In this post we want to show you some of the best soccer drills for conditioning and fitness.
Top soccer players cover up to 7 miles in a single match, although the actual distance covered depends on position, play style, tempo of the match, and individual position and play style. Even an amateur player can expect to have to cover 4 to 5 miles in a 90-minute game.
Whereas exercises like squats and push ups, as well as work on weight machines, help train strength, conditioning training trains the body and mind so that the player can cover every blade of grass in a game. It facilitates longer running and improves agility and it even helps keep the mind sharp even towards the end of a grueling game.
Below are 10 soccer drills for conditioning training that will improve stamina.
1. 12 Minute Run
The 12 minute run is a great way to assess conditioning and can be used as a benchmark to determine progress. Essentially, the player runs for 12 minutes and you measure the distance covered. Ideally, it should be done on a track so it is easy to measure the distance covered and to prevent slipping on corners, but it can be done using cones on the pitch.
A distance of around 10,000 feet is considered exceptional, 7,500 feet is good, 6,200 feet is average, and 5,000 feet is below average, with anything below this said to be poor.
2. Pain Shuttle Run Drills
In shuttle runs, you lay out at least three cones in a straight line. The player runs from the starting cone to the first cone and back again, and then to the second cone and back again. This can be done with or without the ball, or alternating, running a complete course without the ball and then a complete course with the ball. The player should run as quickly as possible between the cones.
3. Tic-Tac-Toe Sprints
For Tic-Tac-Toe sprints, setup a tic-tac-toe grid of 3×3, have players arranged in two teams and give each team three cones. Start the drill with no ball and have the player run from the start line, with one of their cones, to the grid. When they get to the grid, they place the cone in their chosen square and run back. When the player reaches the start line, the next player takes a cone and runs to the grid to place it.
When all cones have been placed, if there is no winner, the next player runs, picks up a cone and moves it to a new square. Players can also dribble the ball from the start line to the grid, pick up a cone and place it, for variation.
5. Ladder Running Drills
Ladder running helps train agility as well as stamina and conditioning. You do need a running ladder and there are different drills you can introduce for variety and to improve different elements of footwork. Use shuffles, twists, hops, and steps and ensure that players are moving as quickly as possible through the drills.
6. Fartlek Run Drills
Fartlek is Swedish and means speed play. No equipment is required but the player alternates between sprinting and jogging during a running session. This helps maintain concentration and breaks the training session up.
It is also a realistic representation of the kind of running involved during a match. A player will never have to sprint for the whole period and should never be jogging at a slow pace for the whole game.
7. Endurance Interval Training Drill
Interval training is a well known endurance training session and is easy to setup and perform. All you really need is a stop watch and a whistle. Have your players line up at the edge of the penalty area and on the whistle, run to the half way line in 15 seconds. Let them rest for 15 seconds, and run back in 15 seconds. Do this twice before increasing the distance run. Perform the second distance twice, and then add a little more distance for one run, giving a total of 10 runs.
8. Tempo Runs
The tempo runs drill not only improves conditioning but helps train for the change of pace you will need during every match, swapping from fast running to slow and back again. The only equipment required is a stopwatch.
Players run at a fast pace for 15 seconds, and then a slow pace for 15 seconds. Then increase the time to 30 seconds, and then 45 seconds, before working down to 30 seconds and then 15 seconds again. Beginners start with a single set whie more advanced athletes can perform up to 3 sets.
9. X Drill
The X drill trains conditioning as well as footwork as it requires a change in direction as well as intense running. Lay cones in an X shaped configuration. The player runs from one corner to the center and then turns to run to a diagonal corner before running back and across the center. Turn and repeat the pattern.
10. Dynamic Suicide Sprints
Suicide sprints involve running from one cone to progressively further cones, as quickly as possible. Dynamic suicide sprints add additional elements such as using resistance bands to increase the intensity as well as the use of agility cones to add extra elements to an otherwise simple course.
You can also have players run part of the course backwards or with high knees, and only shout the instruction as you want the player to move to that particular type of exercise.
Conditioning training improves physical stamina which, in turn, helps players keep mental concentration throughout a full 90-minute match. Conditioning drills can also train players to better react to changes in pace that they will naturally experience during a match and should reduce the likelihood of a drip in performance towards the end of the 90 minutes.