You need a very specific fitness for football games, in particular 11-a-side games.
The stop-start nature of matches and player movement rhythms means that, to improve your football fitness, you should focus on work-rest-style exercises. Whatever position you play in, it’s this kind of workout that you need to be doing.
These drills will help you build the speed, stamina and power you need to go all out over 90 minutes or more.
5 drills to help improve your fitness for football
Drill 1# Alternate four-minute jogs with four-minute higher-intensity runs. Do five reps of each and then rest. When you’re ready, set out some cones, get a football and introduce some footwork to the jog-run reps.
This will help build the particular stamina fitness you need for matches.
Drill 2# In the short bursts that football fitness is all about, it’s vital that you can really burst. This means working on your hamstrings and quads. Sled and bungee cord pulls are great for this: start with five reps of 50m-pulls with short rests in between.
This will help build your sprint speed and get you flying past your opponents.
Drill 3# Sometimes pure pace isn’t enough (especially if your opponent is quicker). That’s why you need to be able to change direction quickly. Set out your cones in a zig-zag formation and, keeping the ball at your feet, weave your way around them. Repeat as many times as you want, getting faster every time.
This will help build the agility you need to run and turn at full speed.
Drill #4 Running, dribbling and turning in a football game require more than muscle and speed. You also need balance. The exercise is simple: in a standing position, raise one leg off the ground and hold for 30 seconds – and by doing it in your rest times, it’s easy to fit into your training routine.
The greater balance you have, the better your all-round game will be.
Drill #5 To help make sure you don’t pick up any injuries, it’s critical that you warm down properly after every training session or match. It seems like a straightforward thing to do but after a work-out or game, it’s surprisingly easy to dismiss or forget. Spend a good 15 minutes stretching out.
A proper recovery routine will help you stay at peak fitness.
Ideally, you’ll be building these football fitness drills into your pre-season training – they’ll help give you an advantage over your opponents when the season kicks off.
But if you’re using them during the season, it’s a good idea to dial down the intensity of the drills or give yourself a day or two after doing them before you play; this will ensure that you’re not low on energy come match day.