6 Off-Season Fitness Workouts to Improve Game Speed Fitness

Here is a question I received over email today…

I’ve completed initial testing with a team of U14 girls. They are generally strongest in speed and weakest in fitness. In the fitness category, the median was 326 and average is 367…in the lower end of developing. I’d like to try to increase everyone to low 717 (21-2/1800 yds without the ball) by early March.

My suggestion is to incorporate the following workouts into your training program…

  1. Steady State Aerobic Capacity Runs – Great for base building fitness and you can alternate between 8 min on 2 minute off x 3 (Aerobic Power) and 20 min on 5 minute off x 2 (Aerobic Capacity). Your heart rate should be in the 70-85 range for the majority of the runs.
  2. Anaerobic Capacity Runs – 60 seconds on 30 seconds off x 3 then a 5 minute break and repeat this process 3 times for a total of 9 sprints (very strong pace) over a 22 minute workout. HR should be in the  90% range by the third run in each set.
  3. Anaerobic Power Ladders – 3x 30 seconds on 30 seconds off + 2x 45 seconds on 45 seconds off + 3 by 60 seconds on 60 seconds off + 2 x 45 seconds on 45 seconds off + 3 x 30 seconds on 30 seconds off. Heart rate will be in the 85-90% range most of this workout.
  4. Game Speed Fitness Interval Repeats – Identify your level on the Game Speed SoccerFIT Interval Test and then run at that level (time) until you can’t make it back in time, then rest for 90 seconds and repeat. Example: if your score is a 23-2 then run the down 10yds and back, down 10yds and back, down 25 yds and back pattern x 2 in 23 seconds each, then rest for 30 seconds and repeat. See if you can get to 10 intervals! HR may get to the 95% mark or in some cases above that. This workout may be tough to recover from, so it might be wise to take a day of rest after this one.
  5. Game Speed Fitness Test Backwards – Start at our record (Boys 16 and girls 17) and sprint the pattern (see #4) trying to make it back in in 16 seconds each. Then rest 30 seconds and repeat, but this time try to make it back in 17 seconds. The interval times will continue to increase by 1 second every level until you get to our starting point – 30 seconds. HR will be high in the beginning 90-95% range, but then drop steadily as you go through this workout, and it should be in the 80% range at the end.
  6. Repeat 25’s – Run a 25 yd sprint every 30 seconds for 5 minutes (10 total sprints) then rest 5 minutes and do it again. All sprints should be “race” pace or full speed. These are great to run with a partner. HR will be different with everyone on this workout, but with runs this short, it should not get above 85%.

Bonus Workout: Man U Fitness Test – Run the length of the soccer field in 25 seconds then jog back in 35 seconds 10 times, then every run after that subtract a second from your run down time and add it to your run back (recovery). Example: Down in 24 back in 36, Down in 23 Back in 37, Down in 22 Back in 38… until you get to Down in 15 Back in 45. See if you can make it through the whole progression!

The order of these is important, but every player has needs that are slightly different so we may switch them up from time to time. Try to hit more Aerobic Capacity Runs in the beginning of the off-season and work into more of the speed / agility based drills later in the off-season. Also, start each week with the most intense runs (Repeat 25’s in this case) and then do a lighter workout the next day (Aerobic Capacity), then mix in the next hardest (Game Speed FITness Interval Repeat’s) and so on…

These are just a few of the hundreds of programs we run at the SoccerFIT Academy, and I just threw them out as examples (not in any specific order). For a more detailed program feel free to contact me as we are in the process of putting our entire system (from game speed ball agility drills, strength, plyos, fitness, speed, agility and technical skill progressions) out in an interactive manual that will progress players from year to year and season to season. Or check out our eBooks.

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