Train Hard, Play Hard: Getting Ready For An International Soccer Tour
Our soccer tours provide an exciting opportunity for players to travel and visit new destinations while playing the beautiful game. We partner with some of the biggest teams in world soccer including Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus, so it’s essential to be physically prepared so you can perform your best on the pitch. From drills to diets this blog will help prepare your team for a soccer tour of a lifetime.
A key part of soccer is the fitness needed to make the lung busting run at the end of a game, to make a last-ditch tackle, or score the last-minute winner. Soccer is an endurance sport with players required to cover a lot of ground, so cardiovascular fitness is very important. General training will always improve this but it’s also great to introduce aspects such as morning runs, interval training and track running into training programs. You can make this into a competitive and fun aspect of training easily, rather than tedious laps of a field. Tough activities like the bleep test can be made exciting with prizes for winners and fun forfeits like the ice bucket challenge. You could also encourage players to do their own fitness outside of practice if they are not overexerting themselves.
The technical side of soccer is critical to performing well and speed and agility are key components to this. Your body needs to be used to, and withstand, lots of quick movements and change of direction. Working on these smaller aspects at the start of training helps improve your technical ability and acts as a dynamic warm up for the tougher part of your session. Here are some examples of agility and speed drills to give you the edge over your opponents:
- Ladder Drills – Side shuffles, fast feet, and high knees in and out of ladders improves footwork dramatically.
- Cone drills – Setting up cones in a zig-zag pattern and dribbling through helps replicate quick in game turns.
- Plyometric exercises – These are exercises that develop the explosive power needed for all players. Jumping jacks, squat jumps and box jumps all improve this.
- Sprints and shuttle run – Set up cones around 20 meters apart and sprint back and forth to build up endurance as well as sprint speed. You can also make the distance longer and take times for self-improvement.
- Mirror drills – Partner with a teammate and mirror their movements as quickly as possible, with or without a ball.
With these drills it is critical to keep the proper form and technique as it helps avoid injuries and makes these exercises extremely beneficial.
Along with agility and speed, having body and core strength is helpful on the field. Gym sessions being incorporated into weekly training schedules can help improve strength, speed and power which are key to winning battles on the field. Resistance training such as weightlifting and bodyweight exercises develop this, with the level of this varying by age. Older players may wish to develop leg muscles to create explosiveness, through squats or deadlifts. Bench-press, ab circuits, medicine ball throws and pull ups are great for building up the core and shoulder strength that makes it difficult to be tackled.
On the training pitch drills, mini games and tactical sessions help prepare you best for matches on your tour. Not only do they give you the practice needed, they also help create bonds with your teammates and form a great squad. Passing, shooting, and dribbling drills will improve technique and individuals can work on their own weaknesses, whether that’s weak foot ability or communication. It’s important to include mini games in sessions to keep training fun. Small-sided games help increase game understanding and awareness as well as decision making. Mini tournaments can add an element of heathy competition to end training, and rules such as two touch will help player’s quality.
Here is an example of what a practice session could look like:
- 5-minute jog round the pitch to get players ready for the session.
- Static stretches – focus on getting muscles such as hamstrings, quads and groins stretched and warm.
- Dynamic stretches – get the blood flowing with high knees, heel flicks, leg swings and lateral lunges.
Drills can be dependent on numbers and ability. You may wish to split the group to work on specific techniques or routines, such as corner defending or shooting drills. Some examples may include:
- Cone drills – 5 minutes of dribbling through cones in zig zag patterns, changing directions as quickly as possible to improve ball control and agility.
- Shooting drill – Have a player stand facing the goal, around the edge of the box. Another player then bounces or rolls the ball to the left, right, over or under them at varying degrees of pace. This simulates an in-game shot, and the player has to try and score.
- Possession – split the group into 4 teams to create 2 zones without goals. Have teams aim to keep the ball with quick short passes and movements. Every time a team gets to 10 successful passes, they receive a point.
3v3 – Each team must complete 5 passes before a goal can be scored.
4v4 – Players can only take two touches before they have to pass the ball. This helps improve decision making.
5v5 – Goals can only be scored with a player’s weaker foot.
Off the pitch, there is also preparation to be done. Having a well-balanced diet that gives you the energy required for training and matches is critical. Your diet should include lots of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates provide the energy, and slow-release carbs which can be found in food such as brown rice, sweet potatoes or wholegrain cereal, are best for sports performance. Protein is excellent for muscle repair and growth, lean meats, fish and dairy products provide a high amount of protein. Healthy fats, such as nuts and avocado, also assist in providing sustained energy. Eating in the right way in the build up to a tour will not only boost your general health but put you in the best position to give 100% in every training session and match.
One final aspect to consider before departing on your tour is the importance of team building. Soccer is a team sport and success requires everyone to work together. It’s essential to build a sense of unity within your team, even if every player has their own role on the pitch. Team building exercises can help develop communication skills, trust, and respect between each other. They can also help identify strengths and weaknesses within you team which can be addressed on and off the pitch. Exercises such as paintballing or bowling or team meals can be lots of fun and give you the chance to bond with teammates off the pitch.
Make sure to have all the right equipment ready and prepared in advance, get lots of sleep and you’ll be sure to make some amazing memories on one of our incredible tours. We hope these tips help you get ready for your tour, so that success comes on the pitch and fun off it!