Football is a sport where conditioning is of great importance to maximize performance.
At the start of the pre-season, most coaches today focus heavily on building an aerobic base that prepares players for the season.
building an aerobic base
The term “aerobic base” has been used frequently over the last 10–20 years, and the reason for building this base is evidence that a player runs 8–12 km during a soccer game over a period of 90 minutes.
So far, so good. But when it comes to the distance covered during a football game, shouldn’t we really be focusing on how we got there, instead of just focusing on the distance?
Is actual distance the most important aspect?
Sure, a professional soccer player may run 11-12km during a game, but this distance is not covered through long distance running at the same pace throughout the game, quite the contrary.
What separates a world-class athlete from an average athlete is not necessarily the distance covered, but the number of high-intensity runs and sprints performed.
long distance running will make your players slow and weak
If you still think running long distances is the way to go for soccer conditioning, this will hopefully change your mind.
Running long distances will stimulate your slow-twitch muscle fibers, which means your body is performing at slow speeds during long-distance running, and over time your fast-twitch muscle fibers will “sink”. will go, making you slower and weaker.
Football is a “power-sport”, where sprinting, maximum power, and jumping ability are of utmost importance. Running long distances will do the opposite for your players and make them weak and slow.
Is an aerobic base needed?
Not in the traditional way via long distance running. My philosophy on football conditioning is that it should all be done on the football field, and most of the conditioning should be sport-specific, meaning most of it should be done with the ball.
However, during the start of pre-season, I build an aerobic base through tempo running,
Tempo running is where players run at about 75-80% of the distance they run when running. The distances I use for tempo running are 100m (the length of a football field) and 200m (back and forth).
The rule of thumb for distance and time is:
– 100m: 18-22 sec
– 200m: 38-44 sec
So if they do a 100m tempo run, they should run at a pace where it takes them 18-22 seconds to run 100m.
I use tempo runs for 3-4 weeks, 2-3 sessions/week, increasing distance with 200-300m per workout. I coach a boys 18 team, so if you coach younger players, be a little more careful with the volume.
The first session might be 8 x 100m, and then the next 10 x 100m, and then I’ll run 200m with 100m in the same session.
I often have players rest for 2 minutes halfway through, and then have them run the rest of the distance.
tempo running This will help you build the aerobic base needed for soccer, and ensure that your players still remain strong and explosive.