Soccer Fitness And Conditioning For Kids
Soccer, at any age is a physical game. It involves running. It involves twisting and turning. It involves jumping and kicking and tackling. And as young players mature, the stresses and strains of the competitive environment become greater and greater.
At the end of the day, your level of fitness will dictate how effectively you can apply your skill on the soccer field.
Even some of the soccer's greatest players like Ronaldo (Brazil) & Ronaldinho have struggled a bit when they weren't at peak fitness.
The greater a player's aerobic capacity, the more ground they cover during a typical game (5,6). Additionally, improved endurance also increases the number of sprints completed in a game (7). By improving the VO2max of youth soccer players by 11% over an 8 week period, a 20% increase in total distance covered during competitive match play was manifested, along with a 23% increase in involvements with the ball and a 100% increase in the number of sprints performed by each player .
Strength training for soccer also helps to correct muscle imbalances. Soccer players in particualr are prone to developing overly strong quadriceps in relation to their hamstrings and a well-formed strength plan can address this and prevent future injury.
There are many elements of soccer fitness that players require when they play a game. Factors like speed, agility and endurance are important elements that players require on the soccer field. I find that using a variety of small sided games is an effective way of training these different elements of fitness whilst not having to make the players do fitness drills. In an ideal world the players will not even realise that they are doing fitness drills.
In terms of soccer fitness and conditioning your first thought should always be that kids are not just little adults. If you try to use adult fitness drills with kids they will usually lose interest very quickly and become discouraged. Use a ball as often as possible in your fitness drills in order to maximise the number of ball touches that each player receives during the training session. I find that the best way to do this is to use a variety of small sided games with players so as to teach them the different elements of soccer fitness that they require. The most important elements of soccer fitness for kids are speed, agility and endurance, and the soccer drills and small sided games that you use should focus on developing these elements in each of your players.