Soccer Endurance

Train Endurance
Train Endurance


The quality of endurance makes it possible both to develop and to optimize the cardio-vascular and cardio-respiratory systems by carrying out actions at a given intensity and for a given time.

It is fundamental in soccer performance. It allows to express its soccer qualities on a match or on a matching sequence. Its development calls for a precise methodology to which we must match our objectives. Different methods allow it to be developed and optimized.

Endurance methods:


It consists of performing a continuous stroke at a speed greater than 50% of the maximum aerobic speed (VMA) from a continuous test. It will allow the development of structures promoting endurance by allowing in particular to develop the capillarization irrigating the muscular fibers and to increase the surfaces of metabolic exchanges.


It consists of continuous work at a rate of between 70 and 85% of the VMA. This type of work will make it possible to promote the use of cardio-vascular and cardio-respiratory structures and systems with an increase in the size and the number of elements essential to endurance qualities (the mitochondria).


It corresponds to the intensity from which the player can develop and optimize his endurance qualities through an improvement in physiological systems (glycolytic and oxidative enzymes). It include continuous or interval types at intensities between 90% and 120% of the VMA.


It is a component of the work of Maximum Aerobic Power which allows a mixed solicitation both aerobic and anaerobic. It is challenging neither as an alternation of working time and active or passive recovery during a time period of work. For example, a “30”-30”, time period 12 min” would represent 30” of alternating force with 30” of active recovery during a 12-min period of time.

This method of work is interesting because it would correspond to the activity of the player during a match. In comparison with continuous work, it allows a lower lactate accumulation, a higher stress intensity, an increase in working time, an increase in reaction time and  physiological structures (oxidative enzymes). It is distinguished in several sub-categories: long intermittent (1’30” to 6’), half-long (45” to 1’30”) and short duration (2” to 30”). The most used in soccer are:

  • 5”-25”, 5”-5”,  5”-15”;
  • 10”-10”, 10”-20”,  10”-30”;
  • 15”-15”, 15”-30”,  15”-45”;
  • 20”-20”, 20”-40”;
  • 30”-30”, 30”-15”,  30”-45”;
  • 5”-25”, 10”-20”.

Intermittent efforts are characterized by the duration and intensity of work, the nature and duration of recovery time (active, semi-active or passive), the nature of the effort (line work, integrating motor skills or technical work, etc.), duration and number of time periods and also ratios between working time and recovery time.


These are techniques that make it possible to develop endurance at a lower level than the other methods mentioned above. However, integrated exercises and small sided games can maintain endurance qualities during the season and the competition phase is a very interesting alternative because they involve both the physical, technical and tactical components. Some small sided games would achieve a level of cardiac and aerobic stress equivalent to intermittent exertion.

For example, a comparison of 12 weeks of training (4 weeks in pre-season + 8 weeks in competition) of a group of players playing small sided games (“3 vs 3”, “4 vs 4”, “5 vs 5”) and others performing interval training (4 × 4’ at 90-95% of maximum heart rate with 3’ active rest) showed that reduced play allowed:

  • the same cardiac stress;
  • the same increase in the peak of oxygen consumption;
  • a similar increase in lactate threshold levels;
  • the same improvement in the racing economy.

Furthermore, small sided games reproduce the speed of play, certain tactic characteristics observed and the intensity of the technical and physical sequences during a soccer match.

However, attention must be paid to the different rules and different game formats, since they directly influence the physical, technical and tactical implications. We must clearly define and consider the following:

  • the presence and the size of the goals;
  • the presence or absence of the goalkeeper;
  • the size of the field and the ratio per player;
  • the instructions of the game (conservation, stop-ball, match, etc.);
  • the number of ball touches authorized;
  • the number of players and ratios of players balanced or not;
  • the presence of players positioned as external support;
  • encouragement from coaches;
  • the number and duration of work sequences;
  • the type and duration of the recovery sequences.

All these endurance training methods are used by the professional soccer players. However, the preferred use of one or the other depends on the time of the season, the objectives defined by the club and the coach, the game animations chosen by technical staff and the method of work used by the strength and conditioning trainer. It is important to adapt to the athletic profiles of each subject and to mix the solicitations throughout the year.

The variation between continuous work and intermittent effort is essential, certain periods of the season will require specific work and others will require to get out of the specific efforts.

The quality of endurance mentioned above must be worked and optimized for young athletes. A continuum must be applied during the evolution of the young soccer player with the objective that it reaches its near maximum potential between 18 and 22 years.

This work base also depends on the number of training sessions and tactical patterns advocated within the club. It is important to note that physical training is made according to the technical and tactical training and that the young player must acquire fundamentals during his training as a soccer player.

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