Soccer Fitness and Diet

Fitter teams win more games – it’s as simple as that. Of course, we know that most clubs will not have a fitness trainer or a well-equipped gym. But there is a lot you can do yourself. The drills in this section look at how you can help your players to get fit, stay fit, avoid injury and recover more quickly. How many times have you seen a close game decided in the last 10 minutes because one team is fit and the other is running out of energy?

 

 

 

    • Get fitter soccer players with no extra effort – How can you coach a fitter team of players? The answer is – by getting them to sleep more! A good night of sleep is vital to a soccer player’s physical and mental preparation for a game.

 

    • Soccer coaching tips for pre match warm ups – Time spent encouraging and warming up your team before kick-off is well rewarded when the players run out onto the pitch. It has happened to me where, due to poor directions, traffic, or just bad timing, my teams have staggered onto the pitch just before the whistle blows. And boy does it tell.

 

 

 

    • Stretching warm up drills – Players should always be encouraged to stretch, whether this is at home, before or after exercise, or during breaks in both matches and training sessions.

 

    • Speed and agility soccer drills for young soccer players – Coaching your young players to develop speed, stamina and agility is vital to help them stand up to the rigours of a match or soccer training session. With the help of this fitness soccer drill you can build  these skills and give your players an all-round soccer education.

 

    • Sprint skills test – This is a good test to give your players every month to see if they are getting fitter as the season goes on. It can also be used to identify if a particular player has worn himself out and needs a rest.

 

    • Focus your players with a sensory warm up drill – During a match or a soccer training session your players will have to react quickly on the pitch using their senses. Help sharpen their communication skills and sensory reaction times with this soccer warm-up drill.

 

 

 

    • Keeping players hydrated – Whether it’s a hot day or a cold one, water is vital for the health and fitness of your players during soccer training drills and matches, so make sure it is available all the time.

 

    • Triangle drill warm up – Soccer warm-up drills are very important for your players, but you need to make them fun, too.

 

    • Heading warm up drill tips – Spending time on headers at the start of your soccer coaching drill sessions will produce results.

 

    • One touch soccer speed drill – This soccer drill is what good training sessions are all about, it will help warm up your players and give them a good skill-building session with fitness and fun thrown in.

 

    • Speed training soccer drill – Being outpaced to the ball is a frustrating situation, so make sure you incorporate speed training drills into your soccer coaching sessions.

 

    • Soccer drill to speed up reactions – Getting players reacting to situations is an important part of your soccer coaching plans. Try this soccer drill to get your players reacting to the ball in attacking positions.

 

    • Player acceleration soccer drill – Developing a player’s co-ordination and acceleration skills is important because these soccer skills give them a way to move away from danger without losing the ball. Think of it like a car where you can put your foot on the gas to give quick acceleration so you can overtake safely.

 

 

 

 

    • Soccer warm down drill using 2v2 – I really like this soccer warm-down drill. It is a fast, furious soccer drill and a great way to end your coaching session. You need to split your players into twos and get them to try and score against each other in a two-sided goal, using cones or poles.

 

    • Arrowhead soccer warm up drill – This great soccer warm-up drill gets your players moving in different directions and working on skills such as sprinting, turning and agility. It’s a simple soccer drill to set up, so you can have four or five drills going at once and spread your players out.

 

    • Soccer drill to work on goalkeeper footspeed – Coaching your goalkeeper to work on his footspeed is vital to his ability to get in position to block shots. Goalkeepers who are quick off the mark will save your team if they can get the skills right. Use the following soccer coaching tips and drill to get the best from your goalie.

 

    • Why soccer warm up drills are important – It is very easy to ignore soccer (football) warm-ups and warm-downs when you are training young soccer players. They will often ask you if they can skip the warm-up drills and get on with the training. But you should make sure they do the warm ups at every session and get used to warming up for matches, too.

 

    • Soccer coaching tips to tackle cramp – Cramp is a common injury that affects hard working muscles such as the calves in soccer players. The following soccer coaching tips tell you what to do when this happens and how to avoid it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Play tag to give players a fun soccer warm up drill – Simple warm-up drills often work best with young players in the U4-U7 age groups, but are also often good for older players. Use the following soccer drill, based on a tag game idea, to appeal to all age groups and to get players ready to focus on your soccer coaching session.

 

 

    • Warm down soccer drill using Aussie rules – A great way to get your players to warm-down after a training drill session is by using this Aussie rules drill. Players hold the ball in their hands and volley it to pass – when they catch the ball they have to stand still before making the next volleyed pass. The opposition has to intercept the volley.

 

    • Fitness soccer drill to boost balancing skills – This is a very good fitness drill to use with your young soccer players, and it will have them all laughing as they try to balance and fall over until they get the hang of it and can do it properly.

 

 

    • Soccer warm up drill for young players – In this soccer warm-up drill ask your players to form a line in front of you and call out a number of different moves for them to carry out. This is a great warm-up drill for very young players because they have to concentrate on what you are saying so they can do the moves you call for.

 

 

 

    • Add targets to make soccer fitness training fun for players – Fitness is fundamental to successful soccer coaching. It’s something you need to think about on a regular basis and I don’t mean simply getting your players to run around the pitch each week. First, that’s going to be boring and, second, players won’t push themselves. Instead, this soccer drill gives your players targets to create interest and fun.

 

 

 

 

    • Pre match soccer warm up drill – One way of getting your players into the right frame of mind for a match is to use good warm-up drills. If you are all in a big circle you can also talk to your players and remind them about their responsibilties towards the team, the opposition and the officials.

 

    • Shadowing warm up drill to work on marking skills – This is a good soccer warm-up drill for young players, which is designed to get their muscles working. It also has a soccer shadowing theme to it. Players need to shadow the opponent they are marking. Make sure your players aren’t left behind during the drill.

 

    • Soccer warm up drill to run mid training session – Soccer warm-up drills don’t always have to be used at the beginning of your soccer training session. Try running this warm-up drill after playing a small-sided game, so your players can have a breather. A soccer drill such as this one also gives you a chance to walk around your players and see who is advancing on the skills front.

 

    • Short sprint stamina drills – Set up a V pattern and get your players working on a short-sprint stamina training drill, before extending the drill to include dribbling skills as well.

 

    • Squat jump soccer warm up drill – Using a combination of jumps in a drill is a great way to help your young players warm up their muscles before a match, as well as building up their core agility skills.

 

 

    • Steal the ball soccer warm up drill – As a soccer coach, it’s vital that you get young players to warm up thoroughly at the beginning of a soccer training session. When you’re coaching youngsters, you need to not only get them in the right frame of mind for taking part in the coaching session, but also limit their risk of injury.

 

 

    • Hamstring muscles warm up drill – This quick soccer warm-up drill helps to prevent hamstring muscle tears and strains, which are among the most common soccer injuries. The drill replicates the eccentric (lengthening) movement associated with high-speed running and deceleration.

 

    • Free play soccer warm up drill – I know we’re always talking about the importance of structuring your soccer training sessions, planning ahead with your coaching drills and tactics, briefing your assistants and having everything in place before your young soccer (football) players arrive. But sometimes a little bit of chaos is good, too. Try the following soccer warm-up drill to kick start your coaching session.

 

    • Soccer warm up drill to get players thinking – This is a fun soccer drill to test decision-making skills when your soccer (football) players are tired. It can be set up quickly to use as a soccer warm-up or warm-down drill.

 

    • Downhill sprinting soccer drill – Making your soccer youngsters run downhill may just seem like a player’s dream sprinting drill (better downhill than uphill!). But this overspeed soccer coaching drill will improve the kids’ running skills because each player will be reaching speeds they will not normally be able to get to, so attuning their brains to run faster.

 

 

 

    • Get your soccer team to stretch – Players’ muscles need to be looked after no matter if you’re coaching a youth soccer team or older players. If a muscle is not warmed up it can lead to an injury and a long spell on the touchline.

 

    • Fitness workout with small sided game – Young soccer (football) players often get bored by fitness exercises and drills, they just want to play soccer. Use this continuous 2v2 small-sided game to keep them motivated at training and give them a good fitness work-out, too.

 

 

 

    • Involve players in choosing a drill – If you’re coaching youth soccer groups around the U14-U16 age range, it’s a good idea, on occasions, to give players four or five different soccer warm-up drills and get them to pick one to use for your soccer coaching session. You can explain what the session is about and which parts of the game need improving.

 

 

 

 

 

    • Skipping soccer fitness drill – Skipping is a basic but highly versatile exercise to add to your coaching drills. Getting your soccer (football) players to workout with the skipping ropes will bring a number of fitness benefits. This is an ideal drill to use when bad weather means your coaching session is an indoor one.

 

    • Soccer coaching tips to improve sprint speeds – Children run in all sorts of ways – you only have to go to the school sports day to see what a difference it makes if they look like a runner. It’s the same for your soccer players, some will struggle to get going, whereas others are naturally speedy. But you can improve all players’ running by coaching these techniques and using soccer drills to work on speed and agility.

 

    • Soccer drill to develop core strength – Core strength improves posture and running style, and will reduce the potential for injury. Your soccer (football) players should start developing good core strength from an early age. Most of the best fitness drills and exercises use the player’s body weight and require very little movement, so they’re safe and simple to use for younger players.

 

    • Recovery tips for dead leg injuries – A dead leg is where the muscle is crushed against the bone. Good recovery management can help a soccer (football) player return faster to training and playing.

 

 

    • Box run warm up soccer drill – Soccer (football) warm-up drills are an important part of training sessions and, of course, a vital part of match-day preparation. This warm-up drill is one that uses different combinations around and across the box, to get lungs and leg muscles going.

 

 

    • Colour call soccer warm up drill – You can use this soccer drill with your younger players or as a warm-up drill for any age group. It encourages players to use their senses to follow the coach’s orders. Warm-up drills are an important part of your soccer coaching sessions and match day preparation.

 

 

 

 

    • Dribbling at speed soccer drill – When your players win the ball off the opposition in midfield and pass it quickly they must be able to dribble at speed towards the opposition goal to take advantage of the turnover. Use this football dribbling drill to help.

 

    • Bounce soccer warm up drill – This is a great soccer (football) warm-up drill to get your players competing for the ball in 1v1 situations. All you need are four balls and four cones.

 

 

 

    • Sprint speed football drill – Increasing your players’ sprinting speeds will have them reaching the ball faster than their opponents, which can change the outcome of a match. Use this sprint speed soccer (football) drill and basic coaching tips to help.

 

 

 

    • Basic football speed drill with jumps – This basic football drill is designed to coach sprint speed skills, as well as improve players’ acceleration and footwork. If you haven’t got a speed ladder, you can improvise using sticks, or strips of coloured material laid out like a ladder.

 

 

 

    • Soccer control warm up drill – This warm-up football (soccer) drill is all about control, movement and using the skills of two players. Players react to the pass, then move to receive the ball again. The warm-up drill can be used for indoor coaching sessions, too.

 

 

 

    • Soccer fitness drill – This soccer fitness drill helps your players to anticipate the moves of opposition players when they play matches. If they can make the right decision, your players can beat their opponent to the cone – in matches that means they will be first to the ball.

 

 

    • Soccer warm up drill to boost reactions and footwork – This is a soccer (football) warm-up drill to get players reacting to your calls as they move around a 20 yards-by-20 yards square and working on their footwork skills. You can use the centre circle or the penalty area if you are playing an away game and want to use this footwork and reactions warm-up drill in a limited space. This is also a useful warm-up drill for indoor coaching.

 

 

    • Teamwork soccer warm up drill – Make sure you start your soccer coaching sessions in a fun way with a warm-up drill they’ll enjoy and which will prepare them for the level of performance you want them to be at when your coaching points are being put across.

 

    • Stamina training for soccer – Stamina training for soccer is important because when your young players are tired, everything becomes a struggle, especially their ball control skills. This often becomes obvious during the final minutes of a match at the beginning of the season or during mid-season. Use these endurance exercises to build up your players’ soccer fitness and stamina levels.

 

 

    • Step jump drill to improve soccer fitness levels – Tiredness in the last 10 minutes of a soccer game can create a stressful end to your team’s game and cause late goals to be let in. Endurance is as relevant to your players’ match play and skills set as scoring goals because you want your team to perform at their best for the whole game.

 

 

    • Call out soccer warm up drill – One of the problems soccer coaches often complain about is the difficulties they have getting players to warm up for matches properly. In a lot of cases players just stand around the penalty area firing shots at the goalkeeper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Soccer coaching warm-up for speed agility – It’s one thing to read an interception but a soccer player who is ready and able to move quickly and get in front of the intended recipient of the pass will be much better equipped to win the ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Soccer coaching warm-up to improve heading to score – Warm-up exercises should be quick, lively and all-action. Heading is a skill sometimes overlooked, yet this drill gets players quickly involved and, given the short distance to goal, encourages intentional placement of headers which can be replicated in match scenarios.

 

    • Soccer coach session on how and when to break forward – Most teams will go through spells in matches when they need to defend well. So ensuring there is always an outlet further up the pitch is essential in transforming defensive situations into attacking ones. The secret to this is in employing a player who can dictate this situation.

 

    • Soccer coaching session to improve confidence in making quick decisions – When players feel pressure in matches, it can often affect their ability to make decisions. You will undoubtedly have players who dribble brilliantly in training, yet “panic pass” in matches. Other players will hesitate when on the ball and a great opportunity to pass to a team mate is often lost.

 

 

 

 

 

    • Soccer warm-up for short passing and quick running – This is a varied warm-up that focuses on short passing and quick running. Players are rehearsing the ability to communicate early while concentrating on the weight and type of the pass. They must always be on their toes and, at no time, should the ball stop dead.

 

 

 

 

    • Soccer movement drills – To improve your players’ movement on the pitch try this drill by David Clarke, and warm-up by Michael Beale.

 

 

 

    • Soccer warm-up to master new skills – In youth football, you’ll always be looking for players to get into their comfort zones, but not at the expense of forgetting to learn new techniques.

 

    • Soccer coaching warm-up to improve player skills – This warm-up, called Dribbling gates, is by Michael Beale. It rehearses players in keeping the ball close, using both feet and changing direction in a confined area. Players will also need to be aware of team mates around them.

 

    • Soccer warm-up session in preparation for a match day game – This warm-up, is called “Between the cones” and is by Michael Beale. It is designed as a quick practice and works because players are aware of the need to be on their toes, to adjust their feet and to have a good “feel” for the ball – all key elements in the rehearsal for a match situation.

 

    • Soccer warm-up 1v1 session – This is a great warm-up, called “Bounce and react” and is by Michael Beale. It will have your players competing for the ball in 1v1 situations. All you need is four balls and four cones.

 

 

    • Soccer speed agility warm-up game – Being able to turn is one of the first problems a young player has to solve as he advances his technique. Running in straight lines is very limiting and you need to get players to turn so they can beat opponents. By Michael Beale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Ball manipulation and familiarity warm up drill – This is an extensive warm-up, and one you may wish to perform over two or three training sessions, but it showcases a range of different skills and touches that, if learned properly, will really enhance a player’s game.

 

    • Pass and get the second ball – The warm-up for the article above is very simple, which in my opinion, is often the best type of warm-up and will get your players moving quickly.

 

    • The arrival activity – A practice on closing down opponents for the whole squad – latecomers included!

 

    • Sidestep circuit – This circuit is a good warm-up for match days when your players need to stretch their legs with something that is not too tiring.

 

    • Strength and power – This is a great warm-up to make sure your players are physically and mentally ready for a match or training session.

 

    • Bounce and react – This is a great warm-up that will have your players competing for the ball in 1v1 situations. All you need is four balls and four cones.

 

 

    • Pre-season Week 1 – Here’s the first in our series of pre-season training sessions that will ensure your players are in the best possible shape – mentally and physically – for the rest of the season.

 

    • Jogging and sprinting warm-up – Use this warm-up to get your players ready for training with short jogging and sprinting runs – during it, you can talk to them about the session ahead and what you will be expecting of them.

 

    • Pre-season co-ordination, teamwork, agility – Warm-ups don’t have to be boring – you can begin your session in a fun way that will prepare your players for the level of performance you want them to be at when your coaching points are being put across.

 

    • Sidestep circuit – This circuit is a good warm-up for match days when your players need to stretch their legs with something that is not too much hard work.

 

    • Movement, rotation, support – I’m always looking for my players to get the basics right in matches, with passing and receiving at the heart of that.

 

    • Sidestep circuit – This circuit is a good warm-up for match days when your players need to stretch their legs with something that is not too lung-bursting.

 

    • Bib pull-away – I find warm-ups are really useful exercises for indoor training.

 

 

 

    • Match-day warm-up – Warm-ups are an important part of training sessions and, of course, a vital part of match-day preparation. This is one that uses different combinations around and across the box, to get lungs and leg muscles going.

 

    • Keep away in triangles – You can use this exercise to warm your players up before they take part in the defending drills in the main article in this issue. Or use it to warm your players down after they have done the drills.

 

    • Running with the ball and changing direction – The focus in this warm-up is on controlling the ball and changing direction. It needs skill and concentration from all your players so they can work without constantly losing possession.

 

    • The importance of first touch – This session can be used as a warm-up or warm-down for older players or as a session for players who find first touch difficult. The first touch should make the second touch easier whether it is a dribble a pass or a shot.

 

 

    • Speed agility – This is a great warm-up which will have your players moving in all directions so they are ready when you play matches.

 

 

    • Dribble on demand – This is a great game for getting your players to react to changing situations in a match.

 

    • Running in pairs – This is a great warm-up to get your players ready for a match using short jogging and sprinting runs.

 

    • Continual heading soccer drill – Like throw-ins, headers continually occur in matches and are a great way to score goals. If you go to the trouble of getting your wingers to cross the ball into the penalty area then you want an end product.

 

 

    • Running with the ball warm up drill – The focus in this warm-up is on controlling the ball and changing direction. It needs skill and concentration from all your players so they can work without constantly losing possession.

 

    • Keep away in triangles soccer drill – You can use this exercise to warm your players up before they take part in a drill. Or use it to warm your players down after they have done the drills.