Agility, speed , and endurance are the 3 keys to rising to the top in football. Behind the scenes, players who dominate the pitch concentrate on soccer workouts that boost sprint performance and ability to change direction in a split second. And while speed and agility are vital, what's even more critical is performing at your level best throughout the 90 minutes (endurance).
In this comprehensive workout for soccer guide, we focus on football-specific exercises that will help you fine-tune these 3 components.
Soccer Workouts for Speed
Speed underpins the most important physical traits for a football player. Whether you're playing offense or defense, you have no chance of getting or shielding the ball unless you're quick on your feet. When you look at it closely, you'll realize that most of the best professional football players like CR7, Messi, and Kylian Mbappe are remarkable sprinters too.
Well, you don't need to hit a blistering speed of 24 mp/h as Christiano did in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But as a striker, being able to run at full speed while dribbling will surely keep the defenders from relaxing too much. Likewise, defenders need speed to catch up with offensive players and prevent them from sliding through.
These are the best soccer exercises for speed;
1. Uphill Sprints
Speed hill training is often recommended as one of the best exercises for soccer players who want to build speed. This hill-based type of training may seem simple in theory. But if you can imagine sprinting while lifting weights, this is what it feels like. The gradient makes the sprint difficult, forcing you to push even harder.
When done correctly, this resisted exercise combines speed and strength training to offer various benefits, such as building stamina, increasing ankle strength, and boosting explosiveness. As a coach, these soccer team workouts can also promote your players' mental toughness and cultivate goal-setting behavior.
How to do uphill sprints
- At the starting point, get in a good 2.0 stance.
- Spring out of the stance and run uphill at your top speed for 20-30 yards.
- Walk down the hill and cool down for around 90 seconds before the next rep.
- Run 4-8 repetitions with 90-120 seconds of resting in between.
2. Sled Pushes
The sled push is also known as a prowler press, and it's basically a sled with a load of weights. This exercise for soccer offers full-body strength and speed workouts, making it perfect if you want to challenge your physical fitness.
Sled pushes are among the most versatile exercises and can be customized to deliver different training effects. When done well, sled pushes will rev your metabolism and set your heart and lungs on fire without negatively impacting your muscles like weight-lifting would.
When done the right way, sled pushes will work your lower and upper body muscles, including chest, shoulders, abdominals, quads, glutes, and calves leading to improved sprint performance.
How to push sleds for football speed
- If you're new to the sled, start with around 30-40% of your max. load.
- Go for a lower grip on the bars to imitate a natural sprinting position.
- Sprint for 30-40 yards giving it 100% effort.
- Take a 2-minute rest before sprinting the sled back to the starting point.
- Repeat 8-10 times with enough rest in between.
Soccer Workout for Agility
Sprinting speed may be a critical attribute for a football player. But remember that soccer is a fast-paced game that demands sudden starts and stops, quick turns, and instantaneous change of direction. It’s not a linear game.
Agility in soccer is being able to change your body's direction while at speed without losing coordination, strength, balance, and the ball, of course.
In essence, attackers need to be more agile than defenders. However, the latter also needs to be both flexible and strong to hold off the strikers. Agility is even more important to goalkeepers than anyone else in the team. Goalkeepers should be able to react super fast by diving and springing in all directions to save goals.
Here are some of the best agility workouts for soccer players to try today;
3. 1-on-1 Change of Direction
This is one of the best soccer drills with cones that develop a player's reaction time, footwork, and the ability to change direction quickly. This activity is relatively simple and effective and adds a lot of fun, especially during warm-up.
How to set up and do it
- This soccer workout can be done by any even number of players (4, 6, 8, etc.)
- Begin by creating 2 parallel lines using five cones, leaving a space of 6 yards between them.
- Leave a gap of 4 yards between the first four cones in each line. Between the fourth and the fifth cone, leave a space of 10 yards.
- Divide the team into 2 groups. Let each group stand in a line behind each of the starting cones. Assign one group to be the leaders and the second to be the followers.
- To play, the first leader sprints forward when he/she decides. The first follower should run immediately and try to follow the leader as close as possible.
- The leader makes a sudden 180-degree turn at any of the three cones and heads back towards the starting line before making yet another about-turn ready to sprint to the finishing cone. All this time, the follower should follow the leader closely and make the same turns on the same cones on the other line.
- After making the second turn, the 2 players sprint and try to outdo each other while running to the finish line.
- The next players in line begin after the first players finish.
After finishing, the 2 players join the line again, this time switching positions so that the leader becomes the follower.
To make these speed and agility workouts for soccer even more engaging, rotate the players around so that each player faces all the teammates.
4. In/Out Agility Ladder Drill
An agility ladder is an inexpensive piece of equipment that mixes up your training exercises for soccer by testing your agility, endurance, coordination, and cardiovascular performance.
This is a foldable ladder that you can roll out and spread almost anywhere; in the pitch, at the gym, and even in your bedroom. If you’re yet to buy an agility ladder, you can get creative by drawing one on the floor using tape.
How to do agility ladder in/out drill
- Roll out the ladder on a flat surface
- Stand at one end of the ladder with your feet spread hip-width apart.
- Hop forward into the first square of the agility ladder.
- Push off immediately so that both feet are spread outside the ladder.
- Next, hop into the next square with both feet before pushing off again almost immediately.
- Repeat these steps pacing through the ladder.
The in/out drill explained above is not the only exercise for soccer players that you can do on these ladders. Check out our comprehensive guide on soccer speed and agility drills for other ways to use the agility ladder.
Leg Workouts for Soccer Players
While the entire body is engaged during soccer, it’s the legs that do the most work. Most of the movements that you make when playing demand excellent lower body strength. Think of running with the ball, tackling opponents, blocking your opponents, and even passing or making a shot at the goal.
You’ll be more effective at these movements depending on your lower body strength. Also, you realize that perfecting the best soccer exercises demands a strong pair of legs. Good soccer exercises that make your legs strong will increase your explosion, speed, endurance, and ability to engage in various workouts too.
Here are our recommendations for leg exercise for soccer training
5. Box Jumps
The old box jump training has many benefits and can go a long way in making you a healthy and physically fit football player. Box jumps are among the best soccer drills for beginners as they are fairly simple and can be manipulated to meet the player’s experience level.
Among other benefits that make it a good training exercise for soccer, box jumps can strengthen your legs, promote balance and posture, and help develop a stronger core and powerful arms.
How to exercise for soccer using box jumps
- Place a box (or a set of boxes) two feet from your feet. The height of the boxes need to present a challenge but should be manageable.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and in a half-squat position.
- Align your head to your spine and extend your arms to line up with your torso behind your glutes.
- To make a jump, squeeze all the energy from your legs and hips by pushing up.
- Do 4-5 sets of 6-8 repetitions each.
6. Jump Squats
Jump squat is another training exercise for soccer that you can do with sans equipment. This is a power-packed workout that targets your leg muscles, glutes, and lower abs. When done correctly, squat jumps also make one of the best soccer drills for kids because they boost overall physical performance, balance, and mobility.
How to workout for soccer using jump squats
- Begin by standing straight with your feet spread shoulder-width apart.
- Place your hands by your side, roll back your shoulders, push your chest up, lift your chip and look ahead.
- Assume a sitting position by bending your knees and pushing your butts out but ensure that your knees aren’t overshooting your toes.
- Squat down with your palms together.
- Spring up from the squat position by throwing your hands down
- Land gently again and go back to the squat position by bringing your palms together, pushing your butts out, and bending your knees just enough not to overshoot your toes.
- Do 3 sets per session with 15 reps each.
Soccer Workouts for Endurance
As a physically fit football player, you should sprint, dodge, and jump as fast in the last minutes of the match as you did when the game started. Endurance workouts for soccer players are intensive exercises that help you pull through the game to the final whistle.
These exercises offer several benefits, including faster recovery and better focus and decision-making. The intensity of these workouts also trains your heart to be efficient in delivering oxygen to your muscles, which pushes you to keep fighting to the last second.
Gym endurance workout for soccer
7. Burpee Pull-Ups
Burpee pull-ups are one of Ronaldo’s favorite soccer conditioning drills for a couple of reasons. First, these exercises comprise a range of upper body, core, and lower body movements. This combination effectively gets your heart rate up super fast. Each rep leaves you stronger because you’re working out your chest, abs, arm, quads, hamstring, and glutes, among other muscle groups.
How to do burpee pull-ups for soccer training
- Stand under a high bar with your feet spread shoulder-length apart.
- Begin by bending down and extending your hands to reach the floor a few inches in front of your toes. As you do this, quickly jump your legs back to assume the push-up position.
- Do a push-up. As you push up, simultaneously lift your hips rapidly to get into a squat position.
- From the squat position, stand up and jump to grab the bar and immediately perform a pull-up.
- After a successful pull-up, drop to the starting position (standing) and repeat. Repeat 5-10 push-ups and 5-10 pull-ups.
8. HIIT on treadmill
A treadmill is an incredible alternative when the weather conditions screw up your outdoor workout plans. High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) treadmill workouts can be highly beneficial when building football-specific endurance. This type of exercise works by increasing your heartbeat and testing your fast-twitch muscle fibers to the limit. Regular and consistent HIIT workouts prompt the body to create new muscles to manage future physical demands.
HIIT treadmill workouts can take different structures.
Here is a treadmill speed endurance exercise you can try today.
How to do it
- Start with a 5-10-minute warm-up session by walking or jogging
- After the warm-up, increase the speed gradually to a challenging pace that increases your heart rate to 80-85% of your max. Run for 1 minute.
- After the 1-minute sprint, give yourself 1-2 minutes to recover by slowing the speed to a comfortable walk or jog.
- After cooling down, sprint again for 1-minute followed by a 1- to 2-minute recovery period.
- Repeat for 20-30 minutes.
- After 20-30 minutes, gradually slow the pace and walk or jog for 5 minutes to cool down.
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