How do I get fit for football?
Football is a very physically demanding sport due to the expectations it puts on an individual to have good speed and stamina. Endurance plays an important role in what makes a successful footballer and so working on all areas of your fitness is vital (players are estimated to cover roughly 10km during a 90-minute game).
Football is often described as a high-intensity, intermittent sport due to the intense effort across short periods of time, interspersed with longer periods of low intensity activity. Because of this, the way that footballers train differs from general fitness training as a result of the unique demands it places on an individual. They must combine an array of high and low intensity drills, gym-based strength and conditioning and recovery sessions.
Football is very easy to train for at home, so this guide includes an array of home-based drills to increase strength, build stamina and strengthen legs to get you fit for football as quickly as possible.
How to increase stamina for football
Stamina is an essential part of a footballer's make-up due to the distance they cover across a 90-minute match. Although a large part of this is in relation to how far you can run, there are also different areas to target to ensure you are maximising your size, power and resilience to meet the increasing demands of how modern football is played.
How to get in shape for football is often a question which can be hard to answer due to how the way it differs from general fitness training, and how there is a lot more to it than just increasing your lung capacity. Working on and improving your stamina is the most important thing to focus on when trying to get fit for football in two weeks.
One of the main things to consider when taking part in football training is how far you can run and how you can improve your stamina. One of the best exercises for football and one that most Premier League players use to improve their VO2 Max (the maximum rate at which someone's body can consume oxygen during exercise), is interval training.
A really effective drill football clubs have been using for years, a lot of footballers would say this is the best exercise for developing football fitness.
How to do it
Use a treadmill or a grass pitch
Run for 4 minutes at around an 8 out of 10 intensity (10 being your fastest).
After 4 minutes of running, perform a 3-minute light jog at around 5 out of 10 intensity.
This would equal one set.
Perform 4 sets for a total of 28 minutes work.
We recommend doing this twice a week for 8 weeks. Using Agility Cones means you vary your footwork, particularly whilst sprinting, as you can round them using different footwork techniques. You can also use cones as a way of incorporating a short burst of maximum speed to mark out where playersshould be running up to.
2.Agility Quick Steps
Acceleration and speed are a key part of a footballers training, especially sprinting. Often footballers will be caught out by their opponents if they cannot keep up with them and so this is an essential area for both attackers and defenders to work on.
Method: Agility Quick Steps
agility ladder to practice quick feet in a diagonal direction.
How to do it
Stand so the agility ladder is on your right and start sprinting laterally through the agility ladder by lifting your right foot high and into the first box as quickly as you can
Immediately follow with your left and move diagonally down the ladder until you reach the end
Make sure you land safely on the balls of your feet with your toes pointing up.
Repeat drill 25 times. complete in sets of 4.
Using an agility ladder is much better than just doing quick feet on your grass or in a gym as it ensures you are placing your feet in the space provided. Agility ladder drills also require quick thinking and responsive behaviour meaning this can help improve mental performance.
How to increase strength for football
The most successful footballers are strong as well as agile. This not only is beneficial on the pitch when coming up against opponents, but is also essential for preventing injury. The physicality of contact sport means that athletes, especially younger athletes, must be structurally strong and conditioned to compete safely.
1.Strength for Jumping
Dumbbell bench-step ups are really important for strength and conditioning as these will help develop the same muscle group you will be using when quickly switching from sprinting to jumping when winning the ball back.
Method: Dumbbell bench-step
A really effective strengthening drill to help on the pitch as well as ensuring you are working a variety of muscles in the gym.
How to do it
Stand next to a bench and hold a pair of dumbbells at arm's length by your side
Place the foot closest to the bench onto the bench
Lean into the bench until the other leg is straight, whilst still holding the dumbbells at your side.
Hold this position for 5 seconds before returning to starting position
How to do it
Repeat this 15 times in sets of 4.
Using dumbbells as part of your exercise routine not only helps to build muscle so you are stronger when coming up against your opponents, but it also helps strengthen your core. A particular benefit of lifting weights for football players is the reduce to injury as you will strengthen your joints, ligaments and tendons.
Although running is a large part of football and particularly improving your stamina, changing direction and your position on the pitch at pace is much more physically demanding. Developing your explosive power is something which will help with rapid changes of direction during matches and contribute to your stamina as you build your strength.
Method: Jump Squats
Use different heights and platforms to perform a variety of different jumps which land in a squat to improve strength. It is often question if squats are good for football, and this exercises the importance of building strength in your glutes and improving your speed too.
How to do it
Complete two-footed jumps over the hurdles, landing in a squat
The complete a squat as normal
Return to your starting position and repeat.
Repeat the drill 20 times before having a 30 second rest. Repeat the set 4 times. You can also incorporate different plyometric exercises, such as thrust squats, burpees with a tuck jump or any kind of box jump. Complete in sets of 20 and also run four times through.
Agility hurdles are a valuable piece of equipment to have as they help with agility, foot speed, balance and coordination. Practising drills using the agility hurdles means footballers concentrate on their footwork and incorporating higher ones too means quicker motions are practised.
How do footballers train their legs?
While general fitness is important, having strength, agility and stamina in your legs is arguably the most important part of training to play football.
1.Leg training for sprints
This helps strengthen your legs as well as improve footwork and agility on the pitch. Your opposition will always be trying to outwit you and get the ball out from your feet, making it is essential to be quick footed and resilient against their challenges.
Method: Lateral Hurdle Sprints
Side jumping over hurdles is a really good way to strengthen your quads and your ankles to be as flexible as possible both on and off the ball.
How to do it
Place a mini hurdle on the floor at each side of your body
Lift up your right leg and quickly step over the hurdle. Bring your left foot over to join it
Move your left foot back over to the middle with the right foot following. Then do the same using the hurdle to your left.
Do this for 90 seconds and then have a 30 second rest. Repeat 4 times.
Incorporating hurdles ensures as a footballer you are focusing on improving your speed and balance. It also varies your workout so you are likely to persist with it and not get bored as easily.
Being able to change direction quickly and effectively is crucial during a football game. You don't want to your opponent to figure out what you're doing, and if they do, you want to be strong enough on your turn so that they can't catch you.
Method: Forwards-backwards sprints
This will help you prepare for abrupt shifts in direction, training your body to move quickly in any direction and strengthening your legs so they can withstand it.
How to do it
Set out agility poles 20m apart
Sprint forward from the first pole to the second. When you get to the pole, dodge around it and run back to the previous pole as quickly as you can
Alternate between running backwards from the first pole to the next and changing direction to sprint forwards, to running forwards to the first pole and then changing direction to sprint backwards
You can also use a mannequin as a mark as something to run around if you prefer
Do as many as you can in 2 minutes. Repeat the set 4 times.
Agility poles are a really useful piece of equipment as they give you a more life-size expectation of a player in a football match. If you are able to maintain your balance and core strength navigating around these, then you can relate this skill directly to a football game.
The full training range is now available to shop where you can tailor your selections based on the training schedule you follow.