Off-season Strength and Conditioning Tips

The primary goal of an off-season program is to enhance overall conditioning and to work on those areas where you fall short. This information will provide general conditioning and performance drills which may be used by all ages and skill levels of soccer players. Learn how you may increase the difficultly or enhance the program for older or more advanced athletes.

Aerobic conditioning is crucial for soccer. You are doing extended periods of work during a game and need to be able to fight off fatigue. The best way to accomplish this is to have a good aerobic fitness base from which to work by getting your cardiovascular system conditioned.

Weeks 1-3:

Aerobic training should be done 3-4 days per week.

  • Begin with an aerobic regime, e.g., jogging, running or walking sessions, at a duration of at least 20 minutes, with sufficient intensity to make you breathe hard.
  • Try to work up to 30 minutes by week 3. Then begin to evaluate your training by taking a look at the duration and intensity of your aerobic sessions.
  • Work up to extended duration, adding 10-15 minutes to your running/jogging/walking sessions.

Weeks 4-6:

  • If you already had an aerobic regime prior to week 1, the goal is to do your “usual” distances but at a faster pace.
  • To accomplish this, slightly increase your jogging/ running/walking pace so that you are doing each mile in approximately 30-45 seconds less time.
  • Slightly increase your speed. Be careful because you will tend to go too fast too early in the first workout or two.
  • By the end of week 6, your goal is to be doing your usual distance in 1-2 minutes less time.

Weeks 7-12:

For those who started an aerobic regime at week 1:

  • For those who started an aerobic regime at week 1, your goal in these final 5 weeks is to increase your training intensity.
  • Gradually increase your running/jogging/walking speeds during your usual training distances.
  • If you’ve been doing 2 miles in 20 minutes, your new goal is to do those 2 miles in 18 minutes.
  • As the weeks progress, your goal should be to continue to gradually increase the speed (decrease the time required to cover the distance).

For those who have a good fitness base:

  • For those who have a good fitness base, it is now time to work on some tempo runs.
  • Tempo runs are shorter but somewhat higher intensity aerobic training sessions. For example, if you’ve been doing 3-4 miles at an 8 minute/ mile pace, a tempo run will have you do 2 miles at about a 7 minute/mile pace. This is upping the intensity quite a bit.
  • Any time you increase intensity this significantly, the duration MUST come down. There is no magic formula for this, but you will find a distance and speed that you can maintain for the entire session.
  • To do this workout, you should do a half-mile warm-up, then the tempo run distance (for soccer, 2 miles is plenty) and then do a half-mile warm-down.


  • For younger athletes, a 15-20 minute jogging session is a great place to start. The entire first segment should be used to get them accustomed to aerobic training.
  • For athletes with a higher level of fitness, you can certainly add duration or intensity. However, NEVER increase both at the same time.

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