6 Soccer Workouts to Improve Your Game (Skills, Cardio, Gym)

Regular soccer workouts are essential for every player who wants to fulfil their potential.

While honing your touch, technique, and talent is incredibly important if you want to get better at soccer, it’s just as important to focus on your physical attributes.

Besides the training you do with the ball, you need to not only work on your athleticism and agility, but also on your stamina, speed, and strength.

By spending time in the gym and using part of your training regime to focus on conditioning and cardio, you can greatly improve your soccer skills and maximise your performances.

This is because you will not only stay fit, fresh, and focused for the whole match but also have the agility and explosiveness to get to the ball before your opponent and the strength to hold them off, time and time again.

To help you take your game to the next level, we've come up with these 6 soccer workouts which will improve your skills, stamina, and strength whether you're out on the training ground, at home, or in the gym.

Soccer Workouts for Skill Improvement

While all soccer players need to be fit enough to get in position and impact the game, conditioning and strength count for very little if you don't have the technique and talent to back them up.

As such, the more time you spend practising with the ball at your feet, the more comfortable and in control you’ll be when it comes to competing out on the pitch.

To hone your technique and talent, here are a couple of soccer workouts for you to try in between training sessions.

Workout One: Touch and Ball Control

Having a great first touch will help you thrive as a player as you’ll immediately be able to get the ball under control and away from your opponent.

This wins you space and time and allows you to greater impact and influence the outcome of the match.

Here are some great exercises which you can either work on at home alone, out on the training pitch with a friend, or anywhere you find space and time.

Exercise One: Juggling

Loads of fun to practice, juggling allows you to work on your control with your feet, thighs, chest, and head and improve your ball-handling skills, touch, and technique at the same time.

How To Do It:

Read First: How to Juggle a Soccer Ball Like a Pro

Start off either with the ball on the floor in front of you or in your hands.

Either flick the ball up into the air with your feet or drop it from your hands to start juggling.

You then want to keep the ball in the air, keeping control over where it goes with both of your feet, adding in touches with your thighs, chest, and head where necessary.

Try not to let it touch the ground but keep it in the air for as long as possible.

If this is too easy, then try juggling with a friend and test each other's touch and control by volleying it back and forth to one another.

Exercise Two: Wall Passes

By kicking a ball against a wall (or practising with a friend), you not only hone how you pass and strike the ball but also your first touch and control.

How To Do It:

Find a solid wall which you can kick a ball against without anyone complaining.

Stand around a couple of metres from the wall and then kick the ball against it, readying yourself at the same time to control the rebound.

With this exercise, you want to control it perfectly with one touch so that you can easily kick the ball back from the same position without breaking a stride.

There are loads of ways to vary this up such as gradually moving farther from the wall, striking it harder as you do so.

You can also work on passing it with one touch against the wall, alternate your feet, or hit it higher up so you have to control it with your thigh or chest.

On top of this, you can also run alongside the wall so that you learn to control and pass the ball at an angle.

Another way to practice this exercise is to do so with a friend on a soccer pitch, hitting the ball to each other both from near and afar.

Exercise Three: Dribbling

Another great way to improve your close ball control skills is to work on your dribbling either at home alone or out on the pitch with a friend.

How To Do It:

Set up a line of cones or obstacles for you to dribble around.

Start at one end with the ball at your feet and slowly make your way around the cones.

You can either use just one foot or both of them, increasing the speed at which you go as you gain in confidence.

To make this exercise more challenging, place the cones closer together or at different angles so that you have to take the ball in different directions.

Try using only the inside or outside of your foot and remember to keep your head up, looking ahead while you dribble.

If you’re with a friend, attempt to dribble around them using the various skills and techniques you already know to get around them.

Alternate so that you both get a chance to dribble and defend.

Workout Two: Passing and Shooting 

For this soccer workout, you’ll need to have a friend, teammate, or coach to practice and play with as the exercises focus on improving your passing and shooting abilities.

They also help with your first touch, ball control, and striking technique and accuracy.

These are key skills and can be worked on either as part of a training session or as a kickabout with a friend outside of practice.

Exercise One: Grid Passing

With this drill, two players test out each other's first touch and passing abilities by shooting the ball into each other's feet.

Not only do they learn how to pass the ball accurately and powerfully but they also improve their ball control at the same time.

How To Do It:

Set up two small grids of about three by three metres, around ten to twenty metres apart.

Each player has their own grid with one of them starting with the ball at their feet.

They start the drill by passing the ball into their partner's grid.

The receiving player should control the pass with one touch, attempting to keep the ball within the grid.

It’s then their turn to pass the ball to their partner who in turn attempts to control it with one touch and keep it inside the square.

Whenever a player fails to control the ball and keep it inside their square, the other player gets a point. Likewise, if the pass is poor then the opposing player gets a point. In this way, the drill tests both of the players' touch and passing technique.

To make it harder, you can increase the distance between the grids and also get the players to do passes in the air to one another, thereby testing their long-distance passing and chest and thigh control.

Players should also use their weaker foot to strengthen it.

Set a specific time or target for the players or one another before starting out on the exercise.

Exercise Two: One Touch Passing

In pairs, players test out their one-touch passing, paying close attention to the weight and accuracy of the pass.

This mirrors real game situations and is useful for players of all different ages.

How To Do It:

The players stand in a line, around ten to twenty metres from one another.

The player with the ball kicks it to their partner who passes it back with just one touch.

Whenever they pass the ball, the player moves towards their partner, thereby narrowing the gap.

They do this until they get too close to each other at which point they start backing away from each other each time they make a pass.

In this way, the players practice their one-touch passing over a variety of distances and so have to calculate just how much power to put behind it each time.

To make it more challenging, you can make players practice with only their weaker foot or increase the starting distance from one another.

Another option is to get them to play the ball to each other in the air but give them one touch to control it and get it out from under their feet.

Again, it’s a good idea to set a time limit before starting the drill and then varying it up as you go.

Exercise Three: Power and Finesse Shooting Drill

With this drill, both players take it in turns to shoot at goal and improve their finishing skills and goalscoring abilities.

Players can shoot from a stationary position, on the run, or with one touch and either finesse or power it past the keeper.

How To Do It: 

One player stands in front of the goal and is the goalkeeper while the other player stands at the edge of the box and is the shooter.

From the edge of the box, the shooter can either choose to shoot the ball from a stationary position or pass it in front of them before hitting it on the run.

They can choose to either try and power it past the keeper by striking it with their laces or go for accuracy and curl or finesse it instead.

Once the keeper has the ball, either from saving it or picking it out of the back of the net, they can then roll it to the edge of the box for the shooter to strike it in one go.

In this way, they get to try out a number of different shooting techniques, working on their power and accuracy.

The goalkeeper can also throw it back to them in the air so that the player can practise volleying the ball too.

After taking ten shots, the players switch over so both get a chance being the keeper and shooter.

Boys doing agility training on their school's soccer pitch

Soccer Workouts for Cardio Strength

As aforementioned, soccer players need to have great levels of fitness and stamina if they’re to last the full ninety minutes and still be able to impact and influence the game to the best of their abilities in extra time.

Simple mistakes occur when players are tired and this is often when the fitter team capitalises and ruthlessly punishes any sloppy pass or slip of concentration.

By working on your cardio, you'll be able to greatly improve your performances as you remain fitter, fresher, and focused for longer, as well as be more dynamic and explosive in your play.

Here are a couple of great cardio workouts that you can combine with your soccer practices.

Workout One: Agility and Athleticism

Being agile and quick on your feet is a very useful attribute to have in soccer as it allows you to turn quickly and burst away from your marker.

In general, the more athletic you are, the more you’ll be able to impact and influence games, providing of course that you already have good technique, talent, and positioning.

Here are some great exercises which you can incorporate into your soccer workouts at home.

Exercise One: The Agility Ladder

A great way to improve your footwork and agility at the same time is to use an agility ladder during your workout.

There are loads of different drills you can work through which help to improve your coordination and balance, technique, and touch.

How To Do It: 

Place an agility ladder flat on the floor and line up at one end of it.

Without the ball, sprint through the agility ladder, making sure to take short, sharp steps with each foot landing within each square.

After this, start to one side of the agility ladder and shuffle your way in and out of it, again taking short, sharp steps to either side with both feet landing within the square.

Try and do these as quickly as possible as the two exercises help with your footwork, speed, agility, and explosiveness.

To make it more challenging, you can incorporate jumping exercises into the workout or dribble a ball from side to side through the rungs of the agility ladder.

Exercise Two: Box Jumps

As well as strengthening your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves, box jumps also help increase your speed, power, and athleticism.

How To Do It:

Find yourself a sturdy and stable box or step which is around 50cm in height.

Stand in front of it with your feet shoulder-width apart.

You then want to bend into a quarter squat, swing your arms back, and then explosively push up off of the ground and spring onto the box, bringing your arms forward at the same time to propel you forward.

Your landing should look almost the same as your starting quarter squat position with your knees bent and your arms in front for balance. Once you’ve done this, jump backwards and land back on the ground in the position you started in.

To increase the difficulty, simply choose a higher box or step which will then require you to put more power into your jump.

Try and do three sets of five reps, focusing on your form each time.

Exercise Three: Mountain Climbers

Aside from improving your cardiovascular fitness and raising your heartbeat, mountain climbers also strengthen your core, hamstrings, and glutes.

In addition to this, they also improve your agility, coordination, and athleticism.

How To Do It:

Set yourself up in a plank position with your weight evenly distributed between your hands and toes which should both be set around shoulder-width apart.

Your abs should be tensed and your body should roughly be in a straight line.

Once you have the correct starting position, begin by pulling your right knee as far as possible to your chest.

After that, you bring it back down while simultaneously bringing your left knee up as you switch over.

As you alternate between the two, make sure to keep your hips down and to push your knees in and out as quickly as possible and as far towards your chest as you can.

If this is too easy, then you can always move on to the foot-switch mountain climbers.

While the idea is the same, instead of bringing one leg back before bringing the other one up, you simply jump and switch between the two.

Try and do the mountain climbers three times for thirty seconds, slowly increasing the length of time that you do them.

Workout Two: Speed and Stamina

Due to the nature of the sport, soccer players have to not only be incredibly fit but also have a turn of pace about them.

Players, therefore, need to have the stamina to last the whole ninety minutes while also having the speed to get into good positions.

These conditioning exercises can be done at home, in your local neighbourhood, or at a nearby sports ground. A great addition to your soccer workouts.

Exercise One: Sprint-Backpedal Repeats

As soccer players need to be able to both sprint forward and backpedal into position quickly, this exercise is perfect for practicing both and simulates match situations.

In addition, it increases your explosiveness, speed, and stamina all in one drill.

How To Do It: 

Set up five cones in a straight line around five metres from one another.

Starting at cone one, sprint to the third cone, making sure to pump your knees up to produce force with your weight on the balls of your feet.

You then backpedal until cone two before switching again and sprinting forwards to cone four.

When backpedaling, make sure to keep focused, not trip over, and take quick glances over your shoulder to see where you are.

From cone four, you backpedal again until cone three before finally sprinting forwards once again past cone five to complete the drill.

To vary it up, you can always set cones to either side of the main line so that you have to backpedal or sprint at an angle.

You can also put a ball on each cone and pass it to a teammate or friend when you arrive at each one.

By doing this drill a number of times, you’ll not only increase your speed but also your stamina at the same time.

Exercise Two: Reaction and Acceleration Drill

As we already know, soccer is not just about sprinting and stamina but also about how quickly you can react and change direction.

This drill helps with both of those things while also improving your acceleration, agility, and athleticism.

How To Do It: 

For this drill, you need to set up four cones in a square with one cone right in the middle.

The square should be around twenty by twenty metres.

Starting off at one corner, you sprint towards the middle cone.

As you’re arriving, your friend or coach shouts out either 'straight', 'left', 'right', 'back' at which you sprint to the corresponding cone.

This is meant to test your reactions and ability to accelerate in any direction at just a moment's notice.

To make it more interesting, you can always incorporate a ball into the drill which you have to keep at your feet as you sprint between the cones.

This tests not only your control and concentration but your conditioning and cardio too.

Exercise Three: Stop and Go Sprints

While this exercise can be brutal, it’ll undoubtedly get you ready and raring to go for the soccer season.

By mixing sprints in with recovery runs and jogging, it mimics the pace of a real match and greatly enhances your endurance.

How To Do It: 

All you need for this drill is a full-sized soccer pitch and possibly a friend and ball to keep you motivated!

Starting off at one corner flag, run at fifty percent speed to the halfway line.

Here, you then sprint until the goal line, giving it your all.

You can then slowly jog along the goal line until the opposite side of the pitch, recovering and regaining your breath as you go.

You then run at fifty percent til the halfway line before you sprint to the other side of the pitch.

To make it more fun and to test your concentration and ball control skills, you can always do the drill with a ball at your feet.

This then forces you to keep it under control while sprinting and running about.

Another option is to do the drill with a friend, passing it between yourselves to test your touch, technique, and ball control.

While it’s worthwhile trying to do this for as long as possible, make sure not to push yourself too much and cause injury.

Already doing it a few times will help increase your stamina!

A soccer ball along with weights, red uniforms, water bottle, and other training equipment laid flat on a wooden floor

Soccer Workouts in the Gym

While you don't need the physique of Cristiano Ronaldo to impact and decide tight games, working on your strength, power, and explosivity will help you to become a better player.

By honing your physique and putting on a bit of muscle, you'll be able to hold off opponents and strike the ball farther and more powerfully than before.

In addition to this, spending a bit of time in the gym will help reduce the likelihood of you suffering an injury while also improving your agility, speed, and balance.

Here are a couple of soccer workouts you can do in the gym or at home that will help you maximise your talents out on the pitch.

Workout One: Legs

The stronger your legs are, the more powerful you'll be able to strike the ball and the longer you'll remain fit and fresh out on the pitch.

As such, it’s well worthwhile trying to fit this workout routine into your training regime once a week in between soccer practices or gym sessions.

You can easily do this workout at home, at the gym, or wherever you have space and time.

Exercise One: The Glute Bridge

This exercise works out your glutes and hamstrings and strengthens your lower back and increases your hip mobility at the same time.

How To Do It:

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.

Your arms should be to the side of you with your palms facing down.

You then want to lift your hips off of the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line.

So as not to injure yourself, slowly peel your back off the ground as you raise your hips, squeeze your glutes, and tense your abs; this all relieves the pressure on your back.

Your arms should be lying flat on the floor to give you stability.

Hold the position for a few seconds before easing back down and resting for a moment.

If this is too easy, try doing single-leg glute bridges.

The exercise is done in exactly the same way only this time, one leg is stretched out straight into the air while the other foot is flat on the floor, raising your hips and body by itself.

Aim to do three sets of twenty reps.

Exercise Two: Squats

Squats are a great exercise do to that strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves as well as your buttocks and increases your hip flexibility.

How To Do It: 

To start off, your feet should be slightly wider than hip-width apart.

As you lower yourself into the squat, you want to keep your chest up, tense your abs and push your hips back into a sitting position.

Keep lowering your hips until your thighs are parallel to the ground and your knees are above your toes.

Hold this position for a few seconds before pushing back up to the starting position. 

If this is too easy, you can always add weights to make it harder, either clasping a safe weight to your chest and descending into the squat with it or by holding a weight directly above your head as you do the squat.

Alternatively you could always do a jump squat which involves exactly the same movement as the basic squat, the only difference being that you propel yourself upwards and into the air in between squats. 

Aim to do three sets of fifteen reps.

Exercise Three: Lunges

As well as improving your mobility and stability, lunges also help to strengthen your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

How To Do It:

Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart.

Then take a big step forward and place your foot on the ground in front of you.

You then slowly lower your body until the thigh of the leg you stepped forward with is parallel to the ground.

Your shin and knee should be upright above your toes with the knee of your other leg nearly touching the floor.

To push back up into your starting position, press into your right heel to rise up again.

If this is too easy, then you can always make it tougher by holding dumbells in either hand as you do the lunge.

Another alternative is to do jumping lunges which is when you do exactly the same movement outlined above, but as you push upwards, you explosively jump before landing in a lunge with your other leg.

Aim to three sets with fifteen reps for each leg.

Exercise Four: Calf Raises

This exercise not only strengthens your calves but lowers your risk of injury and improves your stability.

This in turn will help increase the power of your sprints and jumps.

How To Do It:

Stand on a flat surface with your feet hip-width apart.

Slowly lift your heels off of the ground, flexing your calf muscles as you do, raising all of your body straight up into the air.

At the highest point, hold your position for a moment before slowly lowering your heels back to the ground.

To make the exercise more challenging, start with the front of your feet on a step so that your calf muscle has to do more work lifting you up from a lower position.

You can also hold a weight to make the workout harder.

Aim for three sets of fifteen reps.

Workout Two: Upper Body and Core

Although sometimes overlooked by soccer players, upper body exercises are well worth doing as these allow you to hold off opponents easier and so create time and space for yourself out on the pitch.

Strengthening your core is also a good idea as this will help you to improve your balance and stability and refrain from injuring yourself.

These exercises can be done either at home or at the gym and will greatly improve your core and upper body strength.

Exercise One: Push-Ups

You can't go wrong with push-ups as these strengthen your arm and chest muscles, don't need any equipment, and can be done anywhere and anytime.

There are also loads of variations if you want to work out your shoulders or triceps.

How To Do It: 

Start off face-down with your feet together and your hands palms-down, roughly shoulder width apart.

They should be next to your shoulders with your elbows pointed towards your toes.

Your body should be in a straight line with your toes curling upwards and the balls of your feet touching the ground.

Once in this position with your weight being supported by your hands and feet, raise yourself up using your arms.

The correct form should see you using your abs to keep your body in line and straight as you do the push-up.

Once you’ve done this, slowly lower your body back into position before starting another push-up.

You shouldn't let your body touch the ground in between push-ups.

To vary things up and keep things interesting, place your hands wider apart when doing the push-up to work out your chest more.

Alternatively put your hands together, forming a diamond shape, to engage your triceps or put your legs on a step to make the push-up more challenging.

Try and do three sets of twenty reps, adding or decreasing the number as you see fit.

Exercise Two: Dips

This exercise works out your chest, triceps, and abs, greatly strengthening your physique so you can more easily hold off your opponents.

How To Do It: 

Start off by sitting on the edge of a chair or sofa (or use the appropriate equipment if you're in the gym!).

Place both palms of your hand firmly on the seat behind you and extend your legs out in front of you.

After that, lever yourself off of the chair with your hands and dip your body down in front of the chair with your feet remaining on the ground.

Once you’ve gone as low as you can go, tensing your abs as you do so and keeping your elbows and triceps tucked in, bring yourself back up to the starting position before repeating the exercise.

If this is too easy, try and do the dips holding onto the back of two chairs with your legs pulled up below you.

This then increases the weight that your chest and triceps are pushing up each time.

Try and do three sets of twenty reps.

Exercise Three: V-Ups

In addition to strengthening your abs and core, v-ups are great for improving your balance and coordination.

How To Do It:

Start off lying on your back with your arms extended above your head with your legs together and your toes pointing away from you.

As the name indicates, you then want to create a V shape by raising your legs and upper body simultaneously towards each other.

Keeping your legs straight and your toes pointed away from you, you want to lift them and reach towards them with your outstretched arms at the same time.

Once you’ve done this, slowly lower yourself back into the starting position.

If you again want to challenge yourself and make things harder, put your abs to the test by not allowing your feet and legs to touch the ground throughout the set.

Aim to do three sets of twenty reps.

Exercise Four: The Plank

A classic exercise, the plank strengthens your core, improves your stability, and tests your endurance and desire.

How To Do It:

Start off in the plank position, face down with your forearms and toes on the floor. 

To make sure you don't pull anything, your elbows should be directly under your shoulders with your head looking towards the ground.

You should then keep your body in a straight and rigid line, tensing your abs so that your back isn’t arched and your stomach isn’t sagging or bending towards the ground.

Your shoulders should also not be arched but down in a line with the rest of your body.

You should then hold this position, increasing the time as your abs become stronger.

Test to see how long you can do.

If you want to make it harder, you can do a leg lift at the same time.

While keeping the plank position, slowly raise one leg and keep it outraised for a few seconds before returning it to the ground and switching legs.

Conclusion:

So there you have it, six great soccer workouts which will improve your skills, strength, and stamina.

Whether it’s your touch and technique that you want to hone, or your agility and athleticism, by incorporating the above exercises into your weekly routine you can greatly improve as a player in no time at all.

As always, it’s the hard work and dedication that you put in at home, the gym, and on the training ground that determines your performances out on the pitch when it really matters.

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