Tips on High School Soccer

When you play high school soccer, you are moving from a recreational kids sport to a more serious and competitive team experience. In addition to emphasizing your personal conditioning and nutrition, you’ll want to make sure you learn the rules of your league to avoid losing your eligibility.

Train using match-like workouts for better soccer conditioning

Train Using Different Workouts 

Soccer is not an aerobic activity — it’s mostly anaerobic. Instead of being able to job many miles at a moderate intensity, you’ll need to perform and recover from quick bursts of speed, quickness, agility and explosive power. You’ll also need stamina and endurance. Although you’ll need an aerobic base for soccer, you should focus your training mostly on anaerobic conditioning, or sprint training, during the season, rather than running or other aerobic workouts. Your weight training should focus on improving your muscular endurance, rather than muscle building.

Sprint Train for Cardio Conditioning 

Soccer primarily calls on your body’s anaerobic energy system, using glycogen to fuel your muscles. You run, jump and slide using your muscles’ high-twitch muscle fibers in quick bursts. Unfortunately, running at a steady pace for 30 minutes or longer trains your muscles’ slow-twitch fibers and burns mostly fat, not glycogen. You need an aerobic base for soccer, so do aerobic work in the off-season and sprint train during your pre-season and in season. Train hard for 30 seconds, then rest for 90 seconds before you do another exercise. Build your stamina until you can do two-minute sprints, then recover for two or three minutes. You can sprint on a track, exercise bike or treadmill. You can do this type of training on a soccer field or in a gym, using the same side-to-side, up-and-back and on-the-diagonal moves you use during a soccer game. Check with your coach or family doctor before you try sprint training, which can be too demanding if you’re not in top shape.

Circuit Train for Muscular Endurance

A good way to build your muscular endurance, or your ability to use your muscles throughout a soccer match, is with circuit training. Use approximately 30 percent to 50 percent of the maximum weight you can lift or move to do 10 to 12 repetitions of exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, calf raises and leg presses. Take a 30-second break after each set of reps. Keep the circuit going for 30 minutes or more. Your goal is not to build muscle, but to train it. Work on your jumping ability with box jumps, box squats, running across the field with giant steps and standing vertical jumps.

Eat Correctly

A high school cafeteria can be a soccer player’s worst enemy. The amount of saturated fat in burgers, fries, pizza and soda will make it harder for you to perform at your best, especially if you eat these foods every day, then practice a few hours later. Focus on carbohydrates during lunch, such as whole-grain breads, pasta, rice and potatoes. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein such as chicken or turkey breast or fish. Stay away from fried foods, butter, cheese and sour cream at lunch. Have a sports drink before, during and after your practices and games. Eat carbs before your workouts and eat lean protein after you do resistance or weight training to help your muscle repair. Water is important for muscle building and performance, so stay properly hydrated whenever you exercise.

Learn the Rules

You can lose your eligibility to play on your high school soccer team if you accept prizes, play in private tournaments, take money for coaching or violate other league rules you may not even know exist. Even if you will not be starting school until the fall, check with your soccer coach to make sure any activities you do during the summer do not make you ineligible to play for the team when school starts.

Additional Resources

Brian Mac: Football (Soccer)

Sport Fitness Advisor: Soccer Training Section

Soccer Fans Info: Soccer Conditioning