Soccer is an intense sport that demands endurance, speed, agility, and strength. Therefore, soccer players ought to be physically fit and have sound mental health to cope with the demands of the game.
Soccer is not only played during the in-season, players also engage in it during the off-seasons. It is known to be a very demanding sport and players are required to be fit so they can offer their best performance on the pitch.
Being fit plays a huge role in soccer as it ensures you have a healthy life and also makes you less prone to common soccer injuries. While physical fitness is a necessity for athletes, we should not ignore the importance of mental illness too.
Many rigorous activities are involved in soccer and to be able to carry out these activities effectively, players must be energetic, agile, and fit. You often hear coaches say that a particular player will not feature in a game because they are not fit.
Soccer players must understand how to get match fit for soccer fast if they want to play in all major games. In this article, we will discuss extensively the importance of fitness to soccer players and also the benefits players can derive from being fit.
How important is fitness in soccer?
Since the inception of soccer, there has been no rule that exempts soccer players who are not fit from partaking in games. However, playing while unfit is not a good idea as it not only affects the player but the entire team.
Soccer games last for 90 minutes and most times, additional minutes are awarded depending on the referees’ discretion. During a match’s duration, players’ endurance, perseverance, speed, strength, power, flexibility, and agility are severely tested.
Only fit players can exhibit and maintain these characteristics until the end of a game. Average players or players who are not fit enough will get exhausted and lose their cool even before the halftime whistle is blown.
Skillful players must also incorporate physical fitness in their list of priorities because skillfulness alone will not sustain a player on the field. Developing your physical fitness will not only keep you strong and agile but will also improve your overall performance.
Physical fitness can be classified into two types namely, aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Aerobic fitness is the ability of players to use oxygen effectively in creating energy that will sustain them in all activities of the game.
Anaerobic fitness deals with strength, speed, and power. When soccer players have fit anaerobic physiques, they usually have well-chiseled abs which give them an athletic appearance.
Players need to balance both aerobic and anaerobic fitness to be able to attain a high-performance level. Below are the importance of fitness in soccer to players.
Creates a high level of energy and alertness
Players who are fit often exhibit energetic behaviors, they can be seen on the field dribbling through numerous opponents without losing the ball or falling off. They are always saturated with energy and can cover long distances fast, without getting tired.
Having a high energy level that helps you to last the entire 90 minutes is important in soccer because only a few substitutions are allowed in soccer. Imagine what will happen if all the 11 players in a team get tired mid-game.
A high energy level keeps players on the move throughout the game so they can properly station themselves in the right position to receive brilliant passes.
Players also need to be alert and anticipate balls. One moment of loss of concentration can create a scoring opportunity for the opponent.
The unpredictable nature of soccer means there is a constant change in the direction of the ball. Therefore, the ability of a player to move quickly from one position to another on the pitch to possess the ball is what we call a player’s agility.
When players in a team display a high level of agility, the tendency of winning the game becomes higher as they will always respond to passes and shots at high speed and in different directions.
All these quick responses come from the fact that they are fit. An unfit player will find it difficult to navigate the soccer pitch quickly or connect with the team’s tactics.
Fit players always tend to have flexible bodies which is a plus to their team. Flexibility ensures proper lubrication of the joints which allows them to move properly without pain or injury.
From juggling the ball on the pitch to amusing dribbling skills, there is so much that soccer players can do when they are flexible. That explains why every good training session always incorporates flexibility exercises.
Influences eye-foot coordination
The brain of a player who is fit accurately coordinates the muscles and other parts of the body. This gives rise to the improved performance of players on the pitch during matches.
Shooting training improves eye-foot coordination which helps players in directing balls in the right course. A player with a high mental fitness level can process information faster and would be able to translate those thoughts into actions.
Cardiovascular fitness is among the building blocks of a player’s performance because of the high intensity of the sport. It aids the body to deliver oxygen to the cells where they are needed, it ensures optimal oxygen intake and a standard heart rate.
In simple words, the faster your body can break down carbohydrates in the presence of oxygen, the more energy it will produce. Also, the rate at which your body will be able to utilize the produced energy will depend on the fitness of your muscular system.
Players with cardiovascular fitness will outperform their counterparts in work rate and endurance. Any issue with your cardiovascular system can abruptly terminate your career.
Many soccer players have ended their careers because they have a hole in the heart of other heart diseases. A notable example is ex-Nigerian international, Kanu Nwankwo.
Mental fitness enhances communication
Communication is essential in soccer because players need to constantly communicate with teammates on the best options to take. There are various ways through which soccer players communicate during a game including the use of hand signs and facial expressions.
Obviously, a player that is facing any form of emotional or mental stress will find it hard to communicate properly with his or her teammate. That explains why soccer players are usually exempted from a match if they are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Players with poor mental fitness also tend to be aggressive when communicating with their teammates—and the message is often lost amidst the rant.
This explains why whenever a team is losing a game, the captain or coach will try to boost their mental confidence in any way possible.
Physical fitness can earn you fame
As a soccer player, having ripped abs and overall physical fitness will not only help you to play at your best, it can also be a doorway to greater opportunities.
We have seen soccer players become brand ambassadors or appear in commercials showing off their toned bodies. Soccer players with sexy bodies tend to attract more female fans too.
Sometimes, signing an endorsement deal is simply a game of numbers. In other words, the more fans a soccer player has, the more brands will be willing to partner with them—with the anticipation that the soccer player will sway his or her fans to try the product.
Even though you can play soccer without being physically or mentally fit, it is less likely that you will feature in major games or attract high-profile teams to sign you. Your career will probably end on the streets.
Keeping fit (physically and mentally) is highly recommended for soccer players. The more fit you are, the longer you will run and stay focused on the game.
It is not surprising that you will often hear fans of the game argue that soccer players are the fittest in the world. This is partly because they keep working on their fitness in and off seasons—unlike other athletes that take a break from the gym during off-seasons.
Sadly, we have seen a lot of soccer players prioritize their physical fitness while neglecting their mental fitness. To be a complete player that maintains his or her cool down to the last minute of the game, you need to balance your physical and mental fitness.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
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!