Football Training Tips: How to improve your fitness

Posted on 08-02-2023 at 16:36 by James H.

Fitness is an important part of a footballer's overall development, combined with regular training sessions and drills.

Football fitness may be considered different to other types of sport as individuals will require a certain level of strength, endurance and ability to be able to complete a full 90 minute game. 

Adults and children who play football will be at different stages of their development due to their physical capabilities and overall conditioning. 

The demands of football can be quite heavy and therefore, we want to reduce any chances of injuries, especially for younger footballers to ensure they have a long and healthy playing career. 

In this article, we will cover:

  • Importance of football fitness
  • Types of training methods
  • Nutritional advice
  • Injury prevention & recovery advice

Why is fitness important for football?

Fitness is a word that we associate within football but we are more focused on the love of playing rather than the behind the scenes work that goes into it. 

To put it simply, there are many reasons why fitness in football is important. We’ve picked a few of our top ones that will resonate with individuals the most. 

This has been split into adults and youth players, but there is likely to be some overlap. 

Importance of Football Fitness for Adults

  • Develops endurance, strength, speed and agility
  • Strengthens muscles to reduce chances of injury
  • Potential to improve playing performance

Importance of Football Fitness for Children

  • Develop physical fitness such as endurance, speed and agility 
  • Reduces chances of injuries
  • Improve skills through kicking, jumping, throwing and catching
  • Build confidence and self-esteem
  • Build mental resilience 

No doubt there are many other reasons that showcase the importance of football fitness but these are just some we’ve picked out from the experience and expertise of our highly qualified coaches.

Cardio Training in Football

Cardio is the first thing you’d think about when it comes to the word ‘fitness’ in football so there is no better way to start this than with the obvious. 

Footballers also refer to this training as ‘Endurance’ as they spend the majority of their time running around the pitch to retrieve the ball and help their team win the game. 

Football is a high intensity sport and players will need good stamina to compete within the game to sustain their performance levels at all times. 

Below you will find three of our best exercises for adult and young football players: 

Interval Training

Interval training involves combining periods of low and high intensity work for footballers or any other athlete for that matter.

It’s a conditioning method which pushes your body to its full capacity followed by a rest period in between. 

We’ve provided an example of an interval training plan that you can replicate and adjust depending on your level of training. 

  • Warm up: 5 minutes of jogging followed by dynamic or static stretches 
  • High-intensity interval training: 5 minutes of 50% sprint capacity around the white lines of the football pitch. Followed by 2 minutes of a slow jog.
  • Repeat this 8-10 times increasing your intensity after every 5 minutes.
  • Cool down: 5 minutes of slow jogging gradually reducing the intensity to walking pace. 

Interval training provides a numerous benefits to your game such as:

  • Improving longevity and endurance
  • Potential to lead to better all round performance
  • Motivation and self development

We recommend consulting an experienced coach who can help you tailor your training to the goals you want to achieve

Hill Running

Another example of great cardio training is hill running. It’s particularly useful for pre-season drills but can be incorporated into your day to day training. 

Hills are already challenging at the best of times but including sprinting and you're really going to feel the burn!

Hill running has great benefits that can be translated into your game, such as strengthening your leg muscles. 

The hill is the perfect resistance for you to push your body and improve a players explosiveness when on the pitch. 

Not to mention, the improvements of your stamina which will come over time as and when you increase the number of sprints, combined with a limited recovery period. 

Whilst hill running has great cardiovascular benefits it can also be important for your mental strength.

The daunting incline can be a battle and thus enable you to set goals on how you plan to overcome the challenge. 

We’ve created a small hill running plan that you can add to your workout: 

Week 1:

  • Warm up: 5-10 minutes of small walk/ slow jog up the hill. 
  • Static stretching to loosen the muscles and ensure you’re ready to start. 
  • Hill repeats: Find a hill with a small incline and run up it 5 times for 1 set. 
  • You should have an intensity of 40% to start and jog down to the bottom for recovery. 
  • Rest for 30 to 60 seconds. 
  • Complete 5 sets of 5 hill reps
  • Cool down: 5-10 of walking up the hill and back down. 
  • Finish off with stretching to reduce injury

This is week 1 of a 6 week training plan where we recommend slowly increasing the intensity levels. 

This can be gently incorporated into a footballers fitness routine based on a player's individual goals. 

Strength Training in Football

Strength training is important for footballers to build muscles particularly in their legs. 

Footballers will focus on all body parts but pay attention to what will help their overall performance. 

For example, leg workouts will be crucial to strengthen muscles and joints to avoid injury. There are various types of exercises that can be performed such as leg press, leg extensions and leg curls. 

Having stronger legs can help with kicking the ball further which is ideal for improving your passing and shooting. 

Adults in particular can utilise compound exercises within their strength routine such as squats and deadlifts. 

This helps to work multiple muscle groups such as glutes and hamstrings, both of which can impact your playing ability. 

We err on the side of caution with compound lifts due to the risk of injury and damage to your muscles. Do not lift heavy without a trained coach or friend to help you. 

In addition, strength training is great for intercepting the ball if you require your shoulders especially when contesting the ball with the opposition.  

Strength training can also support your agility, giving you more power & flexibility to jump and win the ball. 

Another term for this plyometric training which consists of using exercises like jumping to build your strength and power when jumping for the ball. 

It works well with strength training, aiding performance, muscle growth and preventing injury. 

Can Nutrition help with your fitness in football?

Nutrition is the fuel that allows your body to perform at its highest level. Football coaches advocate their players to be mindful of what goes into their body to ensure they’re able to hit peak performance during a game. 

Whilst a well balanced diet is very much encouraged, elite football players take on a high carbohydrate diet as this macronutrient is a great source of energy especially when training and playing. 

Good examples include pasta and rice because they’re seen as slow releasing carbohydrates, meaning you’ll have more sustained energy whilst limiting chances of fatigue. 

That being said, we should not neglect proteins, fats and general hydration as they’re all essential. Protein sources like chicken & fish are great for repairing your muscles after a long session. 

Similarly, fats play their own role too, but healthy ones that contain essential nutrients which are great for reducing fatigue. 

Professional football clubs are relatively strict with their players as any weight gain can impact performance. Remember, these are elite athletes and have a team of professionals behind them. 

Overall, diet is important within football and is directly related to your performance. We advise speaking to a professional nutritionist who can assist you with the correct diet for your game. 

Best tips & practices for Injury Prevention

Injuries happen all the time in football which can shorten a players career depending on the type of injury. 

If it happens early on, it could impact the progress you want to make in the future. 

Therefore, we have provided our top three tips to reduce your chances of injury and help with recovery after a football session or game.

Warm up & Cool down stretching

It’s true stretching before and after a session/game can help tremendously. 

Warming your muscles up helps to get the blood flowing to them so that you’re able to start jogging/running with little to no aches and pains. 

Cooling down, you want to stretch your muscles out and slowly bring your heart rate to normal after competing. 

This is to limit fatigue, aches and pains during the following days. 


Hydration is crucial before, during and post football session because the fluids you release after excess sweating, will require you to rehydrate your body. 

It also reduces the chances of cramp occurring as you will be able to get the necessary nutrients to your muscles to aid their functioning.


Sleep is a fundamental factor that can aid and speed up your recovery. 

It helps to repair your muscles and limit the aches and pains you may experience the next few days.

Sleep can also play a big role in your performance because if you’re able to recover faster, you can play with less fatigue and potentially play better as a result. 

Elite athletes typically get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night which is recommended by all football coaches. 

This combined with hydration & stretching will help to increase the longevity of your playing career. 

Private Football Training at Coachability

At Coachability, we provide bespoke private football training sessions for both adults and children looking to develop their skills and become the best player they can be. 

We have a range of highly qualified football coaches across the UK that you can book a session with. 

We have a number of coaches who’ve taught at the academy level among some of the biggest clubs around. Find a football coach near you today!


You may be interested in reading