Soccer is a highly athletic sport requiring significant conditioning. Combined with excellent ball-handling skills, you need endurance to outlast the clock and become a top player. Proper cardiovascular training is needed to optimize performance and maintain stamina. Design a program that works both the anaerobic and aerobic systems to optimize speed, power and endurance.
Aerobic Versus Anaerobic Training
Aerobic activities require your body to use oxygen. Anaerobic activities do not use oxygen. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, aerobic exercise requires the body to take in oxygen, deliver it to the lungs, transfer it into the blood and pump it to the working muscles, where it is utilized to oxidize carbohydrates and fats in order to produce ATP, your energy source. Anaerobic training makes use of the stored ATP in your muscles and liver and produces ATP using creatine phosphate.
Soccer Conditioning Requirements
Soccer is a combination aerobic and anaerobic sport. The NASM says 50 percent of a soccer game will require anaerobic energy sources and 50 percent will require aerobic energy sources. Soccer players typically cover about six miles of ground in an average game. Soccer Training Info says this includes approximately 2 1/2 miles jogging, 1.2 miles running, and 1.5 miles walking. Based upon these statistics, it is vital for you to train both energy systems equally.
When starting your soccer conditioning program, include exercises that work both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Training both systems in the off-season, preseason and in-season is important to maintain fitness levels year-round without having to start over at the beginning of each season. Include aerobic training three times per week in the off-season and once per week in-season. Include anaerobic training twice per week as you build up from preseason to in-season. Include strength training two times per week year-round to maintain strength and prevent injury.
Aerobic Training Exercises
Aerobic training is intuitive to most people. You need to find an exercise that will keep your heart rate between 65 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for at least 30 minutes. Activities such as jogging, riding a bicycle, using an elliptical machine, swimming or using a rowing machine can help achieve an increased heart rate for a proper length of time. During the off-season, choose non-impact exercises to maintain aerobic fitness and help prevent repetitive injury. Preseason and in-season conditioning should use exercises that most simulate a soccer game.
Anaerobic Training Exercises
Anaerobic exercises require your heart rate to fluctuate during the workout. Anaerobic exercises are also known as interval training. In this system, increase your heart rate to above 85 percent of your maximum and maintain it for short bursts before returning to a recovery heart rate between 60 and 80 percent. There are several different interval models that require your heart rate to stay in the anaerobic level for either a longer and shorter duration. Intervals can be done while running, using an elliptical machine, biking or rowing. As with aerobic training, use non-impact activities in the off-season and running activities in the preseason and in-season.