Pro soccer players must train regularly to hone their skills, sharpen their minds and stay physically fit. Pro soccer players are part of a team, so they must practice with their teammates to develop an understanding and connection with them.
Do pro soccer players train every day?
Pro soccer players don’t train every day. Training is periodized in relation to their next fixture. Recovery is needed between games. The game has different demands and each demand must be prioritized based on its importance to the team.
Soccer is a demanding sport that requires players to be in peak physical condition. Soccer is not just about the technical and tactical side of the game. It also involves other factors that must be trained to be successful. Managers will work on players’ fitness, psychological readiness, and social interactions to build a strong team.
Opponents will have analyzed the team’s technical ability, tactical understanding, physical fitness, togetherness, and reactions to setbacks. They are ready to exploit a weakness in any of these areas.
Pro Soccer Players Training Regimen
Pro soccer players’ training is periodized. This means that they are always focused on the next match day and the number of days they have before this takes place. The match day (MD) is the hardest session of the week. The player’s training must prepare them physically to be at their best for match day (MD). The intensity of the session is therefore based on working towards/preparing for that match day (GD).
The term (GD) with a plus or a minus determines how far away the next game is. For example (MD) + 1 would mean that the team had a game one day ago. The term (MD) -3 means that the team has a game three days from now. This helps to plan the week so coaches and players can be clear on the types of activities within a session.
Pro soccer players are constantly monitored. Usually with GPS data. Sports vests are linked to computer software that will measure and track player workloads. These loads are essential as they will provide data to staff about how hard the players are working. The following data is often measured.
- Total Distance (TD): This is how many meters or kilometers the player has covered in a full game
- High Speed Running (HSR): This tells us how many meters a player spends running quickly out of their (TD)
- Sprints (SPR): This tells us how many meters of spriting a player has done in a game.
- Accelerations (ACC): The number of times a player speeded up in a game
- Deceleration (DCC): The number of times a player slowed down in a game
The data informs decision-making on team selection, rest days, and injury risk. The coach can use data from a matchday to mirror training and plan a working week at varying intensities. Benchmarks from this data can create standards of performance. Additional training can be prescribed to players who fail to hit their weekly benchmarks or session objectives. Overloaded players can receive rest days.
Phases of training
If a team has two games per week then they would have 5 days to prepare between fixtures. A typical week of a pro soccer player can be broken down into 3 districts stages:
- Recovery: Players are tired and fatigued from the game, usually known as (MD)+1 or (MD) +2. The players may have a day off or they may do active recovery such as jogging, stretching, and light positional work, they will eat well, and use activities such as ice baths to recover.
- Loading: This is usually done 3 days out from a game (GD) -3. These would be strength sessions in small spaces or endurance sessions in game-like areas. Both sessions are intense so a coach and conditioning team will decide what they feel the players need based on GPS data from the previous few days of training.
- Tapering: This is about managing player loads and working on short sessions which focus on speed, and reaction-based activities. Typically performed on (MD) -2 or (MD) -1. The players might work on team organization or reactive moments such as finishing on goal.
Physical Demands of Professional Soccer
Performance is greatly influenced by endurance. Additionally, even while sprints are crucial, they only account for a minor portion of each player’s overall distance traveled. For instance, sprints only account for 1–11% of the overall distance covered throughout a game, according to Stolen et al. (2005).
Elite football players cover an average of 12,000 meters per game, according to Broich et al. (2008).
No matter what their position, all players walk the greatest distance. Additionally, all players—aside from the forwards—cover the least amount of ground when sprinting. Football is therefore mostly an aerobic sport. Even Mayhew and Wenger (1985) claimed that 88% of football is an aerobic sport. However, football is an intermittent activity since it requires high-intensity efforts in addition to its high-speed running and sprints.
Players at the top level will typically perform 686-1084m of high-speed running and around160-300m of sprinting. According to Stolen et al. (2005), only 4% of sprints are 30 meters or longer. The sprints and high-intensity running will differ between playing positions.
(Baptista et al. 2018) suggested that the most common distance for high-intensity runs for central defenders, central midfielders, wide midfielders, and central forwards was 1–5 m, but for full-backs, it was 6–10 m.
Pro Soccer Players and Physical Conditioning
Players at the top level experience three stages within a season. Each stage will have a definitive aim. The off-season will help players to recover from the previous season. The off-season is a good time to increase strength, size, and power because the players will have time to focus on resistance training due to the decrease in soccer-related training.
Pre-season happens after the off-season and is a time when players need to get match ready and physically fit to meet the physical demands of the game described above. Endurance, high-speed running, and spriting will be high on the agenda. The players will be expected to meet physical benchmarks to ensure they are ready for the physicality of the game.
In season is the final stage. This is about the player maintaining the gains they have made for as long as possible. The players want to be fit and ready for selection at all times. Trying to improve a player’s fitness during the in-season is difficult because they are involved in a variety of technical, tactical, and physical drills. The players do not hit the volumes required to improve. They just maintain what they have built.
Importance of Training for Pro Soccer players
In terms of technical and tactical sessions, the players experience strength and endurance sessions on their loading days and then speed and reactions on their tapering days. These days are important because the pitch sizes and practice times differ. The differences in pitch size and timings ensure that players are challenged and receive enough exposure to situations that will maintain match readiness.
It ensures that the players hit the data metrics in terms of distance covered (Endurance), Duels against other players (Strength), High speed running and sprints (Speed), Accelerations, and decelerations (Reactions). The drills that coaches design should provide the players with enough opportunity to hit the physical demands whilst working on their technical and tactical skills.
At the professional level, nothing is left to chance so the design and organization of practices are vital to the success of the player and the team. Underloading players means that the demands of the game might be too much and this can lead to injury. Overloading the players can have the same effect, an increased chance of injury. The training volume and load need to be just right so the players are always ready.
Pro soccer players do not train every day. They work off a periodized plan that is constantly changing and being updated based on the team’s fixture list. The periodization aims to keep the players in that sweet spot where they are available to play, injury-free, and physically fit to meet the game demands.
To do this effectively the pitch sizes and spaces need to be adjusted to ensure total distances, high-speed running, sprints, and duels take place. This always depends on the player’s need to be loaded or tapered. Recovery sessions are just as important as these loading/tapering phases. Recovery usually takes place in the 1-2 days after a match day. Tired or underloaded players carry a greater risk of injury.
In a busy season, most teams will give their players one day a week off and then have a second day during the week when the session will be light (recovery). This leaves 5 days of loading and tapering between the match days. Most professional teams work off a 2 game week so the managers will only have 3 training days to plan, prepare, load, and taper the players.
Find below some links to related content on this site, each article will open in a new window:
- How to Motivate Soccer Players Before a Match?
- 8 Tips to become a Professional Soccer Player?
- How to Manage Substitutions in Soccer (4 Tips)
- Why Soccer Coaches are Called Mangers?
What kind of training do soccer players do?
Soccer players should engage in the following kinds of sessions as part of their aerobic training: Running constantly at a moderate intensity without stopping to rest is referred to as continuous training. Higher intensity during shorter bursts, followed by rest periods, is the goal of interval training.
How many hours do soccer players train a day?
Players train for up to 30 hours a week throughout the preseason and regular season. Depending on the season, training schedules can change a lot. This is what? The off-season, which consists of a recovery break and light training, can last only a few weeks each year.
How long should soccer players train?
Professional soccer teams typically train for 4 to 6 hours per day, 5 days per week. Aim to practice for roughly the same number of hours weekly if you wish to play professional football.