How to get fit for the football season
Being fit to play any sport is critical to the body, and Football, or Soccer, is certainly one of the most physical sports played. So if you are wondering why footballers keep fit and how you want to get fit for football, then I hope this post will help.
Anyone who embarks on a sport must be prepared to train hard in order to enhance your playing ability, as well as to reduce the risk of getting injured – and injuries will be covered in future posts.
In order to get fit for the football season, there will undoubtedly be pre season training as well as pre season games, to enable you to get at your physical, and mental, best before the season kicks off.
So, how do you get to this peak fitness?
There will be 5 main areas……
1. Building Stamina
2. Gain core power and strength
3. The weakest link
4. Improving agility
5. Ball skills
So, in a little depth let’s have a look at each of these in turn
1. Building Stamina
To run the full ninety minutes, a midfield maestro, or to catch the ref up to make your point, a tough defender, what should be the routine?
1. Sessions – Start with a 20 minute run for 3 times a week
2. Increase Time – Jogging pace only, increase your timings to add between 5 and 10 minutes on each run until you can run for 60 minutes.
3. Pace – YOU set the pace. Speed is not the be all and end all, but the process of building up your tolerance. There is no set speed to go as you may be tired after a hard day’s work, but make sure you do not stop as this will decrease the benefit
2. Gain Core Power and Strength
Certain exercises can help train your fast muscle fibres and the nerves to give you greater power for magical bursts of pace and power – these are called Plyometric exercises.
Whether it is to increase your jump height to control a goal ward header, pull off a great save, or just to run to your fans to celebrate a goal, your legs will be key.
Plyometric sprints more than once a week will definitely help give you core power.
Set a marker about 6 metres away from your starting point, then 6 metres from the first marker.
Lie flat on your stomach, and when ready get up fast as you can and sprint, fast as you can, to the first marker (6 metres). Sprint back to the start, and then sprint to the second marker (12 metres), and then back to the start.
Repeat this for 6 cycles, and gradually increase the reps each week.
As these sprints are rarely over a 12 metre period in football, this process will train your body to react quicker, be faster in the start up of a sprint, and gain you much more power in the legs and core muscles.
3. The Weakest Link
No…we are not talking about the game show here….!
This is solely about your…ankles.
Pitches have different surfaces, and can have divots which are extremely hazardous and painful if you turn your ankle…so how do you prepare for that?
Using a step put the balls of your feet on the edge, though not to be near the edge so to be dangerous.
Raise up as high as you can go and hold for a count of 10.
Then gently lower your heels down as far as they will go without pain.
Repeat for 8-10 times, at least 3 times a week
As your strength improves in the ankle and calf area, you can try to add weights so to increase the strength still further.
DO NOT do too much as this may strain on your calf and Achilles, which could give very sore injuries.
4. Improving Agility
Excellent for this is the Agility Ladder.
Much like the short sprint earlier and can be done with either cones, markers or a designed ladder.
I will use cones, and it goes like this:
1. Set up 3 cones from your start point around 10 metres apart.
2. Run to first one, back to start
3. Run to second one, back to first
4. Run to third, back to first
5. Run to fourth and sprint back to the start.
Perform this for at least 15 minutes.
You can add extra cones if you wish, or increase the pace as your fitness improves – and it will pretty rapidly. However….Do what feels COMFORTABLE!
5. Ball Skills
This is an obvious but often ignored part of the routine.
Always practice your dribbling, shooting, passing and control skills.
1. Dribbling – round cones or up to cones and back again using the exercises above keeping ball close to feet, with head looking up and forwards so you get a “feel” of the ball, and so to be aware of your surrounding s (for picking team mates out!)
2. Shooting – could incorporate specific areas of the goal to aim at…and if English – PENALTIES!!
3. Passing – can be over short or long distances, using firm contact and getting used to the distance needed for the power required.
4. Control – Keep ups with feet and head, or if with a partner get them to kick ball to you over long and short distances, high or low so you get used to the variations and different types of control method – chest, thigh, instep, head.
All of these methods need to be done on a regular basis, together with regular games to get to match fitness.
As one famous footballer said
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all – love what you are doing or learn to do
That was of course the greatest player to have lived – Pele.