Soccer Conditioning Drills Using The ‘RAPS’ Model

Soccer conditioning  – you either love it or you hate it.

One thing’s for certain however – it’s an important area of the game that can’t be ignored.

Soccer Conditioning is the process of improving and developing the body in relation to key health and skill related components so, that a player can not only deal with, but also thrive under the the physical and psychological demands of the game.

It doesn’t matter how good your skills are if you cannot withstand the physical and psycholigcal demands of the game you are going to struggle.

RAPS

After working with countless amounts of teams, players, coaches and implementing things in my own personal training I have developed an easy to use acronym to help you not only remember the key components but understand them too.

Enter RAPS. RAPS involves 4 key components. Here they are;

  • Reactions: Is the ability to respond to a given stimulus quickly eg: A goalkeeper reacting and saving a close range shot
  • Agility: Agility is the ability to change the bodies direction at speed – with control
  • Power: Power refers to the ability to move the body at speed and strength – efficiently. Developing powerful, explosive movements lies in your ability to exert both speed and muscular strength simultaneously
  • Speed: Speed refers to the ability to cover a distance quickly. Speed relies on other components such as acceleration

They are the 4 components you’ll need to keep in mind when planning your soccer conditioning program. While every training session and drill won’t necessarily have all those elements together – your long term soccer training program should at least aim to have some sort of balance between all of them.

With or Without the Ball?

There’s a long running debate on whether your drills should use a ball or not. One side of the argument says that as you’re training for soccer you should use a ball in every drill – the other side of the argument says you can’t get the full benefits of a conditioning program with a ball at your feet.

I say find a balance between the two!

There are times when a player will need all out speed to get back and defend their goal and there will be times when a player will need to keep the ball under control as they whiz past the full back.

So find a balance between the two. A good idea that sometimes works well is to start each drill without the ball and the progress repeating the drill with the ball.

Whatever you do – stop complaining about what should and shouldn’t be done – put the needs of your players first and find a balance between the two

Key Planning Points

Quick Points to Remember

  • Avoid continuous laps of the pitch – this only shows your lack of knowledge and energy
  • Exercises and reps should be performed with maximal effort unless otherwise stated
  • Drills should represent dimensions of a players play – eg, Short burst of speed for wingers or intricate agile movements in small spaces
  • Interval training is one of the best ways to condition the body for soccer
  • For strength and power exercises using a combination of normal bodyweight exercises and plyometric movements
  • For younger players – don’t specialize
  • For older players train for their position ie. A winger will run far more than a central defender for example
  • Side note on age groups: All the sessions below have been used and adapted to work with various age groups – you know your players better than I do. What one 9 year old can do with ease could take a 14 year old a lot longer to grasp. In short; focus on ability and training goals and less on age
  • Keep the intensity of your drills high and plan for adequate recovery time between sets
  • You can reduce the intensity however and use these drills as part of your warm up
  • Be creative there’s nothing stopping your from adding; soccer rebounders to the mix or any other type of soccer equipment

Essential Equipment Needed

For all the drills below you’ll need at least a set of training cones, a ball per player and some pinnies / training vests. If you want to keep it super efficient that’s all you’ll need.

You can replace all the other fitness conditioning equipment and adapt your drills by just using a set of training cones. For a long time, while I was a broke soccer coach this is what I did – and for the most part it worked.

So, a minor disclaimer – you don’t need a massive amount of equipment to setup your conditioning drills.

If however you want to add a bit more realism, variety, engagement and have things look as professional as possible (While keeping your drills super effective) I’d recommend investing in some conditioning equipment. Here’s some to try out for your next training session….

Preview
QuickPlay PRO Agility Poles...
KUYOU Running Speed Training...
GHB Pro Agility Ladder Agility...
QuickPlay PRO Adjustable...
SKLZ Speedsac- Adjustable...
DYNAPRO Medicine Ball |...
Product
QuickPlay PRO Agility Poles
KUYOU Speed Training Resistance Parachute
GHB Pro Agility Ladder
QuickPlay PRO Adjustable Hurdles
SKLZ Speedsac
DYNAPRO Medicine Ball
Benefits
Great for agility exercises and can be doubles up as goals
Super effective to develop acceleration and speed
You'll find these in almost every soccer club. Great to develop intricate footwork at speed
These are adjustable meaning you can progress and regress the challenge
Great for speed and strength training
Fantastic tools to help with strength training - be aware of the age:weight ratio though
Customer Rating
Prime
Price
$49.99
$9.88
$11.99
$32.99
$99.99
from $22.99
Preview
QuickPlay PRO Agility Poles...
Product
QuickPlay PRO Agility Poles
Benefits
Great for agility exercises and can be doubles up as goals
Customer Rating
Prime
Price
$49.99
More Details
Preview
KUYOU Running Speed Training...
Product
KUYOU Speed Training Resistance Parachute
Benefits
Super effective to develop acceleration and speed
Customer Rating
Prime
Price
$9.88
More Details
Preview
GHB Pro Agility Ladder Agility...
Product
GHB Pro Agility Ladder
Benefits
You'll find these in almost every soccer club. Great to develop intricate footwork at speed
Customer Rating
Prime
Price
$11.99
More Details
Preview
QuickPlay PRO Adjustable...
Product
QuickPlay PRO Adjustable Hurdles
Benefits
These are adjustable meaning you can progress and regress the challenge
Customer Rating
Prime
Price
$32.99
More Details
Preview
SKLZ Speedsac- Adjustable...
Product
SKLZ Speedsac
Benefits
Great for speed and strength training
Customer Rating
Prime
Price
$99.99
More Details
Preview
DYNAPRO Medicine Ball |...
Product
DYNAPRO Medicine Ball
Benefits
Fantastic tools to help with strength training - be aware of the age:weight ratio though
Customer Rating
Prime
Price
from $22.99
More Details

Soccer Conditioning Drills

Important Note for Coaches & Players

Each drill below was developed with the coach in mind. They’ve been used and adapted for groups between 3-30 people. That said however, most of them can be adapted and used across both team environments and individual training programs.

I have separated the drills into 2 main categories; with and without the ball. This should help you a little better in navigating through each drill. But as I mentioned above, the drills listed without balls can almost always be easily adapted to include a ball.

Soccer Conditioning Drills With The Ball

Soccer Conditioning Drill #1

4 Goal Agility

[SCD] 4 Goal Agility

Key Coaching Points

Key points to remember...
  • ‘Keep your center of gravity low’
  • ‘Keep the ball close to your feet’
  • ‘Keep your head up’
  • ‘Knock the ball past the defender’
  • ‘Drop your shoulder to try and beat the defender’

Drill Objectives

This drill helps improve and develop...
  • Acceleration
  • Speed
  • Agility
  • …All while attacking with the ball
  • Remember: Keep the drill high tempo, if the ball is dead the next player goes immediately

Drill Details

This drill involves four goals for the attackers to score in and a centered box off area. 1 Set of goals for each team. Each colored cones represents a channel that the attacker must get through in order to score.

The attacker can attack down either side (red or blue) or straight through the middle of them. The defender must stay in the boxed off area and mirror the movements of the attacker.

The attacker can go across the area as many times as he wants in order to try and disguise his movements to beat the defender. If the attacker scores the next player on the opposite side starts

Progressions

  • Progression 1: Start with passive defender then allow defender to become active
  • Progression 2:Attacking player can leave his ball at a cone and continue to try and beat the defender, but the defender must follow the player not the ball

Soccer Conditioning Drill #2
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4v4 Conditioned SSG

[SCD] 4v4 Conditioned SSG

Key Coaching Points

Key points to remember...
  • ‘Get back to the goal line quickly’
  • ‘One touch passes to complete pass ‘objective’ quickly’
  • ‘Get into position to receive and pass the ball’
  • Man Marking: ‘Stay with your man’

Drill Objectives

This drill helps improve and develop...
  • Speed
  • Endurance
  • …In small sided conditioned game

Drill Details

This drill is a conditioned Small Sided Game (SSG).

Start with 4 v 4 and use 2 goalkeepers if you’ve got them. If not use small gates or targets in the goal.

The game starts with each player having a partner from the opposing team. Players are only allowed to defend and tackle the person they have been partnered up with.

When one team loses possession they must sprint back to the goal line before they can win the ball back. Everyone on the opposite team must touch the ball once before they can shoot on goal.

Continue for set time. Winner stays on

Progressions

  • Progression 1: Progress to full game: Continue with rules (Goal line run and passes before scoring) but remove man to man marking

Soccer Conditioning Drill #3
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Boxed In

[SCD] Boxed In

Key Coaching Points

Key points to remember...
  • ‘Get to the cones quick’
  • ‘Stay facing the ball’
  • ‘Complete strength exercises with proper form and technique’
  • ‘Get the ball quick, beat the ‘defender’ and score’

Drill Objectives

This drill helps improve and develop...
  • Strength
  • Speed
  • Agility
  • Power
  • …In multi-directional movement planes

Drill Details

Setup a 5×5 box using 4 different colored cones. On the outside setup a mannequin and a goal.

One player stands in the middle while another player stands on the outside feeding the balls in. When the Feeder calls a color, the player in the middle must sprint/shuffle/side step to that cone, come back into the middle, receive the ball and play it back to the Feeder.

The feeder can play the ball in; to feet, chest, knee high, head high and the player must adapt to the pass and play it back under control.

Progressions

Progressions are endless with this one;

  • Progression 1: Use the mannequin
  • Progression 2: Add some plyometric / bodyweight strength exercises to each cone
  • Progression 3 Have the player run out to the feeder collect the ball and sprint to finish in the goal

Soccer Conditioning Drill #4
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Mannequin Run

[SCD] Mannequin Run

Key Coaching Points

Key points to remember...
  • ‘100% effort to get to the mannequin quick’
  • ‘Side shuffle round mannequins’
  • ‘React to the pass quickly’
  • ‘Play the pass with one touch’

Drill Objectives

This drill helps improve and develop...
  • Acceleration
  • Speed
  • …While receiving the and passing the ball

Drill Details

This drill starts with 3 players and a set of mannequins sets up in a diamond shape. 2 Players starts at the bottom of the diamond while one player (feeder) starts at the top.

  • #1) The player sprints to the outside of the first mannequin
  • #2) They receive a pass from the feeder and play the pass back
  • #3) They now come round the back of the mannequin and sprint to the feeders mannequin
  • #4) The player plays 2 passes either side of the mannequin
  • #5) They sprint back around the next mannequin
  • #6) Again, they receive a pass and play it back
  • #7) Walk back next player goes

Progressions

  • Progression 1: Start with 2 or 3 touch passes and then progress to one touch passes
  • Progression 2: Add additional plyometric and / or bodyweight strength exercises to each mannequin ‘station’

Soccer Conditioning Drill #5
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Conditioning Quad

[SCD] The Conditioning Quad

Key Coaching Points

Key points to remember...
  • ‘Keep your center of gravity low’
  • ‘Keep the ball close to your feet’
  • ‘Keep your head up’
  • ‘Knock the ball past the defender’
  • ‘Drop your shoulder to try and beat the defender’

Drill Objectives

This drill helps improve and develop...
  • Speed
  • Endurance
  • Accuracy
  • Agility

Drill Details

The Conditioning Quad is great drill setup that can work multiple different fitness components at the same time. For this drill to work as it is, you’ll need some additional conditioning equipment. I’d normally have each station running for about 3-5 minutes, rest once all stations have been completed then repeat for 2 or 3 more sets.

Make sure you have at least 2 players to each station.

  • #1) Using different types of equipment, one player completes the circuit while the other player feeds them ball. **Vary the passes**
  • #2) Simple conditioning box where each side represents a different movement
  • #3) Dribble to the pole, leave the ball return back to start position before sprinting back to the ball to continue the same pattern with the next slalom pole. Continues until circuit is finished and next player goes in the opposite direction
  • #4) Head towards the cones, then move to the start of the next station. Example skills and ball work include; toes taps, forward and backwards dribbling etc. Once the player reaches the end they sprint with the back around the edge and back to the beginning to start again

Progressions

  • Progression 1: Stations can be adapted to progress or regress the difficulty

Soccer Conditioning Drills Without The Ball

Soccer Conditioning Drill #6
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Box to Box Shuttles

[SCD] Box to Box Shuttles

Key Coaching Points

Key points to remember...
  • Coaching points per se are pretty few and far between – however, you’ll want to ensure that players are giving 100%. Aim for 3 sets of 10 shuttles (1 shuttle = jog + sprint) but ensure they have adequate recovery time before starting the next set.

Drill Objectives

This drill helps improve and develop...
  • Endurance
  • Speed
  • Strength

Drill Details

Box to Box Shuttles involves using the dimensions of your pitch to create a shuttle type conditioning drill.

The drill starts by lining up all players across the goal-line.

Players jogs to the edge of the 6 yard box and sprint back. They continue in this pattern, each time running to a further away point. [Black Line = Jog / Red Line = Sprint

  • 1) 6 Yard box
  • 2) Penalty Spot
  • 3) 18 Yard Box
  • 4) Edge of Semi Circle
  • 5) Halfway Line
  • 6) Edge of opposite Semi-Circle
  • 7) Opposite 18 Yard Box
  • 8) Opposite Penalty Spot
  • 9) Opposite 6 Yard box
  • 10) Opposite Goal Line

Progressions

  • Regression 1: As a regression: You can reduce the number of sets as part of your warm up.
  • Progression 2:As a progression, you can add in hurdles, slalom poles and create some sort of competition between teams. You can also change the movements to; high knees, side to sides and heel flicks.

Soccer Conditioning Drill #7
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Conditioning Circuit

[SCD] Conditioning Circuit

Key Coaching Points

Key points to remember...
  • 1) ‘Explosive power over the hurdles and through the ladder’, ‘keep center of gravity low between poles’
  • 2) ‘Pump your arms’, ‘perform strength exercises with good technique’
  • 3) [White Players] ‘Perform exercises with muscles engaged’
  • 4) [Red Players] ‘Get down to touch the cones as quickly as possible’, ‘Keep your center of gravity low’
  • 5) ‘Accelerate to the first cone and stop (decelerate) for 2 seconds’

Drill Objectives

This drill helps improve and develop...
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Agility
  • Strength
  • Cardiovascular Fitness and Endurance

Drill Details

This is a conditioning circuit you can use with as many or as little amount of players as you want.

  • 1) Involves using some conditioning equipment such as; hurdles, ladders and poles
  • 2) Box to Box shuttles with strength exercises at the end of each shuttle run
  • 3) Strength exercises; sit ups / bulgarian squats
  • 4) jogging and bending down to touch the cones
  • 5) Accelerate fast towards each cone, when you get to the cone decelerate and stop for 2 seconds then continue to the next cone.

***Perform each station for 2-3 minutes before moving on.

Progressions

  • Progression 1: Increase the amount of sets
  • Progression 2: Introduce ball work

Soccer Conditioning Drill #8
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The Clock

[SCD] The Clock

Key Coaching Points

Key points to remember...
  • ‘Sprint into the center’
  • ‘Jog backwards’
  • ‘When using strength exercises ensure the proper form and technique is used’

Drill Objectives

This drill helps improve and develop...
  • Endurance
  • …In multi-directional movement planes

Drill Details

This easy to setup drill can be used with both multiple players or on an individual level.

Each player starts on the outside of the circle. To start the drill, each player will run to the center of the circle and then shuffle / jog backwards to the next cone.

Progressions

  • Progression 1: Start with normal jogging (forwards and backwards) then progress to side movements.
  • Progression 2: Introduce different bodyweight strength exercises.
  • Progression 3: This is also a drill that would benefit from some ball work

Soccer Conditioning Drill #9
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Tunnel Run

[SCD] Tunnel Run

Key Coaching Points

Key points to remember...
  • ‘Keep your center of gravity low’
  • ‘Pump your arms for speed’

Drill Objectives

This drills helps improve and develop...
  • Acceleration
  • Speed
  • Agility

Drill Details

The aim of this drill is to catch the runner before they reach the end of the tunnel. You’ll need enough cones to layout your tunnel.

Split you groups into two teams and give each team a color. To start the game, one player stands ready at the first bend, the other player (the chaser) starts at the beginning.

On the call ‘GO!’ both player start to sprint through the tunnel. The aim of the drill is for the chaser to catch the other player before they reach the end of the tunnel.

In the example above, the blue player is chasing down the red player.

Once all players have gone, switch roles

Progressions

  • Progression 1: To regress or progress the drill you can change the distances that each player starts at.

Soccer Conditioning Drill #10
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Beat The Defender

[SCD] Beat The Defender

Key Coaching Points

Key points to remember...
  • ‘Keep your center of gravity low’
  • ‘Push off the opposite foot to change direction’
  • ‘Keep an eye on your opponents movements’
  • ‘Accelerate into the space’

Drill Objectives

This drills helps improve and develop...
  • Acceleration
  • Speed
  • Agility

Drill Details

The aim of this drill is; for attackers = To beat the defender with speed and intricate agile movements. For the defender = To tag or catch the attacker

Split your team into 3 groups; 2 teams of attackers and one team of defenders.

The attackers must run through the defenders area trying not to get caught. The defenders must try and either push the defenders out of the area or tag them on the shoulder.

Each team keeps a tally of how many points they score.

Progressions

  • Progression 1: Start with a simple tap on the shoulder as a qualified tag and then progress to using a set of tag belts.
  • Progression 2: You can also open up the space and area to allow for longer sprints
  • Progression 3: You can also set up each area to represent a position / location on the pitch

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