How often do you find yourself playing a game of football and find yourself gasping for air after just a few minutes?
What about 60 minutes into the game when you try and track that runner and feel that your legs just too heavy to keep up?
You may even be in a position where you haven’t played a game yet but are curious to know if you’ll be able to last the game or even the season!
Whether you are frustrated at not knowing if you are fit enough already or curious to know if you will be, we have a few things for you to consider to put your mind at ease.
The first thing that has come to your mind is probably endurance.
Football players at the elite level often cover 10km+, run at speeds over 30km/h, are able to run, tackle, shoot, jump and sprint for 3-8 seconds with anywhere from 20-90 seconds of jogging, shuffling or walking for 90 minutes and can play over 50 matches per season.
So clearly players don’t only need to have aerobic fitness. They also have to have speed, power, be able to recover quickly and be strong and resilient enough to last a full season
Do you need to be able to do this? Well that depends what level you play at, what position you play and what your physically capable of.
Are you playing professional? Semi-pro? Sunday league? Five-a-sides?
The match demands of each level differ greatly. The higher the level the faster the running speeds, the more often they will be required to be performed and the higher quality your movements will have to be.
Don’t go stressing about being as fit as your mate who plays semi-pro if your initial goal is to be Sunday league fit.
It’s just a number they say but truth is as you get older the body naturally slows down a bit. Recovery becomes that little bit harder, warm ups take longer and you can’t go as hard as often in training. The opposite can be true for the younger players!
So if you are a 35 year old who have been playing for 25 years in a squad with youthful 18 and 19 year old’s, don’t be too ashamed if you think these lads are fitter than you.
How much time do you have to dedicate to your training? Do you have 1,2 or 3+ times per week of training?
How often do you play?
If you can only train once per week then chances are your fitness potential is limited. If you have 3x per week then you will be in a better position to get that match fitness.
Additionally, and most importantly, do you play matches? If you want to be better at anything you have to do it more. If you want to be football fit, you have to play football.
WHAT CAN YOU DO
To know where you have to get to you need to know where you are.
A few fitness tests are helpful to knowing where you sit.
By all means don’t be concerned if you aren’t hitting all of these standards, if you are at a lower level you may find you are lower on some of these goals.
However, these are some standards we see players hit who are definitely fit enough to play football.
Yo-Yo IR2 (use the Beep Test Lite App)
5, 10, 20m Speed Tests
Goal: < 1s, < 2s, < 3s
Current Resting Heart Rate
Goal: Less than 60bpm
How Long Does it Take Your Heart Rate to recover to 120-130bpm after a bout of hard exercise:
Goal: < 60s
Standing Long Jump
Goal: > 1.4 x Height (cm)
Goal: 1.5x Bodyweight
To take the guesswork out of whether or not you are fit for your playing level:
- Play football
- Be realistic of your level, age and how much time you have
- Test yourself to see how far you are from some requirement for the demands of the game.