It doesn't matter whether it is the start of the season or half way through a season you always want your players to be 100% ready for match day and that means hard work, especially at the beginning of a season or after a break like the end of the year when players are not training for a couple of weeks and need to exercise.
You want them ready to show off their skills to the best of their ability and not be shackled by tiredness or weak muscles. Hitting a shot from outside the area needs strength in the legs or running back 40 yards to stop a counter attack needs plenty of stamina.
And, as a coach, the last thing you want to have to work about is the fitness and performance of your players so for the older age groups you can set them tasks to do at home to help them to improve their game.
As a coach you should also be working on your fitness, no one wants to see you puffing and panting away when there's a hill to climb or a bit of a long walk to the pitch. You need to be agile to get around the training ground and give a good example to the male and female players that you coach.
One of the main ways to underpin everything that you will work on is to make sure you do not neglect strength and power. Strength training helps you to develop as a player by building up the right muscles for a match-ready body. Working on upper and lower body strength will help when you are holding off a defender or forcing play away from the goal in the attack. And of course, strength is helpful when you hit those unstoppable shots from outside the penalty area!
The things I want my players to work on at home or at the gym will help:
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Best Soccer Workouts for Home & Gym
Start off by getting your heart rate bouncing:
- Box Jumps for 30 seconds – You need to stand facing a box which is 12 – 24 inches in height – then jump from standing onto the box, trying to land both feet at the same time. Then jump back down. Simple!
- High Knees for 30 seconds – Stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart facing forward with an open chest. Jump bringing you knees as high as you can (waist level is about right).
- Squat jumps for 30 seconds – Feet should be shoulder width apart with knees slightly bent. Drop to a squat then push upwards from the feet extending the legs and jumping with feet a few inches off the floor.
- Star Jumps 20 seconds – Jump up and spread legs wide and arms raised up also wide making a star shape with your body. Return to a position with the feet together and the arms at the sides.
- Lateral jumps 20 seconds – Start with feet shoulder width apart, bend knees and get into a quarter squat. Jump straight up but twist body to the side and repeat to the opposite side and continue back and forth.
- Mountain Climbers 30 seconds – Start in a high plank position, arms under your shoulders, body in a straight line resting on your toes. Left knee goes to right elbow and back to the beginning, then do the same on the other side.
Stair workouts use a plyometric motion, which strengthens leg muscles (and the smaller, often-underdeveloped stabilizer muscles), and gives high-intensity cardio for your lungs and heart.
- Run and down a flight of stairs for 2 minutes.
- 60 seconds rest.
- Single leg hop up two stairs with right leg then hop up two stairs with left leg. You can add to stair hops when you get used to two steps.
- 60 seconds rest.
- Run continuously up and down the flight of stairs for 2 minutes.
Great for power shots at goal with strong legs and helps with tackling and body strength actions.
- Similar to box jumps but done on a sing leg with a box 12-24 inches off the ground.
- Step up onto the platform then step back down to the floor.
- Try 12 reps for left leg and 12 reps for the right leg.
- You can also use a balance ball for an extra challenge.
Single Leg Squat
- Start by standing on your right foot. Lift your left leg out and hold it out straight in front of you. Your arms can be straight out in front for balance or by your sides.
- Keeping your left leg raised start to push your hips back as you lower into a squat position. Aim to get low enough that your hips are parallel to the ground.
- Push up keeping left leg raised.
- Five reps then switch legs.
- Tricky one for beginners but you can use a chair – sit in the chair and push up with leg raised before sitting back down.
There is a difference between a single leg squat and a pistol squat.
The pistol squat is getting your standing leg lower right onto your hamstrings keeping the other leg straight out in front of you, big challenge is to stand up without falling over.
Almost impossible for beginners!
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Jumping exercises are crucial for soccer players because they build explosive power. This type of power is what enables players to jump high to head balls, make tackles and win headers. One excellent exercise to build explosive power is the box jump. Stand on a box that is approximately 30% higher than your knee height. Make sure that the box is sturdy and has a safety mat underneath it. Jump onto the box and back down as many times as you can. Make sure you land softly on the box. This will help you when it comes to landing on the field. Another great jump exercise is the vertical jump. There are many variations of this exercise, but the basic principle remains the same: you jump up as high as you can and land softly. You can do this exercise either against a wall or without any assistance. The higher you jump, the higher the points you get.
To increase explosiveness and power in your legs, do the standing long jump. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, and then jump as far as you can. Make sure to jump in a straight line and land on your feet. These are just a few examples of jumping exercises that can help you improve your performance on the pitch.
Strength Training Exercises
Although soccer is a game that relies on speed and agility, having strong legs and core will help you be a better player. Strong and powerful legs are helpful in making quick changes in direction, while a strong core will help you make tackles and jump for headers. There are many different strength training exercises that you can do to increase your strength, but here are some of the most popular and effective ones:
- Trap Bar Deadlift: This is one of the best exercises to build strength in your legs. To do it, stand with your feet hip-width apart, and bend your knees slightly. Make sure your knees are over your toes and your back is straight. Now, put the barbell over your toes, and then lift it up until it reaches your knees. Make sure you keep your back straight and use your legs to lift the weight.
- Squat: Squats are some of the best exercises to build up your lower body strength. To perform squats correctly, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and make sure your feet are pointing straight ahead. Now, bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Make sure to keep your back straight and your knees in line with your toes.
- Bench Press: This is another great exercise to build up your upper body strength. To do a bench press correctly, lie down on a bench with your feet on the floor, and then lift a barbell above your chest until your arms are straight. Now, slowly lower the barbell back down to your chest and repeat.
- Plank: This is one of the most effective exercises for core strength. To do it, lie down on your stomach, and lift yourself up using your toes and forearms until only your toes are touching the ground. Make sure to keep your back straight and head up throughout the exercise.
Good for body strength they can help bring up low back strength or hamstring strength.
Get an old tyre and a rope and strap the tyre to a belt around your waist to add drag. This targets hamstrings, glutes, and hips by simply walking forward with a belt around your waist Walking forwards will develop the hips and glutes, walking backwards will help develop the quads and anterior hip muscles.
Walk forwards for 6o seconds and backwards for 60 seconds. Five reps. 60 second rest between reps.
Develops all of the muscles in the leg at once.
- Arms out in front like a boxer on guard.
- Both feet together then lunge forward with right foot.
- Keep lunging leg low almost to the floor so like a floating kneeling position.
- Bring left leg up so its level with front foot.
- Now lunge with left leg.
This is a great workout body-weight training drill. Great to do at home as you don't need much space and even at work at lunchtime for a quick workout to get your blood pumping.
With burpees, the focus is on a full-body calisthenics workout that aims to build muscle strength and endurance.
With a burpee you are working to build up strength in muscles in your legs, hips, buttocks, abdomen, arms, chest, and shoulders so a full body push.
How to do it
- You need to be in a squat, knees bent, straight back and feet shoulder-width distance.
- Hands on the floor in front of you inside your feet.
- Keeping your weight on your hands jump back into a push up position.
- You should now be in a flat back position on hands and toes. Drop down to do a push up.
- Jump your feet back up to squat position with hands inside feet.
- Stand up and raise your arms over your head.
- Jump and land back into a squat.
- 5 reps. 60 second breaks.
Any soccer player will benefit from the basic exercise of running – it's what they do during a match, they sprint for very short periods and run when recovering to goal or attacking the opposition. You can just do a basic run around the block or go on longer runs or you can try running like Fartlek training.
This is running but mixing speeds so you are using speedwork in a controlled way. Mix continuous running with short periods of fast running. Use time as a measurement, run one minute at full pace then three minutes at easy or moderate pace. Or run fast for half a mile and easy for the next mile.
As soccer players/coaches you will know quite a few cone drills – we've been doing them for years! Place cones around an area and sprint forwards, backwards, sideways. Try this drill but there are lots of drills you can set up – just use your imagination!
- Set up 4 cones in a square and you can perform a series of runs.
- Sprint forwards around the cones.
- Sprint forwards to the first cone then backwards to the next cone and repeat.
- Sprint to cone then sidestep to next cone.
- Sprint to first cone then cross diagonally to another cone.
Cupello recommends you sprint, sidestep, jump between and around cones. All help with agility, balance and speed.
You should always start slowly at home, working at your own pace to get up to speed.
Soccer Workouts at Cupello
High levels of fitness are vital for female soccer players. A strong physical profile helps with training schedules and also with match performance, it also cuts the risk of injury and adds to player well-being.
If you play soccer you will benefit from good lung capacity. Singers across the spectrum can teach soccer players about maintaining and developing their lung capacity
Playing soccer or running training drills on the beach is a big factor in core strength – don't waste your holiday by the beach get running and playing on shifting sands to help build up your core strength.
Working on fitness at home or the gym can be made much easier by working on cross-training and active recovery which is why so many soccer players do their own thing. Cristiano Ronaldo speaks very highly about using yoga so why not give it a try?
Foam rolling can be an effective tool to add to your warm-up or cool-down, before and after exercise. Read up on how foam rolling can help you as a coach and your players with their match day performance.