How Much Conditioning is Enough For Your Soccer Team?

Running is Important - (Photo: Predawnrunner.com)

Nobody likes conditioning practice.  It is boring, and it is grueling.  But in many cases it can be vitally important.  Games are often won or lost in the dying moments of the match, and that slight difference of fitness level can often be the determining factor of deciding a victor.  Therefore, inserting some running drills into your team’s practice can pay big dividends.

Anyone who watched the American Women’s National Team defeat Canada in the Olympic semifinals at the death of overtime yesterday will have witnessed the importance of fitness.  Players on both sides were struggling with all their might to keep up runs and energy.  Several players went down with cramps and could barely walk.

So how much physical exercise and running should your team do?  Obviously it depends on the age, but once the children reach the age of 10 there should definitely be some aspect of training devoted to simply running.

A good drill to install would be one where the team runs in a single file line around the perimeter of the field.  The pace is a casual jog, but the player in the back sprints to the front of the line.  When he arrives, the new player in the back begins his forward sprint, and so the process goes.  This drill can continue as long as you want, but usually 15 minutes is a good start.  The great part about the drill is that it totally captures the nature of running on the pitch during a game.  Players jog to get in position but must sprint when needed to make runs or defend.

Determining how much running is right for your team is an inexact science.  Also, you will not want to overdo it because most children do not usually enjoy that aspect of training.  Therefore, take care to monitor the fitness of the team during the latter stages of a game.  If your team is hanging their heads and not totally fighting at the game’s end, perhaps you should devote a greater part of practice to simple exercise.  Typically, these sorts of drills do help out with fitness surprisingly fast.  Also, they provide an excellent way to improve the overall health of your team.

But be careful to limit the amount of running you impose upon the players.  Too much running, and not enough fun, and your team’s morale will suffer and you’ll begin to hear the moans of sloth rampant around your squad.  Therefore, keep it to a healthy amount but do not shy away from the practice entirely as it is vitally important to your soccer team’s success.  Also, feel free to join in the runs.  If you suffer along with them, they can’t blame you.


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