Have you ever wondered why soccer players are so fit? In order to be match ready, soccer players follow strict fitness and nutrition regimens. Let’s take a look and what makes soccer players the fittest athletes on the planet.
Differences from Other Athletes
The body of a soccer player is usually far different from that of an NFL lineman or a hulky major-league home run hitter. Whereas the action in those sports is innately in short bursts, soccer players must be able to run, or at least be consistently mobile, for entire 45-minute periods. This is why many soccer players, if lined up side-by-side, have a very consistent look. This is different than in football where the physique of a linebacker differs greatly from that of a punter, or in baseball where a catcher or first baseman may have more bulk than a shortstop or starting pitcher.
So how active must soccer players be? Studies have tracked player movement throughout different sports and found the differences to be astounding. Here’s the average of how far players from different sports run per game:
- NFL wide receivers and cornerbacks: 1.25 miles within four 15-minute quarters
- NBA players: Under 3 miles throughout four 12-minute periods
- Tennis players: Between 3-5 miles during a five-set match (which could go as long as 5 hours)
- Soccer players: As much as 7 miles per 90-minute game
Think about that for a moment: That would be like running a 10k every single time you take the field! Therefore, while soccer is a popular competitive team sport, the physicality of their athletes is more comparable to that of solo competitors like cyclists, marathon runners, Ironman triathletes, or cross-country skiers.
A Day in the Life of a Soccer Player
Running that long per game means burning a lot of calories. In fact, the most active players will burn somewhere between 800 – 1,000 calories per match. Lean meats, protein, and plenty of water are key to staying fueled on the field and off.
Staying active for as long as soccer players do during matches, they also need to have great balance, speed, endurance and dexterity.
So how do you eat and train like a professional soccer player? This blog broke down the regimen of former Premier League star Phil Neville.
His routine includes:
- Yoga: 3-minute session to start the day
- Breakfast: Porridge (or oatmeal) with fruit, tea and orange juice
- On the way to training: Begin hydrating (drink 4-5 bottles of water throughout the day)
- More yoga: 30 minutes
- Stationary bike: Approximately 70-80 RPM for 10-15 minutes
- Knee activation: Small speed hurdles for 20 minutes
- Re-hydration: Protein drink
- Team exercises: Jogging, stretches and mobility exercises (5 minutes each)
- Team keep-ball exercises: By limiting space, this is how you can best hone ball control. Check out this link for specific keep-ball drills. (30 minutes)
- Team possession drills: One team defends a line on the field, while the other team attempts to move the ball past the line. (30 minutes)
- Small or full-sided games: These types of drills are based on how many players are involved – 3 on 3 constitutes a small-sided game, while 5 on 5 is considered full-sided. (15 minutes)
- 30 Minute Workout: Phil says he’ll do total body weight circuits early in the week, and upper body only circuits later in the week.
- Total body (Repeated 3 times)
- 16 push-ups
- 10 squats while wearing a weighted vest of approximately 40 lbs.
- 20 overhead dumbbell split squats (10 for each leg) with 20-35lb weight.
- 20 split squats (10 for each leg) with hip rotation using a medicine ball that weighs about 17.5lbs.
- 10 diagonal cable wood chops (5 for each side)
- 20 split squats with barbell
- Re-hydration: Protein drink to repair muscles after weightlifting
- Ice bath: 6 minutes
- Lunch: 2 bottles of water for the afternoon, along with chicken, vegetables and salad. Includes bread and potatoes as well for carbs.
- Nap: 90 minutes
- Snack: Protein bar or light snack along with normal activities
- Dinner: Chicken or fish, vegetables and potatoes for carbs and protein.
- Protein shake: 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Total body (Repeated 3 times)
More to Reach Your Goal
Do you have any additional tips to prepare for taking the soccer field? Leave them in the comments below so our Elite community can share and keep fit together!