Tim Howard USA (Everton) Goalkeeper

It’s Here! A glorious summer soccer event occurring once every four years throwing fans worldwide into a football frenzy: FIFA World Cup! All are fixated on festive Brazil and the game for the next month. With that in mind, as well as the sport’s exploding popularity here in the States, I present the keys to training like an elite soccer player:

Soccer is an incredibly demanding sport requiring high levels of cardiovascular endurance, speed, agility and strength. Gone are the days of soccer players being “average joe” types with silky ball skills and enjoying a pint of beer and pies on a regular basis. Today’s players are ….?… physical specimens athletically rivaling any pro sportsmen on the planet. In order to develop this all around athleticism, they train in a wide variety of ways:

Cardiovascular Conditioning
Soccer players undergo two types of cardiovascular condition, aerobic and anaerobic. The aerobic conditioning usually takes place during preseason training and involves longer duration lower intensity running in order to build base endurance. These runs typically last 60-90 minutes maintaining a heart rate around 55-60% of each player’s HR Max. Anaerobic training takes place during both preseason and the actual season. Sessions are usually about 45 minutes of alternating high intensity periods (85-95%HR Max) and moderate intensity recovery periods (50-60%HR Max).

Sample Anaerobic Cardio Conditioning:

Set up 2 cones 25 yards apart, sprint from cone A to cone B, then jog back to cone A. Repeat this for 10 minutes

On a 1/4 mile (400 meter) track: sprint the straight aways, jog the bends. Work your way up to the Pro’s 32 laps or 8 miles!

Strength Training
Soccer players undergo both strength and power training. The power training is usually done during the preseason where the strength and conditioning coaches oversee programs that include Olympic lifting, squats, deadlifts and plyometrics. The In season program is directed more to maintenance and local muscular endurance, so higher repetitions and less weight.


Power cleans – 4 sets of 3 reps @ 85% of 1RM
Jerk Press – 4 sets of 4-6 reps @ 80% of 1RM
Squats – 4 sets of 6-8 reps @ 75-80% of 1RM
Deadlifts – 4 sets of 6-8 reps @ 75-80% of 1RM
Bow Jumps – 4 sets of 6 reps onto 48″ or higher bench

Sample In-Season Session:
Bench Press – 4 sets of 10-12 reps @ 60% 1RM
Pull Ups – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
Standing Shoulder Press – 4 sets of 10-12 reps @ 60% 1RM
Dumbbell Rows – 4 sets of 10-12 reps @ 60% 1RM
Squats – 4 sets of 10-12 reps @ 60% 1RM
Deadlifts- 4 sets of 10-12 reps @ 60% 1RM
Leg Extensions – 3 sets of 30 reps @ 30% 1RM
Leg Curls – 3 sets of 30 reps @ 30% 1R

Cristiano Ronaldo Forward PORTUGAL (Real Madrid)

Agility Training
Agility and balance are also vital for soccer players, so both during preseason and in the season, soccer players undergo various types of agility training to improve their lateral mobility, balance and proprioception.

Sample Agility Session:
Ladder Drills: do each 5 times with 30 sec rest between
Icky Shuffle
Lateral 2 in 2 out
Cone Drill: do each 5 times with 30 sec rest in between
Cone linear weave
3 cone drill
Shuttle drill

Gotta credit my wife Whitney for helping me with this blog…and not surprisingly…picking the photos!