The importance of being fit transcends beyond the world of soccer. Aside from allowing you to live a healthier and more balanced life, it also reduces the chances of you falling ill. But when you consider the nature of soccer, being fit is not necessarily a requirement to play.
That said, knowing the correct body posture to excel at all areas of the game could prove helpful in improving your experience. Plus, understanding the implications of playing the game while not fully fit could help players make well-thought out choices.
This article hopes to answer the question on the importance of fitness in the game of soccer. It will show the benefits that come with playing fit and a few drawbacks, should you choose between improving your fitness level.
Let’s get started!
- Do you need to be fit to play soccer?
- What Is The Ideal Body For A Soccer Player?
Do you need to be fit to play soccer?
If the question, do you need to be fit to play soccer is asked in terms of whether or not fitness is a rule for playing, then the answer is no. No soccer law prohibits players from playing when not fit. However, as a common-sense rule, playing unfit is not advisable.
This is because the unfit player negatively affects the team as they become a weak link. Furthermore, being unfit limits your expression in the game as you struggle to give your best during the match.
Generally, staying fit mentally and physically impacts a player’s performance, and the ones who master this early enough in their careers are rising faster than those who struggle with the concept and pay little attention to fitness.
Fit players run faster, jump higher and kick the ball farther than players with fitness struggles. With the game’s evolution, players sometimes survive solely on being fit rather than being extremely talented.
For instance, certain positions on the pitch rely more on your athleticism than your soccer talent. If you fancy getting fit for soccer, here are some of the benefits you stand to gain.
1. Improved ball control
One of the core skills required to thrive in soccer is controlling the ball. This requires a lot of coordination to move the ball in the way you desire. Another aspect of ball control is the first touch, the ability to receive a pass and immediately bring it under your spell.
Being fit allows you to control the ball efficiently and move your body with greater ease.
It ensures you don’t use up your energy easily, as would have been the case if you weren’t. Different scenarios on the pitch may require you to control the ball with other parts of your body.
Be it your head, legs, or chest, being fit ensures that you have perfect control of these parts of your body. Fatigue and overweight are the two most common conditions that make soccer players unfit.
2. Last longer/endurance
Lasting the entire duration of the game is one of the ways to stand out as a player. However, some players find it difficult to maintain their efficiency till the final whistle is blown. This is why we have substitutes who take the place of the tired or injured players.
Regardless of how talented a soccer player is, being exhausted quickly greatly reduces the usefulness of such a player. In certain instances, a coach may prefer a player that will last the entire match than a talented player that gets exhausted quickly.
Why? Soccer is a team sport, and some formations depend on the entire team maintaining a shape for the game’s entirety. Therefore, any opening created by a “too tired” player would ultimately harm the team as the opposition could exploit that weakness.
3. Better communication
One thing about exhaustion and tiredness is that it robs you of your voice and attentiveness. Your focus at that point will be solely on conserving the little energy you have left.
As you struggle to catch your breath after making another back and forth sprint across the field, all you can think of is the final whistle.
Staying fit helps to prevent this as you stay fresh and willing to make your voice heard across the field. Better communication ensures that you are in sync with the rest of the team.
You can constantly communicate and share information with your teammates to plot the downfall of the opposition.
On the other hand, being mentally fit allows you to keep your head in the game. A troubled mind will have difficulty focusing on the game.
Moreover, you could lose the ball easily or end up taking longer than you should when making crucial decisions on the pitch.
4. Less prone to injury
Another benefit of staying fit to play soccer is that you are less prone to injury than when unfit. We can all agree that injuries are part of the game and almost inevitable, but as much as possible, soccer teams and players do their best to prevent it.
This is why having perfectly toned muscles is crucial. A body used to exercise routine and long workout sessions is less likely to break down and wear out during the game than one who isn’t usually exposed to these conditions.
Staying fit ensures that you have a body that has been stretched through several levels of pain and stress. This makes the player more likely to come out of collisions and tackles unhurt.
In addition, the stretched muscles don’t get torn during use in the game as done earlier during training. Furthermore, playing unfit could also imply playing injured—and there are many instances where this becomes necessary.
For example, a player who is a core member or even the best player on the team may have to play when injured. This is done to inspire fear in the mind of the opposition as they are fully aware of the capacity of the injured player.
5. Recovery time
The time it takes for the body to heal itself is significantly reduced when the player in question is in a peak physical condition. Fit players can heal faster because their bodies work faster, having been put through rigorous training sessions.
Aside from the fact that being unfit makes you more prone to injuries, it also takes longer for the body to heal itself. The minimal rate of activity ultimately slows down the entire recovery process.
One of the ways players are valued is how quickly they recover from injuries. This implies that players that heal faster are valued more than their slow healing. Also a player that stays fit will likely earn higher pay than unfit players.
6. General gaming experience
Being fit allows you to enjoy all the many benefits the sport offers. It will enable you to partake in all aspects of the game. Plus, you stand a better chance of playing all positions on the pitch when fit, as your body will easily adjust to this position.
For example, wingers and fullbacks do a lot of running. Hence to play in this position, you have to be lightweight and ready to run the entire pitch length.
However, this is not the case with defenders and goalkeepers who are usually stationed and rarely venture forward.
This is why the body shapes of players in these positions vary slightly. To be functional in every part of the pitch, you need to be fully fit.
You never know, even as a goalkeeper or a defender, you may need to venture forward in the game at some point when the coach switches tactics or when the team is searching for a goal.
Versatility is one of the attributes that could make a player stand out, and you need the right fitness level to be versatile.
7. Longer careers
When you look through the history of the game, you will realize that most of the players who maintained a good fitness level during their peak years usually have longer careers than players who pay little attention to their health and fitness.
A good example is Portuguese and Real Madrid legend Cristiano Ronaldo, famed for having an intense workout routine. As a result, he has been playing the game into his late thirties with the athleticism of a 20-year old.
Likewise, you also have players that paid little attention to their physical well-being and later paid the price by having a short-lived career. A good example is Brazilian Striker Adriano.
His best years were in the colors of the Italian club Internazionale. He burned for a while, but a culture of poor fitness routines and all-night clubbing brought a quick end to his blossoming career.
1. Chances of being bullied
Staying physically fit may not necessarily rule out the chances of being bullied by bulkier players. In boxing, weight classes are separated to not give certain fighters an undue advantage over their opponents.
Fighters tend to use the extra weight in weighing down their opponents through long bouts of clinching and heavy punching. This is not the case in soccer. A fit winger can trump a giant defender.
However, the bigger player usually wins the battle. Be it jumping for a header from a set-piece or running side-by-side, the smaller player gets bullied in most cases.
The only instance where being fit can come in handy in situations like this is when the fit player uses speed and precision to avoid contact of any sort with the larger unfit player.
2. Injuries are inevitable
Fit or unfit, injuries come for all. Even though your fitness level may prevent or even reduce the chances of injuries, it doesn’t rule it out. Tackles are made constantly in matches, and even when there are no tackles, players still fall or tear hamstrings.
There are chances that even in trying to get in shape for the game, you end up over-extending a part of your body—and damage something. In addition, injuries over time reduce the potency and efficiency of a player.
Hence, the best option is to keep it simple when getting in shape.
3. Possibility of overdoing it
Fitness junkies get obsessed with having a perfectly chiseled body. In soccer, overdoing it and pushing your bodies farther than necessary harms performance.
Muscle injuries and fatigue become frequent. This eventually reduces the game time of such a player as more time is spent on the treatment table.
This is why bulking up muscles is done under supervision in professional teams. Fitness experts understand different body postures and can guide on which areas to bulk up to avoid hampering the player’s performance.
What Is The Ideal Body For A Soccer Player?
There are three primary body shapes: the ectomorph, the mesomorph, and the endomorph. The mesomorph remains the most suitable body shape for soccer of all three.
Ectomorphs are tall, long, and slender. This body shape is more titled towards a few soccer players but majorly basketball players. An example is Peter Crouch and Neymar.
Endomorphs, on the other hand, are more round and heavy. You will find that certain strikers and defenders have this body posture. Examples are Romelu Lukaku and Wayne Rooney.
This leaves us with the mesomorphs, a body shape more suited to soccer players. They are muscular, lean, and of average height. Examples include Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos. See our guide on how to keep fit for soccer.
You would agree that fitness is crucial for both daily living and soccer. There is an exercise routine perfectly tailored for you for all positions on the field and all body postures.
So, take advantage of these routines and play the game at your best. Preferably, align your fitness goals to fit into the mesomorph category for a better soccer gaming experience.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!