While in general, the best training for soccer is soccer, specific conditioning activities can help enhance a players' physical skills. The more time a youth player spends in conditioning work, the more she will have the requisite strength to fend off challenge on the soccer pitch.
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Movement in soccer requires speed, agility, acceleration, deceleration and multidirectional running. Shuttle runs as a conditioning tool require the use of five cones set 10 yards apart. Direct the players to run from cone one to two and then back to one as quickly as possible. This is repeated from one to three, one to four and one to five. For a variation, players can run backwards or sideways.
Soccer requires a strong core and strong legs. To condition these areas, place a ball or cone on the ground and have the player stand next to the ball. Instruct players to keep their feet and knees together while jumping over the ball to land on the opposite side. Quickly jump back to start position. Players should repeat for 30 to 60 seconds.
To increase power in a soccer player’s legs, have the players stand tall with their feet lined up underneath their hips. Direct players to bend their knees into a squatting position, bring their arms behind their bodies, and immediately jump up and forward. As soon as they land, they should minimize contact with the ground and jump again. This can be completed across the width of the field.
Traditional pushups help to develop core and upper body strength. Athletes should kneel on ground with their hands underneath their shoulders. If they have the strength, instruct players to straighten their legs and press toes into the ground, otherwise they should remain on their knees. On an inhale, players bend their elbows, lowering their chest towards the ground. Using an exhale, players straighten their arms returning to start position. This can be repeated based on the yout players' comfort level.
Circuit or interval training uses a combination of movement and strength exercises. Athletes alternate a speed drill with a strength drill at various increments of time, for example, two minutes of shuttle runs followed by two minutes of pushups. This can be repeated or followed by another grouping, such as pendulum swings and ball jumps.