We have selected and organized past Performance Conditioning Soccer articles to help you design your own soccer-specific strength and conditioning program using the "Fit to a T" 7-T System of Program Design. This library spans our 20 years of bringing coaches reliable how-to articles from the worlds leading soccer conditioning experts.
What is "Fit to a T"? No two conditioning programs are alike. If something "fits to a T" then it's perfect for your purpose and no one else. We have come up with a 7-T system to fit you to your T to get your athletes fit to perform at their best.
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Introducing the 7-T 's and what they mean to you!
Section T-1 Training Age
Establish the maturity and experience level of your players. This effects the exercises you choose, how hard you do them and for how long.
- Start with body weight exercises for young/beginning level athletes. Gaining control of your own body weight does not require using weight or resistance to start.
- Introduce good speed/running techniques as soon as possible. This goes hand-in-hand with ball skill development.
- In endurance training the young athlete, make it soccer-specific. Avoid long slow-distance runs, disrupting an activity with coaching instructions and drills that require athletes to stand in line. These "interruptions" work against endurance development.
- Are there injuries that may limit what your athletes can do?
Section T-2 Time
Realize it is your master in planning a conditioning program. How much time should you spend on each element in conditioning and, more importantly, how does it fit in with practice? The key is to establish conditioning priorities. You cannot do everything all at once. A priority in conditioning is developing one or two elements of conditioning, such as speed, at a time. Incorporate the other elements as you set your priority, but only from the standpoint maintaining their performance levels. This is "maintenance" is specific to the season you are in. Now let's see how this fits in.
Section T -3 Tools
Determine which tools you and your athletes have access to in developing each conditioning element.
Important consideration: Is all my conditioning done on the field, or will I have access to a gym/weight room?
Section T-4 Teach the Exercises
Determine if you can teach the exercises you prescribe to your athletes. This is the best way to insure your program is safe.
Important consideration: If there are exercises you do not feel comfortable teaching, can you enlist the help of a qualified strength and/or speed coach?
Section T-5 Testing
Determine a way to measure the development of your athletes and your program’s effectiveness through field testing. This goes back to the definition of conditioning - planned, measured progressive overload.
- Select field test that you can administer quickly and easily.
- Test at the start/end of a season to see where you are and what you must work on.
- Be sure your testing program is reliable.
Section T-6 Total Workload
Determine the workload placed on each of your athletes. Total workload is soccer practice, competition with you, work done in the gym/weight room outside your soccer activity, work done in other sports and work done under the direction of parents. Recovery is an important often forgotten aspect of total workload. Be sure to include it.
Total workload as part of soccer practice can be measured by using heart rate monitors/GPS etc., perceived exertion charts or simply asking the athletes how they feel. The challenge is to determine workload done by the athlete as part of outside activity. One way to do this is have other parties (parents, other coaches) help fill in your athlete's calendar; this takes great, open communication. You, the soccer coach, should take control as the leader in this area and use this planner as your guide in establishing this leadership role.
Important consideration: Don't forget recovery!
Section T-7 Position Specific
Determine individual position conditioning considerations. The movement and energy demands vary greatly between the keeper and the mid-fielder, for example.