Like any sport, players have to be at a high level of fitness to withstand a full 90 minutes of play that sees them covering lots of terrain. George Boyd covered 12km per match on average in the 2014/2015 season – making him the sport’s hardest working player. It’s not uncommon to see players performing around 10k per game and doing around 40 explosive sprints.
However, there’s far more to a football player’s fitness than being able to run distance. Players need to be agile, strong, quick and capable of enduring the different paces set throughout a game. Each position needs specialist skills that can be boosted with fitness training.
Goalkeepers have to have agility, quick reflexes and aerobic endurance as they’re often playing for the full length of the game. To build their cat-like reflexes, explosive football training drills come in useful. A keeper can perform ‘Doggies’ to drill fitness. They consist of:
1. Sprinting from the goal line to the edge of the six-yard box and back.
2. Sprint from the goal line to the penalty spot and then back.
3. Sprint to the end of the 18-yard box and then return.
4. Each set of three sprints is one repetition. Keepers perform these in sets of 3 reps with 1-2 minutes rest and ultimately complete 3 sets of 3.
Keepers can also spend time in the gym working on their explosiveness with weighted squats and box jumps, making them leap further to make saves.
Defenders need to be able to command their team’s box and have a tactical brain to deal with the challenges of the game. Interval training lets them keep attacking without running out of energy. A defender needs to be able to mimic their game performance in their training, so they can mix up sprints with squat jumps to simulate jumping for a header.
Midfielders: The position that covers the most distance, a midfielder needs football endurance training to keep them going on the pitch. MaxiNutrition ambassador Jordan Henderson covered 360km by April 2014 in the 2013/14 season – the equivalent of around eight marathons. Heavy endurance training is needed to excel in the midfield slot.
Strikers: The most-agile of all positions, a striker needs to be able to burst into sprints and then angle shots with a moment’s notice. It’s also the striker’s job to put pressure on defence, so strength and conditioning work with barbell squats, deadlifts and the overhead press help make your game more physical. Agility training drills will help you change directions and shift angles when you’re coming in to score.
If you’d like to know more about football training drills, head over to MaxiNutrition’s football hub for advice and plans that will boost your skills and make you a better player.