Nutrition for Football

Nutrition for Football

Fitness Nutrition and Energy

Donovan's Sweat Test




What is Fitness

what is fitness?

There are different definitions of fitness actually means, but one common way it is described is as the 5 S's

  • speed
  • strength
  • stamina
  • suppleness
  • skill

    Two other S's sometimes associated with describing fitness are

  • specificity (what do you need to fit for)
  • spirit (psychological aspect)

    One key element is specifity, in that what you want to be fit for, determines which of these S's has the most weight or importance. For example, a golfer would not need much speed but would need a lot of skill.

    A 100m sprinter, needs speed, strength, but not much stamina, a gymnast needs strength, skill, suppleness and stamina. However this stamina is different from the type of stamina that an endurance runner needs.

    Team sports like soccer make it even harder to determine what areas of fitness are required. The types required will depend upon positions and role in the team, but one key area is skill and specifity. Soccer players should be soccer players first and athletes second. This doesn't mean that their athletic areas of fitness, speed, strength, stamina etc. are not important, because they are, but skill and specifity and perhaps spirit are the most important.

    Having said that, a very skillful player who cannot last the whole match due to lack of stamina, or cannot get to the ball due to lack of speed, is not as useful to the team as the player who has slightly less skill, but more speed and stamina.

    There are two specific types of stamina that we are interested in and these aerobic and anaerobic.


    Aerobic fitness determines the level at which you can take in and use oxygen to perform an activity. An activity like walking doesn't put much stress on your body and most people can cope with this aerobic activity. Aerobic activities are activities like jogging, where you can continue without getting too tired. You work at a rate which means you don't get completely fatigued or out of breath. Aearobic training will increase the level at which this fatigue takes place, and will make your heart and lungs more efficient for exercise. You will be able to run further and faster before getting tired.


    Anaerobic fitness determines the level at which you can work at a high intensity. This usually means short bursts of activity, where you will often be out of breath. You are working at a level where your body cannot provide enough oxygen and your muscles need to get energy from glycogen. You can only work for a short time at this level before you get too fatigued and go into something called "oxygen debt". An examples of anaerobic exercise is sprinting. Anaerobic training, will make your body more efficient at using glycogen as a stored fuel and also help it deal with oxygen debt. One effect of oxygen debt is the build up of lactic acid, which is felt when your legs for example, feel a burning sensation at the end of an intense long sprint. This lactic acid needs to be removed from muscles as quickly as possible and anaerobic training helps make your muuscles more efficient at coping with lactic acid and better at removing waste products from muscles.

    soccer fitness

    Soccer players need a combination of aerobic and anaerobic fitness due to the nature of the game and the fact that there is continuous movement with lots of short bursts of more intense activity. Some positions require higher levels of anaerobic fitness than others, some require more aerobic fitness. A midfield player, is required to cover a lot of ground during a game and needs a good aerobic engine. A striker on the other hand requires short bursts of repeated activity and requires more speed and anaerobic fitness.

    One key aspect of fitness that soccerfitness.net recognises is that each player is different and has different training requirements dependant upon their inherant physical abilities, their desire to train, age and position played. Soccer is a team sport and as such, players train together as a team. This is important for many reasons, but it also means that not all conditioning type sessions or activities have equal benefits across all players.

    Where time is available to test and analyse results, it is much better if programs can be tailored for each player or group of players with the same requirements. I feel this is important from around the age of 13 and up, when the effects of training have much more of an impact. Conditioning and speed training at 10-13 years has less impact. A recent FA coaching report, suggested that players 10-12 benefit from training in that it prepares them physically and mentally for training when they are older. Their motor skills develop and they learn skills like how to run fast, as well as obvious ball skills when carrying out normal soccer skills training.

    Once past puberty, speed endurance and strength, speed sessions will have more impact. Before that stage, sessions should not be too intense, involving shorter sessions with little emphasis on stamina. Plyometrics and strength building activities should be carried it with great care pre-puberty. soccerfitness.net prefers to use low level strength and plyometric exercises with younger players, only to get techniques right, and prepare the body for more intense training when they get older.

    At all times, however, speed and conditioning sessions are secondary to work done with the ball. Individual skills and team play are the key elements to successful, but having fitness can only make a good player better.


  • Speed Training


    Speed is an essential component of most sports. Someone who is said to be fast is someone useful to have in a team. But what does speed, or being fast mean? It doesn't just mean being able to sprint 100 metres in a fast time. Being able to run fast in a straight line is great for a track athlete but for a lot of sports, and especially for soccer, speed means a few things.

    For soccer we see speed as:

  • 1. the ability to accelerate quickly
  • 2. a high maximum speed
  • 3. the ability to react quickly to situations
  • 4. being able twist, turn and change direction quickly
  • 5. the ability to produce bursts of fast running throughout the game
  • 6. the ability to read a situation and anticipate
  • 7. the ability to move the ball and use the ball at speed

    The first five elements are areas that we can improve upon in specific speed training. The last two are areas that are specific to soccer training with a ball.

    Some key points to remember when doing specific speed sessions (that is sessions without a ball) are:

  • Players must be fully warmed up
  • Speed work should be done at the start of a session when players are fresh
  • Speed requires explosive movement and care should be taken if players tired or have injuries.
  • Good form and technque together with relaxation is the key to running fast.

    A lot of people say that sprinters are born and not made, and while it is true that genetics plays a large part in a players ability to move quickly, all players can improve all aspects that make up speed.

    These are just some of the ideas I use when working on different aspects of speed.


    To get acceleration, a player needs to move his/her feet very quickly, gradually increasing stride length as he/she drives forward. Fast feet drills, using speed ladders etc. can greatly help a players acceleration as well as coordination. Strength can be increased using sprint drills and low intensity plyometrics (for players 13+).

    Weight training is ideal to gain specific strength but not for youth players under the age of 16 or so.

    maximum speed

    Maximum speed requires leg strength and leg speed. One way in which youth players can gain more leg strength and leg speed is to work on sprint drills. These are drills that break down the sprinting action and work on specific areas. I like to use these as part of a long warm up session and usually perform them over roughly 20-30 metres. With all these drills, it is important that the arm action is strong and relaxed. Mimic the arm action of sprinting style, so for instance if doing bum kicks, don't try and kick your hand that you place behind you, run with normal arm action.

  • Bum kicks, concentrate on leg speed
  • High knees, taking care not to lean back
  • Skips for height
  • Skips for length
  • Bounds for length (players 13+)
  • Hops for length (players 13+)

    Do 2 to 4 repetitions of good quality drills, slow jog or walk back to recover.

    reaction speed

    Having players sprint when they are given a command. The command can be visual or a sound. Remember that in game situations, they will usually react to visual stimuli. It is also a good idea to have players react while they are moving rather than standing still. Players would not normally be stationary during a game, and nor would they usually be required to react quickly and at speed from a stationary position.

    Lots of fun game type drills can be used, where players in pairs react to a command or signal as part of race or relay. This keeps players concentrating on the command and therefore making their running reaction more natural and relaxed. In other words, rather than have them stationary, then you say "set" "go", they are running on the spot and may have to jump, turn, or sprint forwards, backwards etc.

    change direction

    Setup drills and sprints where the players are not just running in a straight line. Get them to run back then forwards, side to side, then back, diagonally etc. In a game there are no restrictions on the directions they will so incorporate multi direction runs into speed training.

    sustain speed

    Speed endurance is the ability to hold close to maximum speed for as long as possible, a 400 metre runner has good speed endurance. A soccer player, needs elements of speed endurance but also need to be able to carry out many short bursts of effort during a match. To train for this requires, interval type training, with high intensity and a reasonable recovery period. This type of training, should take place once the player has had some base training to get some initial endurance on which to build more specific speed endurance.

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