Having multiple skills is essential for a soccer player. But physical fitness is much more crucial if you want to excel in the game and dominate the field. Unless you’re fit, it becomes practically impossible to outrun your opponents and utilize the techniques you have to your advantage. Sorry to say this, but no matter how good your players are at ball control, dribbling, shooting, and all of that, they won’t add much value to the team if they are unfit.
Balancing the two is vital. That’s why it’s essential for coaches and trainers to add conditioning drills for soccer to other workout activities.
What is conditioning in soccer?
Most people tend to confuse conditioning with strength building. While strength training is exercising to build your physical strength, conditioning increases your cardiovascular system’s performance. Soccer fitness drills train and strengthen your heart and other components of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Fatiguing during the game is natural, and it happens to both amateurs and pros. But if your players have to catch their breath every couple of seconds, it will be tough for them to play on a competitive level. Soccer conditioning workouts help in building the high level of fitness that the game requires. This boosts stamina, which helps develop psychological endurance and confidence.
Bear in mind that the players won’t always have the ball in an actual match. Therefore, to determine which conditioning drills for soccer to add to your workout routine, you want to mix exercises that involve the ball and soccer cardio drills without the ball using Blazepod to tackle any conditioning gaps your players might face.
Soccer conditioning drills to try today
1. Pain shuttles
Pain shuttles, also known as yo-yo’s or doggies, are among the most popular soccer running drills for boosting endurance. This is a constant go-and-stop type of exercise that mimics the short races involved in soccer. Besides endurance, these soccer practice drills also help develop speed, acceleration, deceleration, and agility. You can also add a ball to the exercise, and this will increase the player’s ball control at speed too.
How to Set Up
- Place 5 cones or markers 5 yards apart in a single line.
- The players need to warm up nicely before starting these soccer fitness drills.
How to Execute
Start by sprinting from cone 1 to cone 2. Touch the cone and turn around fast to run back to cone 1. Touch cone 1 and then sprint to cone 3. Touch it and return to cone 1. Touch cone 1 and dash to cone 4. Touch the cone and sprint back to 1. Touch cone and sprint to cone 5. Touch it and turn around fast to cone 1. This will make one repetition that totals to about 200 yards. Let the player take a 30-second rest before making another rep, followed by another 30-second rest and one more repetition. 3 reps make one set. After the first set, the player rests for 2 minutes before completing another set.
You can vary this exercise by asking the players to backpedal to cone 1 and sprinting while dribbling the ball. Encourage them to run at top speed for quick results. Use the Blazepod app and pods to get accurate readings and track the progress of your athletes.
2. On-ball off-ball running drills for soccer
The next exercise is worth adding to your soccer fitness training drills with the ball for several reasons. This is a type of interval run, just like the drill above, only that it involves touching the ball for some moment and getting some fitness off the ball the other second.
This drill sharpens your team's ability to run with the ball and change direction, speed, and pace almost instantly. Even good defenders have trouble dealing with a player who is capable of doing this. This means that your team will have more scoring opportunities at better positions.
How to Set Up
- Use 4 cones to make a square grid measuring 13x13 yards. You can adjust this distance depending on how long you want the sprints to be.
- Place another cone in the middle.
How to Execute
- Let the players start by warming up (that is if they haven’t) to make this workout more effective.
- Starting from the middle cone, the player dribbles the ball to one of the outside cones, goes around it, and comes back to the middle cone.
- Let the player leave the ball in the middle and sprint to the cone on the opposite side.
- The player goes around the cone and runs to the middle cone again to pick the ball. He dribbles around another outside cone before heading to the middle, where he leaves it, and sprints around the opposite cone.
- You can decide to have the players repeat this for a given amount of time or several repetitions.
As with other running drills for soccer, your team needs to give this workout 100% of their speed, energy, and focus. Ask them to accelerate fast when they touch the ball and be quick when going around the cones to get bigger gains. Check our other post on soccer drills with cones for more workouts of this kind.
3. Step Jumps
Step jumps are good conditioning drills for soccer if you want to improve your team's overall performance. These exercises are comparably easier to perform than other activities in this list. Unfortunately, similar to other forms of jump training, they are also among the most misapplied. Misapplication could lead to injuries or failure to achieve the targeted results.
Conversely, when done correctly, step jumps will increase the players' ability to jump vertically and laterally. This movement is a huge part of playing soccer and will boost stability, balance, strength, and coordination.
Of most importance, ensure that the players have proper warm-up before participating in this activity. Another great idea is to perform it either in the middle or towards the end of the training session.
How to Set Up and Execute
- The players should begin by standing beside a cone, marker, or ball.
- At the coach’s/trainer’s cue, the players should jump vertically and laterally over the cone to land on both feet on the other side.
- After landing, jump back to land in the previous position.
- The players should repeat this jump for 1 minute to make one set.
- After the first set, let them rest for 30 seconds before beginning the second set.
- Depending on their fitness level, the players should complete 4-8 sets per session with 30-second to 1-minute breaks between the sets.
4. Torture Run Team Soccer Drills
Throughout the 90 minutes of the match, players are either sprinting (with or without the ball) or jogging. This alone explains why sprint soccer conditioning drills are a must-have in your exercises. The benefits of sprinting drills in soccer are endless. As cardiovascular exercises, they improve your players' ability to utilize oxygen to sustain a particular activity for a given period. When done regularly, these are good fitness drills for soccer that will boost the players’ stamina.
How to Set Up
- This activity requires sprinting and jogging along the entire length of the pitch. If half of the field isn’t available, the players can run/jog around the remaining half twice to complete a lap.
- Designate one goal line to be the starting point. One lap is complete after running around the pitch to get back to the starting point.
How to Execute
- From the starting point, the players should sprint along the goal line.
- At the end of the goal line, they go around the flag/marker and slow down to a jog for half of the sideline.
- At the half-way line, they sprint again up to the other goal line and jog to the other sideline.
- They sprint half of the sideline before decelerating to a jog towards the starting point.
- Depending on the fitness level, encourage the players to complete at least 6 laps in one session.
You can make this drill exciting by pairing the players. Importantly, motivate the players to run at full gear when sprinting. Also, they should go around the flags as opposed to cutting corners.
5. 3-on-3 Force Marking Soccer Team Conditioning Drills
The 3v3 workout activity is among other good fitness drills for soccer that condition players while training them to tackle their opponents. In this game, players are divided into 2 small teams of 3 players each. Each player is matched up with another player from the other team. Players can only tackle the opposing players that they have been assigned to.
Besides fitness, the other purpose of these soccer conditioning drills is to challenge the players to create a strong defense against their opponents throughout the game. Players also get a chance to employ various tricks and skills, including and direction and speed change, to outplay the other player.
How to Set Up
- Set up a grid measuring 25x16 yards and put a full-size goal post on each width.
- Have a goalkeeper on each goal.
- Divide the players into small groups of 3 and let each team have a different jersey from the other.
- Assign 5 balls to each team. Let the balls stay inside the goals.
- Only 2 teams will be inside the field per round.
- Decide how long each round should be. A standard recommendation is letting the teams play for 2 minutes before rotating the players.
How to Execute
- Following the coach’s command, one of the goalkeepers starts the game with one ball from their team.
- The teams compete to retain or win the ball and score the most goals. Players must defend their man-marking opponents while employing all techniques to outwit and outmaneuver them to score a goal.
- When one team scores a goal, its goalkeeper starts the next ball with a ball from their goal.
- If the ball goes out of bounds, the team that was last to touch the ball loses possession. The goalkeeper from the opposing team starts a new ball from that team’s goal.
- At the end of the predetermined time, the team that has scored the most goals wins.
- If 2 extra teams are waiting, the next round can begin immediately. If there’s only 1 team outside, let the players who have just finished playing rest for a few minutes before commencing the next round.
6. 4-on-4 Touch the Line Soccer Conditioning Drills
These are team passing drills for soccer that require the teams to constantly move, pass the ball amongst the players, dribble to retain possession and try to score. These soccer team conditioning drills also need any team that loses control of the ball to sprint and touch the goal line before attempting to win the ball back.
As you can imagine, this is a high-intensity drill that trains the players to recover quickly and attack the offense team before it has a better chance at the goal. The complexity of the game also motivates communication between team players and teamwork when making decisions.
How to Set Up
- Use cones to set up a playing grid measuring 30x40 yards. You can adjust these measurements depending on the fitness level and age of the players.
- Place a goal post on each width. Put 5 balls in each goal.
- Group the players into small teams of 4-5 people each.
- Only 2 groups can play.
- Decide on how long each round will take. 2-3 minutes per round is standard.
How to Execute
- When starting, there are 2 teams with different jerseys in the field, and the goalkeepers are on the goalposts.
- At whistle blow, one goalkeeper starts the game by playing one ball to his team.
- If the defense team wins the ball from the offense team, the players who lost must sprint and touch their goal line (end line) before attempting to win the ball back.
- On the other hand, the defense team must complete 3 passes before trying to score.
- If one team scores, their goalkeeper gets to play one ball from their goal.
- If the ball gets out of bounds, the goalkeeper of the team that didn’t touch the ball last serves a ball from their goal.
- After each round, the team with the most goals wins.
- Decide on how many rounds that each team should play per session. 5 rounds are a good recommendation.
Blazepod complements your team's soccer conditioning drills with its reaction training system. This kit comprises Bluetooth-enabled pods with bright RGB LED at the top and the Blazepod App. The pods are smash-proof and waterproof and come with suction cups and straps. This allows you to set them up anywhere and create different workout scenarios that let your players push themselves to the limit.
Learn why most athletic trainers, coaches, and players are great fans of the Blazepod and how you can use it in your soccer exercises here.