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Soccer players, more commonly known as вЂњfootballersвЂќ worldwide, require a high degree of overall fitness. They also need strong legs for kicking, running and jumping. Flexibility is a key requirement for goalkeepers as they run, dive and jump to stop the ball, as well as for field players who must contort their bodies for activities such as a scissors kick. Cardiovascular fitness, of course, is also a must. Footballers can perform a variety of exercises to achieve their goals.
Stretching warms up your muscles before a match or a workout, and increases your range of motion. For example, if you increase your hips' range of motion, you can draw your leg back farther before you kick, adding power to your shots. Many experts believe that static stretching -- a stretch that you hold -- may be counterproductive before a game or workout. Instead, many players perform dynamic stretches such as arm circles, lunges or leg kicks. Static stretching routines are often performed separately, or at the end of a workout. Field players may focus static stretching routines on their legs, stretching the calf, quadriceps, hamstring, groin and hip muscles, while keepers try to increase their flexibility from head to toe.
Soccer field sizes vary, with most soccer in the United States being played on American football fields, while international matches take place on fields as much as 130 yards long by 100 yards wide. Unlike U.S. football, soccer games feature continuous action and, therefore, plenty of running across the large area, so endurance is a key fitness goal. To develop endurance, soccer players do plenty of walking, jogging and distance running. Indoor endurance workouts may include stationary bike or treadmill sessions. High level players will perform intense endurance training in the off-season. If you're a weekend player, try to schedule some endurance training early in the week or in midweek.
With all the running that's involved in soccer, speed is obviously important, but short-range acceleration is often more vital. No matter how fast you are, for example, you can't out-run an entire 11-man team. But a quick burst of speed can help you beat a defender who's marking you, providing the space to make a pass or take a shot. Soccer players may use resistance training to help increase their speed and may also do classic track and field sprinters' drills, such as running uphill or running with a weighted jacket. In general, the best way to improve sprinting is to perform multiple short sprint repetitions.
Strength training can help improve your speed, reduce your risk of injury and increase your kicking power. Many soccer players perform vigorous off-season resistance training, doing exercises ranging from situps and pushups to bench presses, lat pulldowns, squats, leg and bicep curls, leg extensions and calf raises. Weight training during the season is typically limited to maintenance sessions about once each week, depending on the team's schedule, because it takes several days for your muscles to recover properly from resistance training. You may also substitute plyometric exercises such as vertical and horizontal jumps for weight training during the season.