With footballers now covering more ground than ever during matches, over 10km in some cases, players need to work on their stamina, as well as different forms of movement. Football is a hugely demanding sport, with the best players having being dynamic, stronger and hugely reactive. Let’s take a closer look at the best ways in which you can adapt your fitness regime in order to enhance your on-field performance.
Maximise your speed – No matter what your position on the pitch, it is important to be as quick as possible over different distances. Strengthening hamstring and quadriceps muscles will aid both isometric and eccentric movements, with exercises such as parachute sprints and sled pulls being perfect in this area. Whether it be improving your ability to latch onto through balls as a striker or deal with a pacey attacker as a full-back, speed training will undoubtedly enhance your performance on the field.
Become more dynamic – The best players in the world look almost effortless when performing explosive movements, however improving your dynamism will not come easy. Plyometric movements such as box jumps, squats and burpees are excellent for improving performance in this area, allowing players to leave their opponents in their wake.
Develop your core – Having a strong core allows even the most diminutive of players to evade defenders, whilst also helping to improve balance and speed. Core strength can be aided by obvious exercises such as sit-ups and crunches, along with some more unstable exercises, including planks and Romanian deadlifts.
Quicken your reactions – Being fast is one thing, however if that is only over a certain distance or in a straight line then this is also going to be restricting for players. Players should be able to alter their direction quickly, whilst also potentially keeping the ball under control at their feet. Slalom drills, whilst being traditional, are still hugely useful in this area of the game, whilst shuttle runs also provide players with a test, especially when a ball is incorporated.
Remember to recover – The demands of the modern game mean that recovery is just as important as any other aspect of training. Realising when your body needs a rest is not always easy, however exercises such as foam rolling and stretching are a must for any player. Spending at least 10 minutes at the end of each training session carrying out such exercises will have you feeling better in no time, while nutrition also plays a major role in regenerating the body.
Maximise your stamina – Many players in the professional game make a living due to their ability to run their socks off for 90 minutes, with stamina being improved by completing a range of exercises. Whether it be competing sprints on the treadmill or box-to-box runs on the pitch, maximising the rate at which you consume oxygen will undoubtedly help you when playing.
One of the biggest changes in football over recent times has been the speed at which the game is played, meaning that speed is a major asset for any player to have. While pace is something that is aided by genetics, speed is also something that can be developed. So, just what measures can coaches take in order to improve the speed of players?