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6 Top Conditioning Workouts for Soccer Players



Many soccer players like to improve their soccer fitness by doing conditioning workouts. “Conditioning” means preparing the body to perform with stamina and endurance through an entire game. 

Compared to strength training (push-ups, squats, etc.), conditioning exercises are geared more toward cardiovascular workouts and respiratory training.

When you improve cardio health and related physical fitness, your stamina and confidence can increase too. Higher stamina and confidence means better performance during soccer games and a more enjoyable experience over all!

Conditioning your body means you’ll have the endurance to run around for an entire 90-minute soccer game without feeling so depleted, and it will probably help you feel more optimistic about your performance too. 

Begin your journey to greater physical fitness by learning about the six top conditioning workouts explained below. Form good habits with these popular soccer training exercises, and get your body — and mind — conditioned for some serious soccer play.

soccer warmup routine

Start with a soccer conditioning warmup routine

Warmups are an important start to a successful conditioning workout routine. Proper warmups help prevent injury, and they allow you to better prepare you body for the intensity of your soccer workout.

A few of the best warmups for soccer players include dynamic stretches, high knees drills, crunches, and lunges, and these warmup exercises can be done in repetitions. They will help speed up the heart rate while preparing the muscles to perform more intense exercise later on. 

6 Soccer conditioning workouts

The best soccer conditioning workouts include a variety of cardio-focused drills that help players develop soccer skills. 

We’ve gone into detail here about how to perform six of the best conditioning workouts for soccer players and teams, both on-the-ball and off-the-ball.

1. Shuttle run drills

Shuttle run drills (also called yo-yo’s) are great for developing agility and speed in soccer. You can set up various forms of the shuttle run — but basically, the drill involves running from the starting line to the first cone and back as quickly as possible and then switching back the other way again to run to a farther cone.

Because they require the player to constantly change direction, stop and go, and run as fast as possible, shuttle runs are known as one of the most intense soccer conditioning drills. They encourage players to develop agility, speed, acceleration, and deceleration.

Shuttle run drills are a great anaerobic exercise for soccer players. Anaerobic here means that the exercise won’t work out your heart with long intervals of cardio activity. Instead, it involves short, intense activity that uses up your body’s sugar stores for energy rather than putting any strain on your heart.

Equipment and setup

Shuttle runs require at least three cones, but preferably four to six cones per player. Use one cone to mark the starting point, and place the other cones in a straight line the desired distance away from the starting cone.


  1. The player begins by standing at the starting cone.
  2. At the go, the player will run as fast as they can toward the first cone.
  3. When they reach the closest cone, they will turn around and run back to the starting cone.
  4. At the starting cone, they will turn around again and run toward the second cone in line.
  5. The player will continue running in this pattern until they reach the furthest cone in line.

2. 50/50 lap runs

Lap runs are a classic aerobic soccer drill that help with conditioning the cardiovascular system. Performing a lap run is self-explanatory. You can use the perimeter of a soccer field to measure your laps. Laps are great not only for exercising your heart but also for developing proper running form.

The 50/50 lap run means that as you run around the field, you sprint for one half of a sideline and jog for the other half. You continue alternating between sprinting then jogging around the field for as many laps as your drill calls for.

You can run these laps without a soccer ball or even while dribbling. Running faster with the ball will help improve your form on game day.

Equipment and setup

You only need a soccer field or other large running space to practice 50/50 lap runs. Add a soccer ball to the drill if you want to practice your dribbling while you sprint or jog.


  1. Start at one corner of the field and sprint along the sideline until you reach the center of the sideline.
  2. At the center point, slow down and jog the second half of the sideline toward the opposite corner of the field.
  3. Once you reach the corner, turn to continue along the goal line, switching to a sprint all the way along this end.
  4. When you get to the other corner, turn again to follow the other sideline, switching to a jog for the first half.
  5. At the halfway point along the sideline, speed up to a sprint until reaching the corner.
  6. At the final corner, slow down and jog the length of the last goal line.

3. Tic-tac-toe sprints

Tic-tac-toe sprints are a popular youth soccer drill that combines fun competition with quick decision-making and speed.

It’s the classic tic-tac-toe game turned into a giant-sized team-based competition, tweaked to develop physical fitness.

Each team runs in a relay, placing pinnies on the tic-tac-toe board as fast as possible to get three pinnies in a row before the other team does. 

Equipment and setup

Players need to be divided into an even number of teams. Pairs of two teams each will need to play tic-tac-toe against each other. Each team can have two to four players.

For every pair of teams, create an outdoor-sized tic-tac-toe board on the field. You can use sticks or cones to mark out the grid.

Place cones to mark two separate starting lines, one for each team, about 30 yards away from the tic-tac-toe board.

Give three colored pinnies or cones to the first three players in each team. Remember to designate two different pinnie colors for opposing teams so their moves can be told apart.


  1. Each team lines up single-file behind their starting cone, with the first three players in line holding their team’s pinnies.
  2. When the coach signals, the first player for each team sprints at full speed to the tic-tac-toe board and places their pinnie in one of the grid places, then immediately sprints back to the line to tag the hand of their next teammate. (You could require players to backpedal at this stage for a more complex conditioning drill.)
  3. As soon as the second player in line gets tagged, they can take off sprinting toward the tic-tac-toe board to place their pinnie, then turn around and sprint back to tag the third teammate’s hand.
  4. The third teammate sprints to the board to place the final pinnie.
  5. If either team wins the game when placing their third pinnie by completing a three-in-a-row, then the game is finished.
  6. If all pinnies for both teams have been placed but no three-in-a-row is created, the game continues with the third player tagging the next teammate’s hand.
  7. The next teammate, out of pinnies, sprints to the board and is allowed to move a single pinnie of their own color to an open space on the board.
  8. Players continue moving their pinnies around until one team gets three in a row.

4. Step jump drills

Running and kicking may steal the show during soccer games, but jumping has an important place too. Goalkeepers in particular need to practice jumping high and wide to block goals. Other players need great jumping skills to try stealing the ball or even to maneuver around other players on the field.

Step jump drills, also known as cone jumps or lateral jumps, are a popular exercise for soccer players, especially for plyometric training. Plyometric means you’re exercising in short bursts of action.

When you do step jumps, you’ll jump back and forth over a short object without stopping to rest. These plyometric step jump drills are great aerobic exercises to develop your leg strength, balance, and overall jumping ability. The exercise can also be a good cardioworkout, depending on how fast and long you practice.

Equipment and setup

Place a short object in the middle of your workout space. This can be a cone, small hurdle, box, or other object you can hop over.


  1. Stand to one side of the object.
  2. Jump laterally over the object.
  3. Turn around and jump again back over the object.
  4. Continue jumping back and forth for a full set.

You can practice this drill by jumping with both legs or only a single leg.

5. Ladder running drills

Ladder drills can be simple or complex, depending on how you run them. But overall, they help players practice coordination, balance, and speed, while working out the cardiovascular system too. These drills are a popular way to condition soccer players for physical fitness and to encourage good footwork fundamentals.

Equipment and setup

You need a training ladder to run a ladder drill. Lay it out on the field for setup.


  1. Start running at one end of the ladder, placing one foot in each space between the rungs.
  2. Focus on placing each foot inside the rungs, trying not to touch the ladder.
  3. Run the length of the ladder multiple times until you’ve completed a full set, speeding up as you go.

Two standard variations of the ladder run include either placing one foot between the rungs or placing both feet. Each practice improves lightness on your feet and works out the heart as you run the drill, picking up speed as you go.

6. Fartlek run drills

"Fartlek" is a Swedish word for “speed play.” Fartlek practices involve running at different speeds at sporadic intervals. These drills help soccer players practice switching speeds at random, just like they’ll have to during real soccer games. In real games, after all, the ball speeds up and slows down as it travels across the field.

Fartlek runs can be practiced in a variety of ways. The basic concept is to keep moving for a certain duration, and your time spent running is broken up into different phases of higher and lower speeds. This interval training process involves high-intensity cardio while mimicking the way you’ll have to run during soccer games.

Equipment and setup

Use five cones to mark a straight line. Place the cones 10 to 30 yards apart, creating long distances to run from cone to cone.


  1. The player begins by standing at the first cone in the series.
  2. They walk swiftly to the second cone.
  3. Upon reaching the second cone, the player speeds up and jogs toward the third cone.
  4. At the third cone, the player will speed up again and sprint toward the fourth cone.
  5. At the fourth cone, they’ll slow down and jog toward the fifth cone.
  6. At the fifth cone, they’ll turn around and walk along the cones back to the starting point.
  7. Repeat this process using the same pattern — walk, jog, sprint, jog, walk — or any other pattern you like.

End your soccer conditioning with a stretching routine

An effective soccer training program should always end with static stretches that help your body cool down while your muscles relax. 

Soccer specific stretches that can help you wind down after an intense conditioning workout usually aim to stretch the leg and hip muscles. You’ll want to stretch the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes among other groups. Include full-body stretches too so you’re not neglecting the upper body.