Professional soccer is one of the most physically demanding sports in existence. Due to the length of a traditional soccer field and the length of the intervals of constant play, soccer players are among the best trained and the most fit athletes in the world. However this is not an easy task, training and conditioning for professional soccer matches is extremely difficult and requires both dedication and concentration.
Therefore if watching your local soccer matches has inspired hopes of becoming an athlete or at least getting in better shape, you better start looking at treadmill reviews to find a device to use in your home if you even hope to keep up with star soccer players.
Besides concentration and hard work, one of the essentials of soccer training is endurance. Popular endurance exercises include shuttle drills and step jumps. Step jumps involve vertically jumping over cones, with the body bent over so that the knees touch the chest. These are completed with very short recuperation periods in between sets.
On the other hand, shuttle drills require constant sprinting and tend to significantly weaken the leg muscles during the drill. For endurance purposes, many soccer players must also stick to a strict dietary regimen, including a high intake of healthy carbohydrates and lean meats, which increase biological glycogen levels and enhance performance.
Speed training, which can be extremely physically taxing, is another exercise many professional soccer players have to endure in order to stay in peak condition. Some drills include stepping strides, during which the soccer player runs down a length of markers as fast as possible, making sure that his or her steps are at least one marker apart. This is done at a full sprint and must be repeated several times before the optimal result is achieved.
Due to the strenuous nature of speed and endurance training, it is crucial for soccer players to stretch well, both before and after training. Stretching increases flexibility and circulation, making for better cellular respiration while exercising and a decrease in lactic acid build up (which can result in muscular cramping, an effect that can seriously undermine a soccer player’s performance). Stretching also improves muscle and joint movement, increasing the player’s balance and mobility on the field.
Furthermore, because of the stress placed on the body during training and during actual matches, many soccer players suffer from dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it takes in. Due to the amount of perspiration and the amount of water used on a cellular level during practices, players must hydrate often to prevent hospitalization.
Soccer players must also be wary of muscular strains and tears. Though stretching helps to prevent such catastrophes, the stress placed on the body by endurance, speed drills and actual performance often results in detrimental physical circumstances. MLS and World Cup players, however, are well aware of the rigor involved in soccer training.
Landon Donovan, a player for the MLS LA Galaxy, and Michael Bradley, both U.S. stars of the 2010 World Cup, use training and conditioning methods developed by the U.S. National Men’s Soccer team fitness coach, Pierre Barrieu. Barrieu has Donovan, Bradley and the other National players warm up differently than other teams. After stretching, they perform speed warm ups. This technique improves speed, builds muscle memory and involves being light on your feet and being quick off the ground.
For conditioning, the team also runs at 75 percent intensity for 45 minutes a set. They do two to three sets, with three-minute rest intervals. Then the players run at 85 percent intensity for five to seven minutes. They do four to five of these sets, also with three-minute rest intervals. This exercise increases their lactic acid thresholds and endurance capabilities and prevents muscle cramping.
In all, professional soccer players know that hydrating, stretching and eating a balanced diet is the first step to surviving training and conditioning. Keeping up with professional soccer players is no easy task. With extreme focus on endurance, speed, balance and strength, soccer remains the most popular and most physically strenuous sport in the world.
The author of this article is Aaron O’Connor. He is a former track & field athlete, currently a writer and amateur fitness trainer in Washington, USA.