at a three-quarter pace, then jog back to the starting point.
You’ll need power from your lower body muscles such as the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings and glutes to perform explosive moves like jumping and sprinting. To build lower body strength, do squats, single-leg squats, split squats and calf raises. Upper body strength is important too, so do crunches with other upper-body training using both free and machine weights.
Do plyometric exercises
Fitness trainers at soccer clubs suggest doing plyometrics to train fast-muscle fibres and nerves for bursts of speed and power. Also called jump training, plyometrics is a good cardio workout that also increases leg strength. Do 6-metre sprints at least once a week and increase the repetitions as you get stronger. You can also do split jumps by lowering into a lunge position, jumping as high as you can and switching your legs to land in a lunge with the opposite leg now in front.
Work on balance
Training for better balance isn’t just for stability but also for improved skills in passing, tackling and kicking. The most basic balance training may be simple and can be done anywhere, and it works: stand on a level surface. Raise one leg up and hold this position for 30 seconds, then do the same with the other leg.
Strengthen your ankles
The ankles are the parts of the body most prone to injury in sports, especially soccer. To strengthen your ankles, stand with the balls of your feet on a step and rise up on your toes. Hold this position for 10 counts then lower your heels gently as far as you can. Make sure you stay in control of the movement. Do this exercise 10 times three times a week.
As you can see, getting match fit for soccer requires you to develop explosive power, have excellent cardiovascular fitness and gain strength. With a good workout plan, frequent workout sessions and a proper recovery period, you’ll be able to get ready before your next match as fast as possible without suffering an injury.