Athlete Preparation

Energy Fitness

     While we will be doing our best to provide adequate workout sessions during the week, the following are some guidelines and principles that each player can use to create a workout routine that works for them.  This page illustrates four essential areas any energy fitness training plan should include, players should build their personal routines around these four aspects.

     All athletes should first develop their aerobic foundation, preferably during the off-season, and then move on to lactate threshold training, anaerobic training, and speed training.  As athletes progress from one level of training to the next, the training should become more intense but of shorter duration.


  • Aerobic Foundation

    • 70-84% of max Heart Rate,

    • Low-intensity, long-duration activities

    • Running, rowing, cycling, and swimming

  • Lactate Threshold Training

    • 85-89% of max Heart Rate

    • Increased intensity to train at upper limit of aerobic energy pathway

    • Raises the lactate threshold

  • Anaerobic Training

    • 90-94% of max Heart Rate

    • A push over the threshold to train the anaerobic energy pathway

    • short but intense bouts of exercise

  • Speed Training

    • 95-100% of max Heart Rate

    • Max intensity to move the body as rapidly as possible to increase sprint speed

    • Max intensity, short duration


  • Long, Slow Distance Training

    • Whether running, rowing, cycling, or swimming, this method is designed to develop the aerobic foundation. Intensity should be low, 70 to 85 percent of max HR, a pace at which athletes can hold a conversation while exercising.  Ideally, duration should be about 20-25 miles or 3-4 hours per week. This amount should fluctuate, becoming lower during the season and perhaps even higher during off-season.

  • Pace Training

    • This method is an increase in intensity from the long, slow distance training and should be done at the higher end of the max HR spectrum of that exercise.  Done at about 85 percent of max HR, this exercise is specifically intended to raise the lactate threshold (makes it so you can run faster longer). Pace training should consist of 20-30 minutes of continuous exercise

  • Interval Training

    • Shorter distances or times and higher-intensity exercise characterizes interval training.  Athletes can do 2-5 minutes of high intensity exercise, 85-89 percent of max HR, followed by an equal amount of time to recover trains the aerobic system and the lactate threshold.  30-90 seconds of exercise working at 90-95 percent of max HR followed by a recovery period 4 times longer than the exercise period trains the anaerobic system.

  • Fartlek Training

    • Perhaps open to more flexibility than the other exercises, fartlek training consists of continuous exercise with intervals of speed followed by slower exercise to recover.  Think of interval training, but with continuous movement. Add changes in direction to increase agility. A great example of this exercise is actually seen in the game of soccer.  You are jogging one second, sprinting the next, and then jogging again, perhaps followed by shuffling sideways, sprinting again, and backpedaling after. Be creative and have fun with this one.  Fartlek training is a great way for training the anaerobic energy pathways and developing speed.

  • Sprints

    • Sprints are usually for speed training and thus done at 95-100 percent of max HR.  They should be 10-15 seconds long and can cover distances between 25 and 100 yards.  Be sure to have recovery periods 6 times the sprint time. For further development in speed, speed training is essential and is covered under weight training

Season Guidelines

  • Offseason

    • Long, slow distance training, fartlek, and interval training

    • Frequency: 5-6 times per week

    • Intensity: 70% of max HR

  • Preseason

    • Emphasis on raising the lactate threshold and training the intermediate muscle fibers

    • Frequency: 6-7 times per week

    • Intensity: 85-95% of max HR

  • Early Season

    • Emphasis on sport-specific power and speed and anaerobic fitness

    • Frequency: 5-6 per week, including games

    • Intensity: 95-100% of max HR

  • Peak Season

    • Reduce training to gain stamina for competition

    • Frequency: Games replace fitness sessions

    • Intensity: 70-85% of max HR in training; 95-100% of max HR during games

Finding Your Training Target Heart Rate (TTHR) 

Step 1:  Take your resting heart rate (HR) before getting up in the morning.  You can do this by placing two fingers lightly along the throat just to the side of the windpipe or on the thumb side of the wrist between the bone and the tendon.  Count the number of beats in 15 seconds and then multiply that by 4 to calculate your beats per minute.

Step 2:  Estimate your maximum HR by subtracting your age from 220

Step 3:  Select the percent training intensity as measured by percent of maximum HR at which method you will be using. (i.e. 70%, 90%)

Step 4:  Calculate the training target HR (TTHR) as follows:

220 – (age in years) = (max HR)

(max HR) – (resting HR) = (exercise HR)

(exercise HR) x (% of training intensity in decimal form) + (resting HR) = (TTHR)

Step 5:  Aim to hit your TTHR when training.  You should have a different one for each conditioning method you use.

Weight Training

     Soccer is a very diverse sport and as such requires diverse training.  A common question when it comes to weight lifting is should soccer players lift for endurance, strength, or power.  The answer is all three. Soccer players need to develop muscle with endurance to carry them through 90 minutes of constant motion, strength for when battling over the ball, and power to kick and sprint at high speeds.  After working on these three aspects, consider supplementing your weightlifting with one or both of the other resistance training methods found at the end of this section.


  • Strength Training

    • Develop strength as a foundation for competitive soccer

    • Start with this if you have done little to no weight lifting before

    • Lift 85% of 1RM*

    • Less than 6 repetitions

    • 2-6 sets with 2-5 min. rest intervals

  • Power Training

    • Develop intermediate-term muscular power

    • Use this objective to add speed to your strength

    • Lift 75-85% of 1RM*

    • 3-5 repetitions

    • 3-5 sets with 2-5 min. rest intervals

  • Endurance Training

    • Develop long-term muscular endurance

    • Use this objective to add to your ability to use your muscles for longer periods of time

    • Lift 60% of 1RM*

    • More than 12 repetitions

    • 2-3 sets with 1 min. rest intervals

*A relatively safe and easy method to determine your 1RM, or max, can be found below

Methods (The "Essential Eight")

     While you are welcome to choose your own exercises, here is a list of exercises that correspond to the eight major muscle groups of the body that are essential to success in most sports.  If you are new to weightlifting, these exercises are a great place to start. Make sure that whatever exercises you decide to do, you research and practice proper technique. Never let yourself be pressured into performing a lift that you are not confident about doing or into lifting more weight than you are capable lifting.

Finding Your Max or 1RM

      Out of any lifting exercise you do, the amount that you will want to lift is based off of your one repetition maximum or 1RM.  Use the following instructions to estimate your 1RM in a safe manner.

Step 1:  Determine which exercises you want to find your max for, consider starting with the “Essential Eight”.  If you are new to these exercises, spend a few practice sessions over a week’s time in which you focus on proper technique and safety rather than weight or repetitions.   

Step 2:  Based off of the week of practice and your experience, estimate the amount of resistance you can lift 10 times before muscle failure for each exercise.  

Step 3:  In each exercise, lift your determined weight between 6 and 15 reps to muscle failure.  If you realize in the first or second rep that you’ve selected too much or too little resistance, stop immediately and adjust your weight.  If you end up needing to retest, allow 15 minutes between tests of the same muscle group.

Step 4:  Once you know the load with which you can complete between 6 and 15 reps for each exercise use the table below to determine your estimated 1RM.

Step 5: To get your estimated 1RM, find the weight you lifted in the far-left column of the table.  Then locate the number of repetitions you lifted in the top row above the table. Find where the row and column of weight and repetitions meet.  This is your estimated 1RM

Step 6: Use your estimated 1RM when determining how much weight to lift.


*Remember, your 1RM will be different for each exercise you do.  This means you need to do this process with each lift you plan on doing.  I recommend doing a test day where you find your 1 RM of all the exercises you will be doing for the next few weeks.

Supplemental Resistance Training

  • Speed Training

    • Resistance sprints

      • Involves adding weights or resistance to yourself while attempting to move as fast as possible.  

      • Examples include running up hill, climbing stadium stairs, or pulling a sled

      • Follow ten percent rule: train with no more than a 10% increase in your normal time.

    • Overspeed training

      • Emphasizes training the neuromuscular system to work at a faster pace by increasing stride rate.  

      • Methods include running downhill and on a high-speed treadmill

      • Again, follow the ten percent rule with no more than a 10% decrease in your normal time

    • Improve running form

      • Research and practice proper running technique to develop more efficient mechanics in running stride and arm movements.

  • Plyometrics

    • Lower body plyometric exercises involve bounding, hopping, and jumping and those for the upper body involve catching and throwing medicine balls.

    • Although they are great for developing power, these exercises can be dangerous for those without a solid foundation of strength and have a higher risk of injury if athletes perform them incorrectly or too frequently.

Flexibility Training

     Stretching may seem boring at first, but over time you will start to enjoy the feeling. When you see improvements in your game you will be motivated to continue stretching regularly. You should feel a slight strain when you stretch. You are stretching too far for your current flexibility if you feel pain.  Repeat each exercise for 30 to 60 seconds for 3 to 6 sets. Rest for 10 seconds between each set.


  • Building quad flexibility will increase your power and speed. It will prevent a quad tear or strain (horrible injury). Use this stretch: Stand up and curl one of your legs towards your butt. Grab your foot (on the curled leg) and pull towards your butt. Repeat with the other leg.


  • Tight hips will limit your effectiveness as a player. You will be slower and limited in movements.  Tight hips will force you to overcompensate with other muscles (causing injuries) so perform this stretch regularly to loosen them up:  Lie on your back and lift one leg towards your chest. Cross your opposite leg (your foot should touch a little above the knee of your non-crossed leg).  Pull your non crossed leg towards your chest. You will feel a stretch in your hip. Reverse and repeat.


  • A pulled or strained groin is a frustrating injury. It can take a while to fully recover, and it’s often strained or pulled again and again.  Use this stretch to prevent this annoying injury and improve your movement on the pitch:  Sit down and pull your legs close to your body. Your feet should touch. Lean forward and push down on your knees with your elbows.


  • Tight calves will decrease speed and make jogging with proper technique difficult.  Tight calves will get pulled, strained, or torn. Avoid injury by performing this stretch:  Stand up and raise your foot so your heel is touching the ground. Lean down and try to touch your foot. Try to touch the ground once you can touch your foot. Repeat.


  • Your hamstring helps you sprint and kick a ball. Developing hamstring flexibility will improve your technique and speed.  Pulling or straining a hamstring is common, painful, and will put you out for weeks or months – depending on the severity of the injury. Avoid injury and boost performance with this stretch:  Sit down. Cross one leg and straighten the other. Try to touch your straight leg’s foot. Reach for the space beyond your foot once you can tough it. Repeat on the other leg.

IT Band

  • The IT band is rarely stretched. This is unfortunate, considering it’s important for moving around the soccer field effectively.  A tight IT band can result in IT band tendinitis (a painful injury that takes months to heal) and other injuries due to overcompensation of other muscles. Try this stretch to loosen your IT band:  Stand facing a wall. Put both hands on the wall and cross your legs. One leg should be ahead of the other.  Move your hips in the opposite direction of your leading leg. If your right leg is leading, move your hips left and vice versa. You will feel a good stretch. Switch leading legs and repeat.

Nutrition Guide:

     This is far from an exhaustive list for your nutrition needs, but hopefully its a start to better fueling your game.  For more information I would recommend checking out the Sport Science Institute nutrition resources.


  • A balanced breakfast that combines fiber (whole grains) and protein for sustainable energy is key. Select meals that are carbohydrate-rich, moderate in protein, and low in fat

  • Some ideas include eggs, whole grain toast with peanut butter, cereal and milk, fruit or 100% fruit juice, whole grain waffles topped with fruit, or yogurt


  • Focus on lean meats to help you recover from any morning training and complex carbohydrates to replenish your body for afternoon practices

  • Options include: pasta with chicken and tomato sauce, steamed rice with vegetables and low-fat milk, grilled chicken sandwich with a fruit and yogurt smoothie, instant oatmeal with dried fruit and low-fat milk, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chicken noodle soup with crackers, chicken or turkey wrap, or sliced turkey on a bagel

During Training or Competition

  • Nutrition during training: granola or sports bars, sports drink, bananas, dried fruit, and bread with jam or jelly

  • Drink water when consuming carbohydrates during practice to avoid stomach problems


  • Plan to have a meal of carbohydrate-rich foods, high-quality protein, and ample fluids within one hour after training

  • A recovery snack, eaten within 30 minutes, is critical if you won’t be eating a meal within one hour after training. This is especially important on days with multiple trainings or competitions

  • Recovery nutrition: Low-fat chocolate milk, trail mix, cereal and milk, yogurt parfaits and fruit smoothies


  • Generally speaking you need between a half and a full ounce of water per pound of body weight per day

  • Always start your morning by drinking an eight- to 12-ounce glass of water. On training and game days, you need to hydrate before, during, and after exercise on the following schedule:

    • Two hours before exercise, drink 16- to 24-ounces of water

    • 20 to 30 minutes before exercise, drink another 8 ounces

    • During exercise, drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes as well as 8 ounces of sports drinks every 15-30 minutes

    • After exercise, drink 8 ounces and continue to rehydrate gradually over the next 30 minutes, about 24-48 ounces total

Setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals:

S- Be Specific.  Put a real and exact figure on you goal, how many, how much, how often.

M- Make it Meaningful.  A goal is personal and the stronger you feel about your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it.

A- Focus on the Achievable. Short-term goals should be something you can achieve within a year’s time.  They should help build your momentum for long-term goals.

R- Keep it Relevant. Your goals should be in line with and in harmony with what you want out of life; they should line up with your core values.

T- Make them Time-bound.  When goals are time-bound, they are measurable.  You should be able to break them down and know what you need to do each month, week, and day to get there.    

E- Ensure your goals are Evaluated. Goals can easily be ignored if they aren’t evaluated every single day. Create a system that will help you habitually evaluate your progress.  

R- Don’t forget to Revise. After considering your progress, make adjustments accordingly.  Keep what works, throw out what doesn’t.


*See these great TED Talk videos for more inspiration regarding goals and visualizing success.

- Focus on your behavior

- Secrets of elite athletes