Conditioning Training for Soccer Players

Testing Soccer Players Endurance

Long Distance Runs Might Not be Best for Soccer Players and Might Train Muscles "Wrong"

(The following is from the Premium Forum. Mike wrote asking for ideas about evaluating his High School team. He said he has a top team and will have 100-150 players try out. He mentioned that he planned to have them run 2 miles to test endurance.)


I like your ideas but have 2 suggestions:

  1. I've read several studies recently that say long runs are not a good idea for soccer training. The reason is that they aren't what occurs in a soccer game and that distance running "trains" muscles in a different way than sprints do (this is why marathoners don't win sprints and why sprinters don't win marathons). This makes sense to me and I believe it is true. I would at least consider it carefully. I think a better approach than the 2 mile run would be a series of 50 to 70 yard runs (or whatever you think a typical long run would be in a soccer game. What's the longest sprint each player would typically be required to run at the most? Would it be 50 yards? 70 yards?). If you practice on a full sized field, an easy way to do it would be to require players to sprint across the field 4, 5 or 6 times and time their sprints (that would tell you who could win a 50 or 60 yard race, or whatever the width of your field is -- typically 50 to 70 yards wide). Then, back across with perhaps a 30 second break. Then again etc. I think that type of running will tell you more about how they will do in a real soccer game since they will have to sprint at full speed each time. You not only test their speed, but you are testing their endurance by seeing who wins the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th fifty to seventy yard sprint.
  2. My other suggestion is to emphasize something you mention: Try to have every activity involve competition and/or pressure. As you well know, some players look great when they aren't under pressure but not good when pressured, and others do better under pressure. I recommend that you try to have EVERY drill, practice game and evaluation involve competition and/or pressure. As you mention, you can have them race against time or compete against each other. Competition and pressure will train your players to play FAST and under pressure -- training slow trains players to play slow. For similar reasons, I suggest that if you play a weak team, think about letting your second team play -- if you play a team that is a lot slower or less skilled than your team, it gives your players a chance to play sloppy and slow and still win. Then, when they play a good team the next game, it's a problem -- you see this in all types of sports -- after a big, easy, blow-out win a team has to be careful not to have a let-down and lose to a weaker team.

I hope these ideas have merit.

Please let us know what works best for you.

Thanks for being a Member and for writing.

David at SoccerHelp