How Often Do Soccer Players Train? Pain and Gain

soccer players training 2

Have you ever wondered what it takes to train like a professional soccer player? Could you meet the daily, weekly, and yearly demands of a pro soccer player? I have often wondered about this, especially upon hearing about multi-million dollar transfers involving high profile players.

After 90 minutes you start to feel the strain and aches you feel the day after, but how do they do it? Taking into account what a pro’s schedule entails and how often soccer players actually train. Does their workload really reflect the tens of millions that they earn every year? I decided to take a look.

How often do professional soccer players train?

During the pre-season and regular season, players train up to 30 hours per week. Training schedules can vary significantly depending on the time of year. The off-season can be only 2-3 weeks per year and this is a recovery period with light training. The calendar year is split into 3 seasons for a pro soccer player:

  • Pre-Season
  • Regular Season
  • Off-Season

Running

Soccer boots training on agility speed ladder in soccer training.

When comparing running statistics in different sports, Runnersworld reported that soccer players cover a whopping 7 miles in every game. This involves a combination of frequent small movements, short and long sprints, and jogging over a 90-minute game.

Throw in tackles, shooting and jumping, amongst other dynamic movements, and we can begin to see how physically exhausting the sport can be. The ability to do this regularly (sometimes twice or three times per week), over a full season requires a supreme fitness level. Let’s look at how often soccer players train and what exactly they do to stay fit, maintain and improve their skill level, and prepare for games.

Training Schedule

*For the purpose of this article we will look at the yearly schedule followed by the top European leagues.

Pre-Season Training

Pre-season training is intense, frequent, and requires extra recovery sessions. It starts out light but builds towards heavy workloads involving tonnes of running. The purpose of this is to reach maximum fitness levels whilst keeping the risk of injury as low as possible.

Players can train up to 3 times per day. Towards the end of pre-season, the focus of the sessions is more soccer oriented. Training must incorporate skill development, as well as laying the foundations for what tactical approach will be deployed during the season.

Here is a look at one of Liverpool’s pre-season training sessions during their USA tour last summer. Note the different aspects focused on during the session and the varying intensity levels.

Training Timetable

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
MeetingMeetingMeetingMeetingMeetingGameRecovery
Warm-UpWarm-UpTeam TrainingWarm-UpWarm-UpGameRecovery
Specialized Training (e.g. speed)Specialized TrainingRecovery SessionSpecialized TrainingTeam TrainingGameRecovery
Gym SessionsGym SessionsGym SessionGameRecovery
LunchLunchLunchLunchLunchGameRecovery
Team TrainingTeam TrainingTeam TrainingGameRecovery
Extra TrainingGameRecovery

Here’s a simplified example of a pre-season weekly plan, based on an article from Football Medicine.

Regular-Season Training

Soccer players stood on a training field with balls and cones on the ground.

A typical day does not necessarily exist in the life of a pro soccer player. Training days vary depending on the time of year or when the next game will be played. When there’s no midweek game, a team will generally spend Monday to Friday preparing for their match on Saturday or Sunday.

Sessions earlier in the week are focused on recovery from the previous game. Midweek training is more intense with sessions focusing on strength, speed, and skill work. Intense training eases up and takes a tactical turn as game day nears.

Players usually train in the morning and after lunch. Morning sessions generally involve warm-ups and muscle activation, speed and agility work, team training, and gym work.

This is followed by much-needed refueling (lunch!). Although a soccer player’s day is broken up into several stages, there are 2 main training sessions per day – morning and afternoon. Including game days, players will normally train 5 to 6 days per week. Teams rarely train heavily on travel days.

Off-Season Training

Off-season training comes down to the individual. It’s become commonplace for players to hire a personal trainer and even a chef or nutrition expert to travel with them on vacation. The majority of pros make a concerted effort to stay fit and healthy, even in their downtime.

This is a far cry from the days of old when players would get notoriously out of shape, reportedly overindulging in food and alcohol! The off-season is now looked at as a time for players to boost their fitness levels, increase strength, and prepare for the season ahead.

Players’ Instagram accounts are filled with snippets of their off-season workouts. Although many of these sessions take place in exotic locations, the dedication and commitment of most pro players cannot be questioned!

Sergio Ramos with an unconventional off-season workout;

Rest and Recovery After Training

Soccer injury - player on the field holding his knee

Something that’s constantly overlooked in the modern game is the emphasis placed on rest and recovery. Failure to implement the correct recovery techniques between sessions and games can increase the risk of injury and cause performance dips.

We are seeing players perform at peak levels much later into their careers. Cristiano Ronaldo, at 34 years of age, has yet to start his decline. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is continuing to dominate in the MLS deep into his 30s. The latest sports science plays a contributing factor to this trend. Its influence on the game is at an all-time high.

Players at every level are accustomed to strict nutrition plans, ice baths, and physical therapy sessions to aid their recovery and maximize performance. Sleep is a topic of sports science that has created waves across all sports recently, particularly in soccer.

Sleep

sleeping player

In some instances, sleep is now regarded as being equally as important to a player’s recovery as nutrition and physio treatments. Not only does sleep have an effect on recovery, but it also has a big impact on mental and physical performance.

Lebron James is said to spend $1.5 million dollars per year on his training, nutrition and recovery routine. He places a huge emphasis on his rest and famously stated that sleep is “…the best recovery that you can possibly get.”. James claims to get up to 10 hours per night in order to be at his best on the court.

Andre Iguodala made huge changes to his sleeping habits in 2013 upon joining the Golden State Warriors. His stat lines showed improvements as a result, and he has since gone on to pick up 3 rings and a Finals MVP trophy. Pro soccer players in the modern era spend a lot of their time “sleeping their way to the top”, as reported by the BBC.

Manchester City is even said to have 32 en-suite bedrooms at their headquarters for post-training snoozes. At the famous ‘Valdebebas’, Real Madrid players take a 2-hour siesta between morning and afternoon sessions. As crazy as that sounds, it’s standard for pro teams to have resting facilities and individually adapted sleeping programs for players.

Fractions of percentages are what make an impact at the highest level: teams and players are always striving to gain an extra advantage wherever possible. Although sleep and recovery are not strictly regarded as training, they take up a significant portion of a pro player’s time and energy.

How to Train Like a Pro

Soccer players in a circle

A player may only train for a few hours per day but the reality is, that to perform consistently at the highest level, they must be diligent off the field as well as on it. Whether they’re tapering off and resting post-training or fueling their bodies to perform and recover.

A pro soccer player is rarely completely detached from the game. Training is just one aspect of this demanding lifestyle. It’s not simply hours spent on the training ground that makes a player succeed, it’s what one does with every waking (and sleeping) hour that’s available to them that truly counts.

So, how often do soccer players train? On the books, maybe 30 hours per week. However, if we take everything into consideration, you could argue that they never really stop. For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

How many hours a day should I practice soccer? Depending on your fitness level you should train for 2 to 3 hours. Reduce this if you have injuries or are starting out.

Does the track help with soccer? The track will build up the leg muscles needed for soccer, although it is ideal to do short sprints with stopping and starting.

Does soccer make you skinny? Splaying soccer will reduce the fat in all areas of your body. It is better to be slim for quick acceleration with core muscles giving you strength.

Read More…

Are Soccer Players Strong (What is Needed)

strong soccer player e1571233176563

As a soccer player do you need to be strong? What are the physical attributes that are needed to compete with your best ability? Let’s take a look at what makes the best soccer players.

Are soccer players strong? Soccer players are strong in all aspects of the physique. You need to be strong in the lower and upper body to compete at the highest level. Both tall and small players can compete. The key aspects for a soccer player are strength, stamina, speed, skills and, agility.

There are many ways that one can determine strength. Commonly how much can you bench press? There are a number of factors that go towards strength.

Strong players usually play in positions where they can be effective. Center back are generally tall and strong to be able to deal with strong attackers. The height of center backs at their shortest is 6 feet tall, whereas attackers can be short or tall depending on their attributes.

Center backs are required to deal with crosses coming in from the wing and cannot be beaten easily in the air. If a player is too bulky with muscles, they won’t have the flexibility that is required to turn quickly. A combination of muscles throughout the body is required to compete at the highest level.

Strongest Soccer Players

One of the strongest soccer players is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, let’s take a look at his stats;

  • Height in Feet: 6′ 5
  • Weight in Pounds: 209 pounds
  • Chest Size: 39 inches
  • Black-belt in taekwondo

Zlatan is one tough cookie! He has the physical attributes and more importantly to be strong you need to be aggressive.

Take a look at the video to see some of the strongest players in the world of soccer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v543tiPC49Q
Some of the strongest soccer players

Of course, the covering image is Photoshopped. The video shows that there are some very strong players in the world of soccer. But does strength work for all types of players?

One of my favorite players was Roy Keane, who played for Manchester United. He is only 5′ 10″ tall, but he makes up for it in his aggression and determination. The rules have changed a bit since he played, now he would not stay on the field for long! Take a look at how tough he was (and naughty!).

It does not take for a football player to be tall, to be strong. There are many aspects to the game. Roy Keane was strong mentally to be able to stand up against other players that were 6′ 5″ tall.

The Tallest Soccer Players

Strong people are associated with their body build and height. Here in this chart, there are the tallest players from the World Cup in Russia 2018;

Top ten tallest soccer teams: Statista

The average height of a man in the United States is 175 cm tall. The figures above are of the top ten and now let’s look at the shortest teams on average;

Bottom six shortest teams: Statista

The bottom five teams in the graph are above the height of the average American. These figures suggest that soccer players are most likely to be above average height.

Being short

One of the greatest players that are playing today and that has ever played is Linoel Messi. He stands at 170 cm tall. He is strong enough to able to battle against the tallest players. So strong players can be small.

Running

Soccer players cover a lot of ground over 90 minutes. The average distance a player covers is 10km 6.2 miles. To cover this distance, it is easier to do it on a long-distance. Soccer players have to do a lot an intense sprinting. Stopping and starting, which take the energy out of the legs.

For any of the heavier players, their distance covered will be a lot shorter than most. The surface that the player runs on also has an effect. In the MLS the field is mostly artificial turf, which is easier to run on than grass which is used in Europe. When the soil is soaked from the rain, it takes more toil on the legs.

Upper Body Strength

Soccer players are often in 50-50 dual with another player. If a player does not have the upper body strength they will lose possession. All professional players go to the gym to work-out their upper body.

The core muscles of a person can be the most effective. Those players that have a strong back will often win duals and be flexible when needed to turn,

Lower Body Strength

The legs are key parts of player physic. There is a lot of running to be done on the field and then there is the strength needed to be able to hit the ball with power.

Short sprints are often required for a player. These sprints build up the quad muscles in the legs.

Take a look at the workouts of the professional players in the gym.

Professional soccer players in the gym

Combination of Strength and Agility

Overall a soccer player needs to be strong to be able to compete. The variety of demands needed on the soccer field varies a great deal. Soccer players need to be strong in all aspects of strength. If a boxer were to take to the field, they would be outdone by the players. Likewise, if a soccer player were to take to the ring, they would see the canvas.

Soccer players are not the strongest in terms of ‘pound per pound’. But it depends on how it is measured. A soccer player needs to be fit and strong in all aspects of the game.

The beauty of soccer is that you don’t need to be 200 pounds and 6′ 5″ tall to compete. Some of the greatest players have been below the average height. It’s a game that is suited to all physique.

Do soccer players lift weight every day?

Normally a professional soccer player will lift weights 3 times per week. Recovery is needed for the day in between so they don’t suffer burnout in the long season.

Does playing soccer give you strong abs?

Soccer players take part in aerobic exercises which help with their abs along with weight training. The main training is cardiovascular, which will build the core abs.

How much do soccer players lift?

Some soccer players can lift up to 400 pounds in a deadlift weight. But muscle bulk is difficult to carry on the field.

Read More…