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What Are Good Exercises for Soccer Players?

What Are Good Exercises for Soccer Players?

In the sporting world, soccer is one of the most tasking sports because it demands adequate speed, accuracy, patience, endurance, and agility. Each soccer player ought to work on these basic skills to excel.

A player with reliable speed and agility can easily swerve directions in microseconds. Also having endurance will enable a player to perform actively throughout the 90 minutes of a tough match.

People usually believe that professional soccer players play well because they are naturally talented in the sport. This belief is false because professional players usually go through a series of exercises, training, drills, and workouts daily.

To keep fit, enhance skills, and improve their performance levels, professional players usually employ the help of proficient trainers to help them stay focused and dedicated to their daily training.

In addition to the basic skills required in soccer, players also need sufficient power and strength, most of which are built by exercising, training, and working out. These activities are the proven bedrock for excelling in soccer.

Players can often be seen carrying out different soccer-related exercises during off-seasons and seasons. Most demanding exercises usually require dedication and perseverance to achieve the required results.

Several types of exercises are in existence. We understand that some of our readers may find it difficult to figure out what exercises are good for soccer players due to various conflicting information out there.

If you happen to belong to this category, you don’t need to worry any longer. In this article, we will have an in-depth discussion concerning the best exercises for soccer players. Keep reading!

Soccer players are practicing

What are good exercises for soccer players?

A lot of people carry out exercises for different reasons but soccer players mostly engage in exercises to increase their speed, endurance, agility, shot power, and strength. These skills help boost their performance on the pitch.

Players who can properly balance their training to touch on all skills achieve more than those who obsess over upgrading a particular skill.

Some exercises work on specific areas of the body or allow a soccer player to work on a specific skill. However, other forms of exercise are more decentralized and help a soccer player to achieve overall fitness.

Obviously, a soccer player should not engage in all forms of exercise. Your routine should be tailored to match what you are trying to achieve.

Below are some of the best exercises that can help a soccer player to either improve performance or overall fitness.

Soccer player practicing at the night

Agility ladder drill

Players need lots of coordination with their feet when handling soccer balls so they can move quickly and maneuver easily without losing balls to opponents.

The agility ladder drill helps players in achieving this as it not only strengthens their muscles and joint tendons, it also improves their body awareness, dexterity, and coordination.

This exercise requires an agility ladder—a foldable ladder that can be used anywhere. This drill can be carried out at the gym, in the pitch, and even in the comfort of your home.

In a situation where an agility ladder is not readily available, you can get creative by either drawing one on the floor using sidewalk chalk, or you can make use of the floor tiles in your house.

Different drills can be carried out using an agility ladder, below are some of the applicable drills

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Soccer ladder drill

One foot runs

  • Hop into each square by lifting one of your legs, jump then land on the other leg
  • Position the elbow at the jumping foot side in sync while the other elbow should drive back
  • Do this movement from one end of the ladder down to the other end
  • Do the same process back to the end where you started

Two-foot runs

  • Place the ladder on a flat surface and stand on either end of the ladder
  • Land each foot on each of the squares or boxes with a low knee at a moderate pace and move forward to the end of the ladder
  • When you get to the end, turn and go back to the end you came from repeating the same procedure and using the same pace
  • Repeat the to and fro movements increasing your pace at different instances until you get to the fastest pace that suits you


  • Your feet should be placed hip-width apart, make a low squat and position your hand backward then jump and land your feet into one square
  • Then, split your legs to both sides of the ladder
  • Make another jump into the next square and do another split to the sides
  • Repeat the steps till you get to the end of the ladder
  • Make a turn and do the same while heading to your starting point

Lateral run

  • Face the squares by standing at the side of the ladder
  • Do an in and out movement by stepping each foot in and out of the squares
  • Make your way along the side of the ladder down to the other end of the ladder
  • When you get to the end of the ladder, change your direction to the other side of the ladder and repeat the same process back to your starting point

Soccer player jump on the ladder drills

You can do all of the drills or choose the one that best fits into your goal and stick with it. Ladder drills can improve cardiovascular health.

They are also good for improving your sprint. It is also an effective drill for soccer players and prospective soccer players that want to lose weight.

Simple Workout Using an Agility Ladder

Single leg hurdle hops

Although speed is crucial in soccer, you need to balance it with power if you want to score goals. The single-leg hurdle hop is one of the best exercises for improving your shot power.

This drill strengthens both legs so that either of them can carry your full body weight—and builds your calf muscles in the process. Another benefit of the single-leg hurdle hop is that it improves your stamina and balance.

When carrying out this exercise, you are advised to limit your time on the ground. Move speedily to avoid harming yourself.

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Soccer player practicing with hurdle hops

Below are the steps for carrying out the single-leg hurdle hop

  • Step 1

Place about 4 to 5 six-inch hurdles on the ground which should be 20 inches apart from each other.

  • Step 2

After properly placing the hurdles, position yourself in front of the first hurdle.

  • Step 3

Raise one of your legs then jump over each of the hurdles landing on the toes of the same leg until you get to the last hurdle.

  • Step 4

Repeat the process back to your starting point using the other leg. Set a target on the number of times you will jump the hurdle and gradually move the number up.

Mini Hurdle Hops - Single Leg

At the initial stage, you are advised to carry out this drill at a moderate speed. Increase your speed when you get comfortable with the drill.

Soccer player practicing with hurdle


Plyometric exercises are aimed at improving players’ coordination, balance, muscle build, and explosive strength. They require speedy force generation because they are explosive and high-impact exercises.

Intensity is highly considered in plyometrics. Therefore, players are advised to jump their highest, burst their fastest, and move forward having in mind that they are carrying out a vigorous sprint.

Plyometric is a very essential exercise for soccer players as it improves agility and explosiveness. Also, permits players to react faster during play and reduces their ground time reaction.

Because of the intensive nature of plyometrics, it can’t be carried out by all age groups. However, this training technique can be modified by making them easier for younger age groups and less fit soccer players.

For instance, a young player who is fit and healthy can go for 2 or 3 sets of 10 box jumps while a less fit player can consider going for 15 meters of mild skipping.

Players are advised to get enough rest before embarking on any plyometric exercise to avoid sustaining injuries. After adequate rest, you can then gradually inculcate plyometric exercises in your workout routine.

Plyometric box jump

Below are some plyometric exercises which you can do by yourself.

Box jump

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The box jump works players’ hips, glutes, and calves and also gets their heart rate up.

  • Place a box of about 8-10 inches in height and stand in front of it, your knees should be bent slightly, put your arms at your side, and your feet should be shoulder-width apart
  • Squat down and move your body in an upward direction using your arms
  • Jump and make sure to land on the box with both feet
  • In a backward direction, jump down
  • Repeat the process until you get tired

Box jump

Jump squats

Jump squats are similar to regular squats but they are slightly different because of the powerful vertical jumps included in jump squats.

  • Stand with your chest up, your feet should be shoulder-width apart, back straight, your knees should be bent and your butt should sit back as though you are trying to sit in a chair
  • Make a high jump by pushing your heels through followed by the midfoot and toes
  • Power up your body using the arms, by extending your arms to the back of your torso, then swing your arm frontward then straight up making sure it goes above the head
  • Upon landing, position into a full squat and repeat the process again


Bounding is sometimes referred to as exaggerated skipping, but for every skip, you will cover a more vertical height.

  • The arms are used to engage the core to skip in an upward and forward direction, springing from the calves at every instance
  • Start as though you are skipping and use one of your legs to make a push from the ground
  • Make a high knee with the other leg
  • The leg you used in making a high knee and the opposite arm should mimic each other and they should be moved up shoulder height at a 90-degree
  • The other arm should go down by the hip side
  • Alternate the legs and change the position of the arms with each bounce
  • Repeat the steps and go high as possible towards the sky with every bound
How to Do Bounding Exercises | Plyometric Exercises

High-intensity Interval Training on a Treadmill

When the weather condition changes your outdoor exercise routine, a treadmill can serve as a suitable alternative. The high-intensity interval training treadmill is helpful when building endurance and speed.

It also tests players’ fast-twitch muscle fiber limit by increasing their heartbeat. The body is prompted to create new muscles that are mostly used for managing future physical demands when players engage more in high-intensity interval training exercises.

Soccer player practicing on a treadmill

Below are the steps for carrying out a high-intensity interval training exercise

  • Step 1

Do a warm-up for the session either by jogging or walking for about 10 minutes.

  • Step 2

When you are done with the warm-up, you will gradually increase the speed to a faster pace, one that will increase your heart rate about 80-85 percent of its maximum, keep that speed for a minute.

  • Step 3

After sprinting for a minute, you should take a 1-2 minutes recovery period by reducing the pace to a relaxed jog or walk.

  • Step 4

After recovering, do another sprint for a minute and then take 1-2 minutes recovery time.

  • Step 5

Repeat step 4 for 20-30 minutes.

  • Step 6

Reduce the pace gradually and jog or walk for about 5 minutes before coming to a halt.

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Burpee pull-ups

This soccer conditioning drill is one of Ronaldo’s favorites, this is because it encompasses a range of the lower body, the core, and the upper body movements. All these put together effectively raises your heart rate very fast.

It helps you work on your arms, chest, glutes, abs, and hamstring thereby making you stronger. It is very good for soccer players because it affects most parts of the body at once.

This perfect workout that builds power, speed, and explosion was designed by the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo and it features burpee pull-ups, barbell squats, and rope work.

Ronaldo recommends that before starting any exercise, doing a serious warm-up goes a long way in preparing your body for the tedious activities done during exercises.

Below are the steps for carrying out a burpee pull-up

  • Step 1

Spread your feet shoulder-length apart while standing under a high bar.

  • Step 2

Bend down, stretch your hand forward on the floor and make sure it is a few inches before your toes. Take a push-up position by making a quick jump with your legs stretched backward.

  • Step 3

You can now do a push-up, at the same time, raise your hips rapidly and enter into a squat position.

  • Step 4

Stand up from the squat position and jump making sure you grab the bar, then do a pull-up.

  • Step 5

After the pull-up, drop to the ground in a standing position and repeat the process about 5-10 times.



Most soccer players will include weightlifting in their exercise regimen—and it’s for a good reason. There are times in soccer when the player has to rely on physical strength to win the ball.

Romelu Lukaku is a good example of a soccer player that uses his physical build very well against the defenders of the opposing team. Besides making you stronger, weightlifting limits the risk of injuries, burns calories, controls body fat and improves bone health.

Defenders and midfielders are some of the soccer positions that require strong players. When including weightlifting in your routine it is important to start with weights that you can handle and gradually move up the ladder.

We have done thorough research on the benefits of weightlifting to soccer players and why you should or should not include it in your exercise routine. You can read all about it here.


Soccer player warm up

Accomplishing amazing feats in soccer doesn’t require just talent alone, it also requires dedication, practice, passion, and patience. Soccer also requires players’ consistency to enable them to maintain whatever they have built over time.

This is the key reason why most of the world’s best players still hit the gym daily and carry out intensive and vigorous exercises which help them stay fit.

Players are also advised to employ the services of professional trainers especially during off-seasons when they are less likely to stay dedicated.

Finding the right combination of exercise for a soccer player is just as important as finding the right nutrition. Stick with a routine that will build a rounded player rather than having an excessive obsession for one skill.

Being the fastest player on the field without stamina and balance will likely not get your name on the score sheet.