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Tips to Get in Shape For Soccer

Soccer requires constant motion and movement and the ability to run up and down the field. While there are moments when players can rest, there are also times when players have to sprint the length of the field and back again at full speed. This is grueling and excruciating, but not out of the ordinary. Staying in shape throughout the year is advisable, but soccer players must work on specific game-related drills to play at a high level.

Step 1
Divide your team into groups of five. Three players in each group are on offense, and two are on defense. In an area about 20 square yards, have the offensive trio play keep-away from the defense. Any time the offense can make three successful passes in a row, they get a point. Any time the defense forces an error from the offense or takes the ball away, they get a point. Play for 3 minutes at a time and then switch up the partners. The same five players continue to go at it, but the defensive players move to offense, and the offensive players switch as well. Do this drill for 25 to 30 minutes total. It is exhausting but effective.

Step 2
Work on leg strength by having your players jump over a short bench (8 to 10 inches high) going side to side. Jump over it once left to right and follow that with a right-to-left jump. Repeat this exercise five to eight times. Players will feel the lactic acid burn, and it will build leg strength.

Step 3
Shuttle runs are perhaps the most effective drill for soccer players because this exercise conditions players to run at top speed for short bursts. Start at the end line of the field and set up sets of cones every 10 yards until you are 50 yards away from the end line. Have your players run to the first set of cones and back, to the second set of cones and back and so on until they get to the fifth set, 50 yards away. This full-speed run is demanding and effective at getting players into shape for soccer.

Step 4
Work on the ability to dribble the ball in an enclosed area. Take two players of equal ability and put them in a 10-yard square area. Have one player dribble throughout the square and keep the ball away from the defender. The player with the ball should get to each of the four corners of the square while possessing the ball within a 1-minute period. Then give the other player the same opportunity. Repeat this drill at least three times.

Before practice, have your players stretch all their muscles, but especially those in the lower half of the body. Players should stretch their calf muscles, quadriceps, thighs and glutes before strenuous running and sprinting.