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Soccer: How to Build Your Endurance for the Pitch

I thought I was in pretty good shape going into my first recreational soccer game. I knew that soccer required a great deal of stamina and bursts of power and speed. However, I was not prepared for the reality of a game; at a full 90 minutes of gameplay, soccer is one of the most intense cardiovascular sports. I had never done so much sprinting and jogging in my life.
   
As bad luck would have it, my first game did not include any spare players, so we lucky few were out there for the full game. There were moments that I just could not keep up, and I had to watch breathlessly, bent over, hands on my knees gasping for air like a fish out of water as the opposing team carried off the ball.
   
The next day, I could barely walk because my legs felt like cement. Lesson learned. I vowed to improve my conditioning by focusing on the specific requirements of playing soccer.

How to Increase Stamina for Soccer

Soccer requires that you train in a sport-specific manner. A soccer pitch is massive, and you will likely cover a lot of ground during a game. Consider what occurs during a soccer game, and you will understand your training needs a little better. There are easy jogs, explosive sprints, long-distance runs, cutting and turning quickly, powerful jumps, and strong kicks during a game.

Some of this requires your body to perform either aerobically or anaerobically.

  • Aerobic exercise occurs with oxygen, so think long periods of activity such as running, walking, or swimming.
  • Anaerobic exercise occurs in the absence of oxygen, so think intense, quick movements such as a sprint or resistance training.

Soccer requires a balance of both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, as well as a very high level of general fitness.

So, your fitness routine should include both low and high-intensity exercises, and it should also challenge your agility, speed, balance, and power. 

Soccer Endurance Training & Cardio Workouts

  • To prepare for soccer, very intense workouts for around 30 to 45 minutes will serve you well. Mix up these workouts, and keep them fresh, so your body is always getting a challenge.
  • Look in your area for a challenging set of stairs to climb at a run or an outdoor hiking trail.
  • Try interval running, Fartleks, and cross-training to really amp up your endurance.

I found that running sprints of various lengths, with an easy jog back to my starting point, really improved my ability to play an entire game.

  • Work in some resistance training twice a week, and don’t forget those muscles other than your legs, such as your core, upper body, and arms.
  • Check into your local pool, and do some deep water running with sprints.

I’m obsessed with HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training; you can accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time. There are many online videos and apps that offer excellent, quick HIIT workouts that require little to no equipment.

Pain After or During Soccer?

It’s also important to listen to your body; when pain or discomfort arises, pay attention.

  • Is the pain just typical post-workout discomfort or something more?

If the pain is severe, lasts for longer than usual, or if your range of motion is limited, it may be time to check in with your health care team. The same advice applies if you aren’t sure about the source or type of pain you are experiencing.

Pain is our body’s way of telling us something isn’t right, so it’s essential to listen.

Tips How to Recover After Playing Soccer

Looking after yourself well after a workout or competition is just as critical as your training and conditioning. Being proactive about your recovery and relief will help you to avoid injuries, muscle soreness, and time on the bench.

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