Online Personal Training: In-game Dynamics of Soccer

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a report on the conditioning of soccer players. The study looked at the sprinting activity of professional soccer players. The study involved 147 players who played in 10 matches of the 2008-09 and 2010-11 UEFA Europa League seasons. The study distinguished two types of sprints – short duration (less than 5 seconds) and long duration (more than 5 seconds). Additionally, sprints were classified according to their distance: 0-10, 10.1-20.0, and >20 m, respectively. The analysis of the sprinting activity of soccer players also involved their respective positions of play.

The statistical analysis revealed that the mean total sprint distance covered by players amounted to 237 ± 123 m. With regard to the position of play, the forwards covered the longest sprint distance, 9% longer than midfielders and over 100% longer than central midfielders. The average number of sprints performed by the soccer players was 11.2. The study emphasized that about 90% of sprints performed by professional soccer players were shorter than 5 seconds, whereas only 10% were longer than 5 seconds.

Of course the numbers might be different for youth or high school players. But the main takeaway no matter what level is that the sprints in soccer are explosive and short in both distance and time.

As such, soccer training should focus on quick sprints, quick change of direction and so-called “explosiveness”. Focusing on long jogging motions (“run 8 laps around the track”) does very little to improve the performance of soccer players.

“Explosiveness” – a quick first step, the ability to accelerate quickly, etc. can be developed with not only sprints and change of direction exercises, but with jumping drills, deadlifts and cleans.

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