Conditioning is absolutely vital to overall fitness as well as speed of play and last half effectiveness. Fartlek is a strategy that has proven extremely effective for soccer athletes, male and female. Football, as it is commonly known elsewhere in the world, is one of the oldest team-based sports on the planet. This requires a person to run a little more than the length of an American football field (about 110 yards) continuously for about 90 minutes. It also requires dexterity, flexibility and presence of mind to focus on using the feet and legs as hands and arms. It’s no surprise that soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and it’s also no surprise that strength training and conditioning for soccer is probably more focused than for other sports.
Soccer-specific strength and fitness training is critical to success at the highest levels of the sport, youth or adult. Football players require a combination of aerobic and anaerobic fitness due to the nature of the game and the fact that there is continuous movement with lots of short bursts of more intense activity.
Aerobic fitness is associated with the use of oxygen and anaerobic fitness is associated with work, strength and power. Soccer fitness is a combination of aerobic and anaerobic fitness with further specialization for each individual’s age and condition. Conditioning for football is not a one size fits all program or effort type. It is often necessary to focus on mental training and motor skills when dealing with youth football athletes because conditioning and speed training are not easily linked or have an impact on those younger than the early teen years, except as a Very small and select group. of “premier” level athletes. After puberty, strength and conditioning training can and should have a major impact, although sessions should be focused and moderated based on the age and gender of the soccer athlete. Also remember that strength and conditioning sessions develop a better player, but are no replacement for individual foot skills, vision and teamwork. However, when training is done consistently over a period of months, amazing results are possible.
One form of aerobic fitness training for soccer is called fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish. Fartlek is a form of conditioning that places stress on the aerobic energy system by having the athlete move without stopping for long periods of time. How it differs from regular continuous running and/or circuit training is the variation of motion involved, variation that taxes the body and allows the individual to adapt to stress. Fartlek sessions last about 45 minutes and use everything from walking to sprinting. Fartlek deals with one of the most important things in football: speed of play. Soccer athletes need to accelerate quickly, have a high top speed, react quickly, be able to change direction, and be able to maintain their momentum. Fartlek and plyometrics (exercises that allow muscles to quickly reach maximum force) produce amazing results during an aerobic workout and a relatively short training program.
Anaerobic training for soccer athletes focuses more on maintaining a lean body that is not overly muscular and inflexible. Football requires athletes to possess high speed and endurance, as well as be able to endure the physical pain and punishment that often comes with contact. Push-ups and squats have made up a lot of the old-school approach to soccer strength training. Push-ups develop the muscles of the shoulders and core, and create a more well-rounded athlete. Squats develop power and speed for the legs. However, while great practice, those alone are insufficient for the overall development of top-caliber players.
Conditioning for soccer varies primarily by age rather than gender. It is wrong and does not deal with the very specific needs and differences between men and women, boys and girls. The older a soccer athlete gets, the more he or she will see the benefits of strength and fitness training. However, when administered properly, sex-specific and soccer-specific strength and fitness training can have a dramatic effect on the body and game of youth soccer athletes. A proper conditioning program, combined with strength and fitness training, will keep a player strong and lean, increase their oxygen intake, and increase their playing speed. A proper balance of training, aerobic, such as fartlek, and strength a fitness, such as circuit training, will provide greater control over the body and reduce the risk of injury. Sex-specific, sport-specific strength and fitness training, combined with aerobic training, will increase a player’s strength, stamina, confidence, speed of play, and quality of play. Today’s top athletes, amateur or professional, must find and utilize a balanced program of fitness in order to perform at peak levels.