How to Build Stamina for Soccer

Adopting a good stamina workout for soccer players will help to build your endurance and fine-tune your playing skills. When the game gets intense, you'll be able to draw on your energy reserves and pull out your best performance.

Stamina is very important in soccer.
Credit: fotokostic/iStock/GettyImages

Distance That Soccer Players Run

Soccer players are known for their well-honed running skills and endurance. But just how much distance do players cover during a game? A July 2018 study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, used GPS technology to gauge elite Greek soccer players' running performance during a second division professional league match.

Based on the GPS-sourced data, researchers found that in the match's first half, players totaled greater distances at every speed level but walking.

Specifically, players covered 2940.4 meters (1.83 miles) in the first half compared to 2581.5 meters (1.60 miles) in the match's second half. Speeds included jogging, various speeds of running and sprinting. Wide players and midfielders collectively covered more distance than forwarders and defenders.

Why Soccer Players Need Stamina

During a 90-minute soccer game, players frequently alternate between jogging, running, sprinting and backpedaling as they travel the playing field. To keep up this strenuous pace, each player needs a high level of general fitness, aerobic capacity and stamina. To achieve those goals, they must regularly challenge themselves with an endurance workout for soccer players.

According to the August 2014 study in the Strength and Conditioning Journal, this intensive game conditioning regimen includes a heavy focus on aerobic activities such as jogging and running at varied speeds.

Besides these soccer cardio workouts, effective endurance training should include repetitions of high-intensity sprints, jumps and kicks. Putting it into perspective, a superbly conditioned soccer player should be able to meet every demand the game throws at him, from the beginning to the end of the match.

Stamina Workout for Soccer Players

To meet the demands of a 90-minute soccer match, each player must consistently engage in an endurance workout for soccer players. This three-pronged approach begins with an emphasis on building your cardiovascular capacity.

Simply put, you want your body's circulatory and respiratory systems to provide your muscles with sufficient oxygen during periods of extended physical activity (e.g., a soccer match).

Next, your endurance workout for soccer players should include some sprint work. These soccer cardio workouts challenge your body to adapt to a soccer game's rapidly shifting demands. In other words, you want to be capable of kicking it into high gear at a moment's notice. To prepare your body for the challenge, engage in varied-length sprinting drills, with only a seconds-long rest period between bursts.

Finally, throw in some high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which incorporates a high-energy burst of activity that's quickly followed by a recovery period. The interval lengths are open to interpretation, and can range from only a few seconds to several minutes. As an added bonus, HIIT training is adaptable to many types of sports, so add it to the list of soccer cardio workouts.

Read more: How to Increase Running Speed & Distance

Get 'Match Fit' for Soccer

Your "match fit" stamina workout for soccer players should include five important components. Josh Hewett, a personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist, recommends a structured endurance program that blends low- and high-intensity exercises. A well-rounded strength training program improves your agility and balance, revs up your metabolism and increases your explosive power.

Next, focus on agility and speed, as fine tuning these skills helps you to maneuver in tight situations and get to the ball before your opponent. To do that, perform varied power-based exercises for your lower and upper body.

A well-constructed circuit-training program, augmented by higher intervals and agility drills, is a good bet. For enhanced flexibility and range of motion, prepare for each workout (or match) with an energetic warm-up. Include some stretching time in your after-workout cool down.

Read more: Health Benefits of Muscular Strength & Endurance

A good nutrition program helps fuel your workouts and game performance. Eat four to six balanced smaller meals and/or snacks daily, and consume food after your workouts. Reduce starch-based carbohydrates; and knock off the sugar and junk food. Finally, increase your water intake, as that helps you to stay hydrated and keep your body's systems functioning properly.

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