Soccer, although has always been very popular in other parts of the world, is increasing in its popularity here in the United States. As we all know soccer requires a person to be in tremendous physical shape because a player is constantly running.
Unlike football or other sports in which there is a lot of stop and go soccer has very little to no downtime during game time so an athlete has to be in great physical condition. Running isn’t the only way that a person should get in shape when wanting to play competitively. There are many strength training exercises that are just as important to help with the endurance an athlete will need to play this sport.
These exercises are not only important for FIFA or MLS (Major League Soccer) players but for any player wanting to compete in this sport. It doesn’t matter if you are in a league, school team or traveling team, being in shape will only make you a more successful and competitive player. Make sure while you are getting in shape you wear apparel that will breathe such as apparel that is made with moisture wicking material. Wearing apparel with moisture wicking helps pull the sweat away from your body which will help keep the temperature of your body down which results in being able to work out for longer periods of time. You also don’t end up with a gross, wet t-shirt sticking to your body when you are done with your routine. You can purchase a moisture wicking shirt from pretty much any apparel store and even an online vendor. If you really want to feel motivated while you are getting in shape you could even get a sublimated shirt that will look pretty cool and when you feel like you look cool it gives you the confidence to push through the tough workouts. You could even get your entire team to invest in some sublimated shirts so while you are all practicing you can all look united as a team.
Make sure before you being any exercise regime that you warm up for at least five or ten minutes before starting so you can get your heart rate up. You should spend the five or ten minutes with doing light jogging and stretches. Once you spend five to ten minutes doing light jogging and stretching and you feel you have gotten your heart rate up you can begin your 30 minute warm up by loosening up and doing some strengthening of your lower body and some balance exercises. These would include things such as squats, straight leg walking with band around your ankles, single leg toe touches, jump backwards, sideways and forward and you can do single leg hops.
The most obvious of exercise would be cardio. Make sure you are not straining your muscles while you are doing your cardio. It is important to take long steps and make sure you get your heart rate to about 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Running doesn’t just mean running on a treadmill or running for miles. You can run an obstacle course. This will not only build your cardio endurance but it will build your agility while working your abs. A type of obstacle course that would be beneficial for training for soccer would be to set up six to 10 cones five to ten yard apart making sure they are parallel. Start at the first set of cones and using short, quick steps move to the second cone. Stop very suddenly and jog backward to the first set of cones. Then jog forward to the third set of cones and then jog backwards to the second set. Continue to do this in a two cone forward one cone backward session until you have reached the last set of cones. Two times is what is recommended to do this exercise in a session.
Doing plyometrics training is just as important and beneficial as doing cardio. When you build muscle it helps you to run faster and gives you better endurance. One great exercise for plyometric power is to take a sturdy box that is about one to two feet high (you can increase this as you increase you power) and with your feet together and swinging your arms to give you more momentum jump up on and off the box ten times in a row. You can switch sides and jump from the other side as well. You can even increase the height and jump over the box if you want to add something new.
Combining plyometrics and running in intervals is a very good cardio and strength training exercise all in one. You can start by running in slow motion (think Chariots of Fire) and then leaping for a length of ten to twenty feet when you land bend your knees and jump as high as you can. Then you can jog slowly for about five to ten minutes and then run as fast as you can the length of the soccer field. Continue doing this for about thirty minutes.
Of course there are probably other exercises you can do to help you get in shape for soccer but these three exercises will give you the maximum benefit of both strength and cardio which are two aspects that are critical in being able to be effective during a game. If you do these exercises you will probably surprise not just yourself but your coach and other teammates with your endurance. An added benefit is you will probably get more playing time because you won’t be the one needing to come off the field for a rest.