Getting in Shape for College Soccer
Getting in shape for college soccer is a year-round process and a daily commitment. After your high school or U-18 club team finishes its season, and following one to two weeks of rest, you’ll want to begin preparations. Offseason training is the key to the high level of fitness demanded of a college soccer player, and your college may run a voluntary fitness program over the summer to help you be game-fit at the season opener.
Start your fitness program in May or June to be ready for the start of your college soccer season in late August or September. Time your efforts to spend four weeks focused on general fitness and another four weeks on soccer-specific training, recommends University of North Carolina soccer strength coach Greg Gatz in “Complete Conditioning for Soccer.” These two months are your preparation phase. Spend two to three weeks in more intense training to prime your body for the season.
Work on your speed by performing the stationary leg drive, leaning on a wall and bringing one leg at a time up to your chest and then forcefully down. Work on running from a standing start, using a diagonal step and drop step as well as a forward step. Run up slightly inclined hills or tow a sled weighted with between 10 and 25 percent of your body weight as resistance, Gatz advises.
Perform the single-leg squat as part of your agility and balance work, as well as rope jumping and footwork drills through an agility ladder. Shuffle forward and backward through mini-hurdles for four to six sets.
Create a circuit involving two to three sets of body rows, standing medicine ball twists, squat jumps and mini-hurdle jumps to improve your strength and power. Add weight room work to perform barbell back squats, dumbbell lunges, step-ups, shoulder presses, and seated pulldowns and chest presses with the barbell and dumbbell. Look for two to four sets of eight to 12 reps with an intensity of 70 to 85 percent of your one-rep maximum, Gatz recommends.
Play small-sided soccer games and power through your strength circuit with minimal rest breaks to improve your cardiovascular conditioning. Add interval and shuttle runs to attain the needed conditioning for college play.
Attend a college-sponsored training camp aimed at players 12 to 18 years old. Look for programs designed to explicitly mimic preseason college training.
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