Despite the amount of running that soccer players do, it is not necessarily a constant jog throughout a game. There is a lot of sprinting, jogging, and occasional walking as well. As such, it is not as effective to create a test that does not translate to an actual game. Some examples of this are tests that require running 3 miles under 18 minutes, or 2 miles under 12 minutes. Another one that I have heard of is 2 miles under 12 minutes with a 6 minute rest and an additional mile under 6 minutes. These types of fitness tests do not translate as well to the soccer game. Soccer games are filled with fast jogging and sprinting and periods of recovery. This is why these fitness tests listed below are effective in order to help conditioning so that the players are adequately fit for the full game if need be.
There are many fitness tests to determine if players will be ready for the season. There are many variations to these given depending on the age of the players as well as the level of play in which they will be participating.
Fitness Test 1: Shuttles/Suicides
The goal of this fitness test is to work on 30 seconds of sprinting as well as recovering in order to repeat the test.
- Set up cones in a single line 5 yards (3 feet) apart. In total there will be a cone at 5 yards, 10 yards, 15 yards, 20 yards, and 25 yards
- Time 30 seconds to sprint to the 1st cone (at 5 yards) and back, continue to sprint to the 10 yard cone and back, and continue this until the 15 yard, 20 yard, and 25 yard cones are reached. Doing this in 30 seconds or less is for elite level players. For those younger, work on 40-45 seconds or even longer.
- After the run is completed, for elite level players rest for 30 seconds and repeat, for lower level players or younger players take the amount of rest that it took to complete the run.
- For elite level players in collegiate and professional ranks, continue until 6 are complete, meaning, each run in 30 seconds or less with 30 seconds rest for 6 complete runs. For lower level or younger players, try to get at least 3 runs.
The goal of this test is to determine the level of fitness for players for long sprints and recovery.
This test will take place on a track. If one does not have access to a track of some sort, then I will explain another way that this test can be performed.
There will be 12 runs in total for this fitness test. Depending on the level of play and the age of the player, the time to complete each run and the time of rest in between runs should be planned accordingly. I will use times that elite collegiate players and professionals use as for many soccer players, the ultimate goal is to play professionally or at the college level.
- The first 3 runs will be 1 complete lap around the track, which is 400 meters. The time to do this is 1 minute and 10 seconds, or 70 seconds. After the 1st run, there is 90 seconds, or 1 minute 30 seconds of rest. Then the run is repeated a 2nd and 3rd time with 90 seconds rest in between each run.
- The next 3 runs are 300 meter runs, which is three quarters of the way around the track. These should be done in 54 seconds with 90 seconds rest in between. These will be done immediately after the 400 meter runs are completed with 90 seconds rest in between each run.
- After the 300 meter runs, come the 200 meter runs, which is a half lap around the track. The goal of these is 32 seconds to complete the run with 90 seconds rest in between each run.
- The final 3 runs of the fitness test are 3 100 meter sprints with the goal being 15 seconds for each run with the same 90 seconds rest in between each sprint.
The goal of this test is to determine if the players can recover sufficiently to complete the next run. As these times are fast, they are not a outright sprint but pretty close. The most difficult portion is the first 6 runs as with each set the distance is reduced yet the same rest time remains the same.
In soccer games, there will be long sprints and short sprints with sometimes minimal time for recovery. It is important that players are able to do the sprinting that is required as well as having the ability to recover to continue to do those sprints throughout the game, especially at high levels as the games are 90 minutes long.