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Circuit training in soccer By Eugene W. Brown, Youth Sports Institute

(courtesy of Michigan University)

This type of training involves participation in a variety of activities in succession. These activities are conducted at various locations (stations) around the soccer field. The team is divided into an equal number of players for each station. When the circuit begins, all players attempt to perform their best at the tasks assigned to each station within a set time. Successive stations should differ in the physical and technical demands they place on the player. For example, an intense leg exercise should not be followed by a dribbling drill. Recovery occurs as the groups rotate, within a specified time interval, to the next station and as subsequent stations differ in their demands.

Appropriate Age and Ability for Using a Training Circuit

Generally, training circuits are inappropriate for players below the age of 14 years. Children under fourteen years have difficulty complying with the organizational requirements of a training circuit and working independently on individual tasks. Also, coaches have difficulty controlling and observing players scattered around the field at various stations. However, if used properly, circuit training can be a valuable component of practice for players below and above 14 years of age.

Training Circuits for Young Children

To use training circuits with young children, the coach must usually recruit, train, and assign parents or other volunteers to be in charge of individual stations. With young children, relatively few stations comprise the training circuit. Instruction and quality, not quantity, of performance are emphasized at each station, with fitness a concomitant benefit. Training circuits for young children provide an opportunity for the instructors to work with small groups and meet individual needs.

Training Circuits for Older Children

For players 14 years of age and older, who have developed an intermediate level of ability and above, fitness with soccer specific activities is generally the emphasis of the training circuit. Training circuits can be regulated to create an exercise overload to enhance cardiovascular and muscular fitness.

In this type of circuit training an exercise over load is produced by:

  • -increasing the number of stations in the circuit,

  • -increasing the number of repetitions or work intensity at one or more stations,

  • -increasing the time for exercise at each station,

  • -increasing the number of times the circuit is completed, and/or

  • -decreasing the recovery period between stations,

The variety of activities that can be included in a circuit provides the opportunity to be flexible in creating different and specific exercise overloads as well as simultaneously enhancing skill.

This article contains an example of a soccer training circuit, that is appropriate for intermediate level players, and a recording form for both field players and goalkeepers (see Figures 1 and 2) These forms can be photocopied and duplicated on the front and back of a 5" x 8" card. Also included in this article is a blank form (see Figure 3) upon which you can write your own training circuit to meet the specific needs of your players

soccer cicuit training

    

Field Player Circuit TrainingóRecording Form

Name:

Date  (mo./day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise/Rest Interval (secs.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stations

Performance Scores

Sit-ups with  the ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall volley  kick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juggling   (head only)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 cone    circle dribble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Push-ups      on the ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juggling       (all body parts)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Punt, sit,      and trap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jumping over the ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Side 2

Figure 1. Example of an eight-station field player training circuit. 

soccer circuit training

Goalkeeper Circuit TrainingóRecording Form

Name:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date      (mo./day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise/Rest Interval (secs.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stations

Performance Scores

Sit-ups with     the ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall volley throw and catch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two hands between the legs toss and catch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side to side shuffle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Push-ups on    the ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arched ball bounce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Punt, sit,         and trap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jumping over  the ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side 2

Figure 2. Example of an eight-station goalkeeper training circuit and recording form on two sides of a 5 x 8 card.

Using a Training Circuit for Physical Conditioning

A training circuit can be implemented one to three times per week during the season. The number of times per week you have your players engage in a training circuit should vary according to the number of games scheduled for a given week and other activities included in your practice. You should not have your players perform a circuit the day before or the day of a game.

The requirements of performance and scoring each station need to be thoroughly explained to the players. Players need to be informed that the correct performance of each station is as important as the number of repetitions. After all the players understand each of the items in the complete circuit, you may have them perform a partial circuit of four or five stations and then increase the number of stations by one on subsequent days of practice until all stations of the training Circuit are performed.

The prescribed time for exercise and for the rest interval, during which the Players write their Scores on their recording forms and rotate from one station to the next, should be controlled to create an exercise overload. The first day the team performs the entire circuit, 30 seconds of exercise and 20 seconds of rest between each station might be appropriate. This results in an eight-station circuit that can be completed in six minutes and 20 seconds. Gradually, the exercise interval should increase and the rest interval should decrease. You will need to judge what is the appropriate exercise/rest interval ratio for your players.

*This is based on Chapter 21 of Youth Soccer-A Complete Handbook edited by Eugene W. Brown. For information about this book visit the Youth Sports Institute web site.

Description for Figure 1.

Station

Description

Sit-ups with the ball

A bent knee sit-up is done with a ball held in the hands. In the upright position, a loop is formed with the arms and ball positioned in front of the shins. The number of sit-ups performed during the exercise interval is the score.

Wall volley kick

A 4' x 8' x 3/4" sheet of plywood is held in place vertically with its longest side in contact with the ground. On each side of the wall, a restraining line is marked on the ground parallel to the wall at a distance of nine feet. This permits two players to perform on a single wall. A ball is kicked and received behind the restraining line. The number of times this is successfully completed during the exercise interval is the score. You may specify the type of kick, whether the ball must be trapped before kicking it again, and the foot to be used.

Juggling (head only)

The number of times the ball is juggled with the head during the exercise interval is the score. Scoring could be changed to count only the greatest number of juggles in a row without a miss.

12 cone circle dribble

Twelve cones are equally spaced around the center circle. A zig-zag path is dribbled. The number of cones passed during the exercise interval is the score.

Push-ups on the ball

A push-up position is taken with the hands on the ball and the feet on the ground. The number of push-ups performed during the exercise interval is the score. This activity can be modified to meet the needs of the players with relatively weak arm strength by having them perform the push-up by supporting their weight on their hands and knees.

Juggling (all body parts)

The number of times the ball is juggled with all body parts, except the arms and hands, during the exercise interval is the score. Scoring could be changed to count only the greatest number of juggles in a row without a miss.

Punt, sit, and trap

A player must punt the ball into the air, sit down on the ground, stand up, and make a first-time trap of the ball. The number of successful first-time traps is the score. The difficulty of this station can be increased by substituting a forward or backward roll for the sit.

Jumping over the ball

A player jumps from side to side over a ball on the ground. The number of times this activity is completed is the score. The drill can be made to be more demanding by requiring the players to keep their hands on their hips. The activity can also be modified to a forward backward jump over the ball. In this case, the feet must be kept together and not allowed to straddle and go around the ball.

Description for Figure 2.

Station

Description

Sit-ups with the ball

See description for field player circuit (Figure 1).

Wall volley throw and catch

A sheet of plywood is used as in the wall volley kick described in the circuit for field players. The ball must be thrown and caught behind the restraining line. The number of times this is successfully completed during the exercise interval is the score. You may specify the type of throw (underhand bowled ball, sling throw, baseball throw) and the type of catch. The drill could also be modified by substituting a drop kick for the throw.

Two hands between the legs toss and catch

With both hands between the legs, the ball is tossed upward and forward over the head. The goalkeeper must then catch the ball in front of the body before it strikes the ground. The number of successful completions of this activity during the exercise interval is the score. To increase the difficulty of this station, the goalkeepers can be instructed to perform additional activities between the toss and catch (e.g., clap the hands together a set number of times, kneel down and then stand up, turn completely around).

Side to side shuffle

The goalkeeper stands in a ready position facing the field of play with one hand touching a goal post. The goalkeeper then shuffles his/per feet without crossing the legs, and proceeds to touch the opposite post. This process is repeated, back and forth, while the goalkeeper continues to face the field of play The number of times the goalkeeper crosses the goal mouth and touches the opposite post during the exercise interval is the score. Note that only one goalkeeper should be in a group. Therefore, more than one set of goal posts will not be needed.

Push- ups on the ball

See description for field player circuit (Figure 1).

Arched ball bounce

From a prone position on the ground, the back is arched so the knees, feet, head, shoulders, and elbows are off the ground. While maintaining that position, the ball is repeatedly bounced on the ground with both hands. The number of bounces performed, while in the correct body position, during the exercise interval is the score.

Punt, sit, and catch

A player must punt the ball into the air, sit down on the ground, stand up, and catch the ball. The number of successful performances of this routine during the exercise interval is the score. The difficulty of this station can be increased by substituting a forward or backward roll for the sit.

Jumping over the ball

See description for field player circuit (Figure 1).

 

Circuit TrainingóRecording Form

Name:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date      (mo./day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise/Rest Interval (secs.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stations

Performance Scores

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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