Nowadays, your fitness condition is just as critical as your technique and game awareness. A great example is in the recent Champions League Final where Kante’s man of the match performance was instrumental for Chelsea to win their 2nd Champions League Final. He is renowned as one of the fittest players in football, which constantly allows him to focus and perform for the whole match. Although it took Kante time to develop over the years, he is now considered the best defensive midfielder in the World of Football. On the other hand, I see some parents online training their kids like they were Rocky Balboa, and it’s not that necessary to go that far 😉.
With that said, I would recommend you sticking to the basics first. So, these are the key areas that you need to practice for improving your fitness condition:
Every skill we perform starts with synchronized and efficient body movements. Developing outstanding balance and coordination will keep our fitness condition at the highest possible level. Biomechanics and technique are intertwined and must work together for getting precise results. Without them, you can’t be faster, stronger, or have a distinct advantage over your competitors without getting injured.
Running technique and drills:
Learning to run correctly is a must for every player. During a match, 99% of the time, players are running on the field, so it’s a very high percentage of the game. Running long distances over 400 meters is unnecessary for a soccer player’s fitness as it teaches the muscles to work slow. In my experience of doing long-distance running as a professional player, I ended up losing the cartilage in my right knee. Therefore, I would recommend you run as fast as possible over short distances instead, with very minimal rest periods to make you fitter for soccer to develop Speed Endurance. To improve speed, you must run 100% every time. Running at your teammates’ speed is keeping you at a lower level of running if they are slower than you. In conclusion, constantly develop your biomechanics, technique, speed endurance, and fitness weekly, not just through a pre-season.
We are all born with great flexibility. However, with today’s lifestyle, we tend to sit everywhere and lose our flexibility because our lower back and hamstrings tend to tighten up, which stiffens our body. The problems occur from spending hours sitting on couches, school chairs, car seats, bus seats, and aeroplane seats. Flexibility is critical to your performance and career. It enables you to perform consistently for many years without getting injured. It also keeps your mind and muscles healthy. If you are super flexible, you will always be ready to train or play.
A lot of parents want to get their children too strong too early. Therefore, lifting weights at a young age can cause growth issues as bones and muscles need time to develop. With that said, to avoid injuries, it’s crucial to maintain an excellent level of flexibility before starting weight training. Strong muscles are essential as they protect the player from getting hurt in one on one battle or even collisions. It also helps to develop power for running, kicking and tackling.
This area of training is not taken seriously enough and overlooked. Repetition is the only way to develop our skill endurance, and this is how we acquire muscle memory. Under pressure situations, you will be less likely to execute your skills precisely unless you have built the skill endurance to a high level. It is also critically important that we develop one side of our body at a time, so our bodies stay balanced and that one side is not being overused. Otherwise, it will cause future injuries.
This skill is closely linked to your general fitness. If you are fit, you can think and play well under pressure, but if you’re not, you will make more errors, leading to losing a match. All the skills above are necessary, but the mental aspect of anything we do usually accounts for 80% of our success. Indeed, you can have all the skill, but if your opponents are tougher and intimidating and don’t give you time on the ball, you must use your mental toughness to get you through the game. When you start to feel tired, you must push through the pain, stay focused, and concentrate on the task. Mental fitness can affect you in many ways. You may be fit, but it may cause you to get upset, lose focus, get sent off for a bad tackle, and make more errors if you make a skill error. Every one of these skills must be developed equally over many years, which will make you more mentally tough, resilient and fight until the final whistle has been blown.
Above all, never give up, play hard, have fun and be your best!
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