Soccer, or football as it’s called outside of the States, is the number one sport in the world. Even in the US, soccer is the most played sport in the youth age bracket. With the growing emergence of professional soccer and the youth of yesterday playing more and more today, soccer conditioning is quickly becoming big business for trainers in the know. So how do you train a soccer player? Long distance running? Slow isolation movements in the gym? Quick short sprints? Plyometrics? The list of possibilities are endless, but the correct training protocol is not.
First, let’s look at how the game is played. A regular soccer match consists of two 45-minute halves with a 15-minute break in-between. Substitutions are less regular at the higher levels of play and like basketball, can only be made at the time the ball goes out of bounds. There are zero time outs for rest or strategy changing. The game also consists of four main position categories: forward (offense), halfback, fullback (defense), and a goalkeeper. It’s obvious to those who have played or watched a full match that different positions require different energy demands and body compositions in order to excel. Since the majority of the game is played without the ball, we will focus our discussion on training without possession and leave the ball skill up to the coaches.