To reach the top of their game, soccer players need not only speed and endurance but also strength, agility and mental focus. Find out how you can improve your physical fitness by following some of these simple football training exercises:
Speed and agility
1. Shuttle drill
Place a marker (a sweater or a bag) about 10m away from you. Place another marker 10 m away from the first in the same line. Face the marker and sprint to the first marker, then running backwards to the start position. Sprint to the second marker and run backwards to the first marker. Sprint to the second marker and run backwards to the start position. Repeat three times.
2. Figure of eight
Place two markers about 5m apart. Sprint in a figure of 8 around the cones making sure to take tight, controlled turns. Alternate the drill by replacing sprints with side steps, and backward runs.
Strength and power
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing straight forwards. Keeping your back straight push your buttocks out behind you, bending your knees and keeping them facing forwards. Do not let your knees move in front of your toes. Return to start position. Repeat ten times, rest for 30 seconds. Repeat three times. To increase the intensity, raise arms above head as you squat and lower arms as your return to start position.
2. Ice skaters
Start standing on one leg with that leg bent in a small squat. Push off that leg and take a large hop onto your right leg (sideways), landing in a squat. Then push off that leg and spring back to the left leg. Repeat 12 times, rest for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Soccer players need to be flexible to avoid injury, muscle tightness and imbalance. And the same applies to anyone wanting to avoid muscle and joint pain, whether you’re working in an office or on your feet all day.
To loosen tight hamstrings
Lie on your back and hug one knee towards your chest, keeping the other leg lengthened on the floor or bent with the foot on the floor. Hold behind the thigh or the calf and gently straighten the leg towards your body. If you need some help, you can wrap a towel or exercise band behind the leg and hold the ends to pull the leg towards you. Hold for between 20-30 seconds before changing legs.
To stretch calves
Stand on the edge of a step facing towards the step and let one heel gently lower off the step. Hold the stretch for around 20-30 seconds and then change sides.
Written by Dr. Noel Duncan