The challenges of maintaining peak fitness in football

Maintaining fitness in football is tough enough before we even begin to consider how to improve fitness for football.

The demands of a busy fixture schedule can start to take their toll on the body and first choice footballers can find themselves having to give 100% week in, week out. On the flip-side, some players find themselves spending large periods of the season coming off from the bench, and this can come with its own set of physical and mental challenges.

🔺 Maintaining fitness in football is tough enough before we even begin to consider how to improve

To make matters worse, for many in the amateur or semi-pro game the challenges of maintaining peak physical performance for football come on top of a hectic work schedule. With a packed timetable of physical activity, the injuries soon follow.

Five tips to improve football fitness

If you’re a footballer or coach looking to build on your own fitness or your team’s overall football fitness, then fear not. We’ve put together these five top tips guaranteed to help make the second half of your season is as strong as the first.

1. Build stamina for football through endurance training

Train. Sleep. Recover. Repeat.

The road to building your stamina is not an easy one. It takes a great deal of hard work and commitment, but your overall level of stamina will have a huge impact on your level of football fitness.

🔺 Swimming can be an excellent solution for increasing aerobic capacity

Undertake exercises designed to increase your aerobic capacity such as swimming, running and cycling. Build these up over time as you look to increase your overall endurance. This won’t be easy over the winter months, so consider indoor exercise or take a look at our winter running tips so that you know you are reaching your full running potential – and safely.

2. Never underestimate the importance of recovery and rest

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy; and the same can be said about your fitness. All too often, footballers burn the candle at both ends and don’t acknowledge the importance of proper rest. Take it easy after matches, especially if it’s been a particularly gruelling game or a busy couple of weeks. A rest day doesn’t mean that you have to completely abstain from all physical work, just make sure that you only undertake very gentle exercise and movement as your muscles need time to recover.

🔺 Take it easy after matches and consider a sports massage from a dedicated therapist in the changing room or later on, in your own time

No doubt you will have the services of a physio or sports therapist at your club, but with so many players in a squad focused time can be limited to just a quick rub down before kick off.

Consider finding a Massage Therapist that you click with, and have regular Sports Massage treatments in order to aid with muscle recovery.

The benefits of these focused sessions can be seen in an incredibly short period of time.

3. Compile a diet plan and stick to it

We’ve all been there: January comes and with a whole host of New Year’s resolutions comes the promises to eat better. Let’s face it, nobody enjoys sticking to a strict, regimented diet, but it’s vital if you’re truly serious about improving your football fitness. 

🔺 Compile a diet plan with healthy and balanced foods that you enjoy and that you are confident you can stick to

From whole grains and oats to varied fruit, veg and high-protein foods such as chicken, your diet needs to be carefully planned out in advance. Quit grabbing convenience food on the way home from training sessions, and do a weekly online shop instead. Consider the times of day that you’ll be eating, and if rushing from one place to the next, take a packed lunch with you. Not only will you start to save money, you’ll also benefit from a significantly improved level of health and fitness standing you in good stead to find the back of the net on the weekend.

4. Build your flexibility and core strength

Both flexibility and core strength are vital for a whole host of sports, and whilst football has significantly less contact than, say, football or hockey, it’s still a sport that requires a degree of upper body strength. Whether you’re competing for the high ball or fending off the opposition strikers, core strength is important for your balance and power.

🔺 Undertake a range of warm up and warm down exercises designed to improve your flexibility and core strength

Consider introducing exercises into your fitness regime to build on this area. Crunches, dumbbell side bends and the plank are all simple but effective ways to develop core strength. Believe it or not, yoga can also be a massive help in this area as well.

Likewise, flexibility and agility are vitally important to be able to have that competitive edge over the opposition. Whether it’s a turn of speed or a change in direction, you can’t negate the importance of focusing on this area as well. With this in mind, it is best to engage with a balanced fitness regime to ensure good all round performance.

As you improve, move the goalposts a little (pardon the pun!) and stretch yourself. Increase your target number month by month and keep a record of your development. Not only does this mean that you will push yourself to the limit, it’s also a great way to stay mentally focused and combat any anxieties or concerns you may have.

5. Play football

It may sound like a funny one, but it’s true: exposure to football on a regular basis is important for you to build your fitness in the context of a match.

🔺 Exposure to football on a regular basis is important

As frustrating as it can sometimes feel to be loaned out to a club two steps down for what feels like the best part of a season, take it as an opportunity to play regular football and build your fitness. It beats loitering on the bench for weeks on end and you can find yourself coming back to your club fitter, stronger and better than ever before.

Find out more

Jenkins Soft Tissue Therapy offers a range of massage treatments, perfect to help as you build your football fitness. Contact Rhiannon today and find out more about how sports and remedial massage can help you.

Categories: Sports