Soccer Skills Development: Stop Training Cardio

You know how when you’re at the gym you’ll see a ton of people just cruising on the treadmills?

I mean, if treadmills aren’t the most classic workout thing ever that everyone at one point uses to “get in shape,” then I’m just plumb crazy…

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But here’s the thing; most of the time, people just cruise at a slow jog on these treadmills, and they’ll go on for like 45 minutes doing this.  And what’s crazy about it, is how it’s been proven already that your classic slow jog that everyone does to get in shape just isn’t that good.  In fact, jogging is quite rough on your body, and that’s besides the fact that just jogging for 50 minutes doesn’t do a whole lot for your well intentioned self…(at least for getting in good shape)

In fact, with 10 minutes of high intensity interval training, you’ll burn more calories and get in better shape than doing 40 minutes of slow jogging.

Yet people keep on doing it cause it’s ingrained in their minds…

And often, people do it to lose weight with the mistaken mentality that weight training just makes you bigger and thus isn’t the better way to lose weight.  And thus once again, if you did some serious weight training over 50 minutes of slow poke treadmill running, you’re gonna be better off…

Now, in the same way that people keep on doing this cause it’s “just how you do things,” coaches and players screw up cardio training in soccer and thus also screw up their soccer skills development BIG time.

Not that they just jog and abandon interval running training (though they might screw this up as well), but more so that so many coaches who train players going through the “golden age” of soccer development STILL do lots of cardio where nobody touches a ball

So let me put on my mathematician hat again:

You train 3 times a week for 1.5 hours every session, giving us 4.5 hours of training time a week.

BUT, during every session you (or the coach), spends about 30 minutes doing warm-up/cardio where nobody is touching a dang ball…

That means that for only 3 hours every week the player is getting touches on the ball instead of the 4.5.   So we’re missing out on 1.5 hours of VERY valuable touches on the ball every week.

Nevermind overall soccer training like passing, dribbling, possession, moves etc…

By doing stuff without a ball, you’re missing out on tons of valuable training besides just missing out on precious touches on the ball.

So what’s the problem with this?

Well, it’s that cardio comes and goes.  But ball control? Ball control is about improving your lifetime touches bank.  Every touch increases that lifetime number.  Every cardio session? Once again, comes and goes my dear amigo….You can lose cardio in two weeks if you don’t keep it up, but soccer touch?  Nope, it stays… Sure, you’ll get rusty a little bit, but if you have good ball control you could not touch a ball for a year and still get it back almost instantly.

Once again the problem comes back to the fact that we feel like massive cardio training is what we do…

“I must spend good chunks of my time getting players in shape” is how the thinking goes…

Sure, obviously we need players in shape.  But is that the most important thing?

Or is improving the #1 fundamental in all of ze soccer?

It’s kind of like the winning now argument.  Doing tons of cardio and working on positions might get you more wins.

But is it the best for your player’s overall soccer development?

No it’s not.

But, fortunately for you (and all of us), there’s way better solutions where you don’t have to lose on out on either of these things!

And here’s the thing; the solution is simple.

All you need to do is get creative.

Take warm ups for example.

The typical thing teams do is spend 15 minutes warming up where they do the classic two lines jogging back and forth and go through the “legs up, knees up, sideways” etc…

A great way to avoid that “dead time” as I call it?

Simply get creative and always spend time warming up with a ball.  You can get the EXACT same kind of warm up while everyone is still getting touches of some sort.  This will easily equate to 100’s of thousands of more touches on the ball for players throughout their development phases.

And therein lies your solution to avoiding “dead time” cardio which can be lost in as little as two weeks and doesn’t help players in the long term:

Get creative and instead do cardio within anything else soccer practice related.

What does this mean?

It means you can work on cardio within most other soccer practice activities if you do it right.

Take for example scrimmages in practices.  Make the field bigger and have balls lined up just outside the fields so there’s no wait time.  Push the tempo.  Make teams all have to cross the halfway before scoring.  5 second shooting rule, everyone man marks etc…Do these things and all of a sudden you’ve got cardio training within a scrimmage (during which you’re developing other things as well) and “bob’s your uncle at that point.”

Again, a good coach is constantly making little tweaks and getting creative.  Never just follow a drill like a robot and run something where you don’t adapt.

Always adapt and modify to your needs.  And you can easily modify to get cardio in WHILE training something else.

And then you’re not simply running lines.

You’re working double time.

The simple rule to follow is to avoid doing anything where the ball isn’t involved.

Get creative.

Your player’s long term development will thank you.

QUESTIONS?  Let me know what you think about regular cardio training that involves no ball whatsoever.  

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