Soccer is a sport that requires an athlete to perform short and long sprints throughout a match, which utilizes both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. These two systems differ by the fuel that the body uses to complete the short and long sprints. The duration of a game is 90 minutes which taps into the athlete’s aerobic endurance system, but to perform repeated fast sprints over time requires anaerobic endurance capacity as well. An easy way to train both these systems at once is through interval training. Interval training entails high work levels interspersed with periods of low activity or rest. This type of training will effectively train both of these important fuel systems.
Another way to optimize any athlete or athletic team, no matter what the sport, is to focus on three key aspects: speed, strength, and power. Exercises that will ensure these three things are met should focus on multi-joint (whole body) exercises, core strength/stability, and explosiveness. This doesn’t mean that ball work, team drills, and distance running are not important for success on the soccer field, but to gain a competitive edge a change to your normal practice routine may need to be made.
Deceleration and changing direction are two fundamental attributes a well rounded soccer player must have. When coaching an athlete to become proficient at these two things, make sure to emphasize proper body position and mechanics. Setting up drills that simulate game-like situations can be very beneficial to educating an athlete on proper technique. Videotaping these drills if possible can be a useful tool to show an athlete what they are doing well and what they can improve on.
If the previously mentioned concepts are incorporated into a practice schedule, be it pre-season or in-season, there should be so noticeable improvements in performance and hopefully prevention of unnecessary injuries.