T Nation

Training a Soccer Team

My college soccer (football) team started training last week. Most of the players were woefully unfit having spent most of the summer sitting on their behinds. I?ve been doing some powerlifting, sprinting, strongman events and some EDT stuff so I?m actually in pretty good shape at the moment. I?ve been running rings around everybody else. I?ve got a reputation in college as ?the guy that trains? too.

As a result I?ve been asked to take the fitness training sessions. I can encourage some weights room activities but the group sessions that I would take would be on a soccer pitch with the guys, footballs and some cones. These guys aren?t suddenly going to take up training ?T? style. I would really appreciate some practical ideas for what I could do during the group training sessions. Any fun drills or activities etc?

One more thing: should static stretching be included in the warm up for soccer?

This is a pretty simple one.

Mix up running with body weight exercises.

Sprint length of field, do 20 push ups (press ups), jog back, do 20 lunges (10 each leg), rest and go again.

Mix it up and get creative.

Use what I call “maze runs.” set the cones up in a wild zig-zag pattern and run it a few times in both directions, will help with change of direction.

Add in skill work once fatigue sets in - imitates the second half. Sprint 30m, do 20 lunges, juggle the ball for 60 seconds (to recover) and go again. Sprint 100m, dribble cones at speed, play a wall pass, do a somersault, chase a ball down and shoot on goal.

By the way, I’m 38, still actively play and coached soccer for 18 years.

Great advise above, you may also want to cycle in some sled dragging and parachute sprints.

Well a more european approach would be to try to integrate skill based training into the fitness work far more. The ideas here are good but its still seperating ballwork and fitness work a lot. Gone are the days of 10 laps round the field for fitness then a match. Nowadays most fitness training is short sharp stuff using the ball. Small sided games, quick ball drills etc. Remember football is more anaerobic, short sprints and then fast recovery rather than endurance. Better to incorporate a lot of ball work.

A small sided game or drill can tire you out as much as any fitness drill but you are working on technical ability as well.

There are plyometric stuff, speed stuff, maybe strongman or medicine ball work that can’t really be done with a ball but do you really want to have more than 30 minutes or so of that type of work in a session?

Athlete’s Performance has a soccer specific workout DVD available through their website.

That might be a good place to start.

This is excellent stuff so far.

From what I’ve read of various soccer coaches the debate seems to be centered around whether or not to include ball work in the fitness training sessions.

I think a combination of both would be useful. I agree with a poster above that 5-a-side football is very useful. It’s great for fitness if played on a large pitch and it is very effective at improving touch and speed of thought on small pitches.

I like the idea of sprints with changing directions too. Very “functional” lol.

I also think that a little bit of stongman training training would be effective but getting access to equipment would be a problem. I improvise with my strongman training but I’m not sure that 20 guys can all do that together.

[quote]tj14 wrote:
By the way, I’m 38, still actively play and coached soccer for 18 years.[/quote]

Thanks for the advice. Sounds like you have plenty of experience!

[quote]ConorM wrote:
Well a more european approach would be to try to integrate skill based training into the fitness work far more. The ideas here are good but its still seperating ballwork and fitness work a lot. Gone are the days of 10 laps round the field for fitness then a match. Nowadays most fitness training is short sharp stuff using the ball. Small sided games, quick ball drills etc. Remember football is more anaerobic, short sprints and then fast recovery rather than endurance. Better to incorporate a lot of ball work.

[/quote]

I agree that 10 laps of the pitch is boring and isn’t all that productive. I think it depends on position as to whether or not you can classify football as aerobic or anaerobic. I play in central midfield and I think it’s more aerobic for me. Same for fullbacks. I think strikers and center backs will probably do more anaerobic work though. It probably makes sense to have different regimes for different positions I suppose… interesting!

About the 10 laps and windsprint things:

There certainly are more economical (time efficient) and soccer-specifc methods to cardiovascular training, but a very real reason you runs sprints and do laps is to build comraderie, competition and character amongst the team members.

Pair up the team by speed and have them race each other. The fastest runs alone on the first sprint. The winner of each race moves up. So on the second sprint, the fastest races the winner of 2 vs. 3. and the loser of 2 vs. 3 races the winner of 4 v 5 and so on.

Try giving John Davies a shout, im pretty that in his days when he was training teams, soccer was one of the sports that he was involved in in europe, maybe he could give ya some advice