Demands of the Game From Complete Conditioning for Soccer by Siegfried Schmid, Robert Alejo
Aerobic and anaerobic are two terms that circulate when conditioning is the topic. The intent of this book is to avoid becoming too scientific about these energy sources, but coaches and athletes should have a basic understanding of the terms and how they apply to soccer.
Aerobic capacity is the ability to use oxygen during exercise. Aerobic pathways start in the same way that anaerobic pathways do, but because the intensity of the exercise is low (producing little or no lactic acid), oxygen is supplied and fat is the main energy source. By definition, aerobic exercise is performed at 60 to 80 percent of maximum heart rate for 20 to 40 minutes of uninterrupted exercise. Jogging or cycling at a moderate pace is an example of aerobic exercise. During a match, the recovery periods between sprinting or continuous movement offer time for the player to use aerobic pathways to return oxygen to the system.
Of course, soccer is not always played at low intensity. Changes of speed and stop-and-go action are often explosive and aggressive. But a good aerobic base is the foundation that leads to speed, speed-endurance, and the ability to change speeds repeatedly. Although the aerobic energy system has low power output, developing a base early in a program
increases the work capacity of the body as a unit,
improves the working efficiency of the heart and lungs,
increases the body’s ability to use oxygen, and
prepares the body for higher intensity work without risk of injury, staleness, or rapid fatigue.
Anaerobic capacity is the ability to perform repetitive, intense activity with little or no rest. As you might guess this all occurs in the absence of oxygen. This type of activity produces elevated fatigue in a short time. Aerobic training is not intense enough to have an effect on this energy source, so soccer athletes need to train specifically to match the intensity of anaerobic work and the demand that it places on the body. Work-rest interval training at medium to high intensity is the exercise mode that most efficiently taxes this system. We will discuss this topic later in this chapter.
Although aerobic training is not the key to endurance performance, it must be integrated with an anaerobic component in a complete approach to conditioning. The athlete who successfully completes a program and achieves an acceptable level of fitness can realize several advantages:
Ability to change speed over long distances with less fatigue
Ability to maintain top speed for a longer period
Capacity to maintain skills (passing, shooting, receiving)
Ability to maintain concentration because of the absence of fatigue
Running is a way of life for the soccer athlete. Because a great deal of running occurs during the season, only a limited amount of running for aerobic training is necessary during this time. In-season, stationary bikes, steppers, rowing machines, and the like should be the equipment of choice for one or two workouts per week. Remember that on most days the athlete receives a certain amount of fitness training in practice sessions.
Off-season, runs of up to 30 minutes early in the training process can build a foundation for more intense activity to come. Other appropriate off-season activities are swimming, basketball, and recreational soccer.
Aerobic exercises should be between 20 and 40 minutes of uninterrupted movement at a heart rate between 60 and 80 percent of maximum heart rate. Keep in mind that the exercise time starts only when the heart rate reaches the appropriate range.
Aerobic workouts can be performed with several modes of exercise:
Level 3, 85 to 90 rpm for 5 minutes
Levels 5 to 7, 85 to 90 rpm for 20 to 40 minutes
Walk 0 percent grade, 3.0 to 4.0 mph for 5 minutes
Jog 0 percent grade, 5.5 to 7.5 mph for 20 to 30 minutes
Levels 4 to 6 for 5 minutes
Levels 8 to 12 for 20 to 40 minutes
Training to develop anaerobic capacity is more diverse and lends itself to creativity. The most effective way to increase anaerobic capacity (strength-endurance, speed-endurance, power-endurance) and at the same time affect the aerobic pathways is the work-rest nature of interval training.
Interval training offers several advantages over typical low-intensity endurance work:
-Higher intensity of exercise
-Ability to do a significantly greater amount of work by breaking up the total work into short bouts with full or shortened recovery periods
-Generation of greater energy for a longer period
-Ability to produce gamelike intensity
Sets, repetitions, distances or times, and rest intervals are the variables manipulated to vary the intensity and the result. To discover what works best might take some time. For instance, it is easy to find interval-training programs for 400-meter runners, but how do they apply to soccer athletes of various ages, sizes, and training levels? The best way to test a program is to implement it. Over time the best drills will emerge.
In soccer, running is of obvious importance and should make up the majority of the training. Professional players run miles during the course of a game. Stationary bicycles, steppers, rowing machines, and treadmills can easily be administered as interval-training apparatus. If the work time and rest time are measured, then the intensity (resistance or difficulty) can be adjusted to obtain the desired results.
The two forms of straight-ahead running we will use in the interval-training samples are stride intervals and sprint intervals. Stride technique involves using a longer-than-normal stride but running with 100 percent effort. Because of the exaggerated stride length, the speed will be 75 to 85 percent of normal sprint speed. Sprint technique is 100 percent effort at 100 percent speed. In other words, the athlete runs as hard and fast as possible.
Sample Interval-Training Programs
Stride interval training
8 strides 3 80 yards (73 meters) with :24 rest
8 strides 3 40 yards (37 meters) with :12 rest
8 strides 3 20 yards (18 meters) with :06 rest
Sprint interval training
6 sprints 3 30 yards (27 meters) with :27 rest
6 sprints 3 15 yards (14 meters) with :15 rest
10 sprints 3 5 yards (5 meters) with :07 rest
Combination stride-sprint interval training
6 strides 3 100 yards (91 meters) with :30 rest
6 strides 3 60 yards (55 meters) with :18 rest
8 sprints 3 10 yards (9 meters) with :06 rest
Lifecycle interval training
5 minutes at level 4 at 90 rpm
20 minutes, alternating between level 6 for :45 and
level 9 for :15 at 80 rpm