The Canadian University Soccer season is here, and this year marks my 3rd season as Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks Women’s Varsity Soccer Team. This season, I will be blogging every day with a ‘Tip of the Day’ – a small piece of information about the testing, training, monitoring, or performance analysis I am doing with the team.
Today’s Tip of the Day has to do with aerobic endurance training. While I do like to do a lot of energy system training (both aerobic and anaerobic) with the ball, the reality is that there are some forms of running training that are able to target the aerobic system better than soccer drills or small-sided games. In particular, aerobic interval training is very efficient when carried out with running training, because the workload (volume, and intensity of training) can easily be calculated through time and distance covered, without the use of expensive equipment like GPS. When performing aerobic interval training for soccer players, the work-to-rest ratio (or WRR – ratio of time spent working vs. time spent resting) is of primary importance. If the WRR is too large, players will not receive enough of an aerobic stimulus to produce improvements in performance (they will rest too much). Conversely, if the WRR is too small, the players will get too tired, and thus will not be able to perform the running at a high enough intensity (speed) to produce improvements. In general, I have found that WRR’s ranging from 1:2, 1:1, and 2:1 work best. The time of the work periods can range from a minimum of 15 seconds, to a maximum of 4 minutes. Work periods longer than 4 minutes typically will result in running speeds that are a bit too slow to produce improvements in high intensity running ability on the pitch.
One particular running workout that I like, and which I first participated in as a university varsity player almost 15 years ago, is called “90’s”. The basic premise of “90’s” is as follows:
- Run the perimeter of a regular size soccer field, as fast as possible, but taking no longer than 90 seconds (typically, fit players should be able to cover the distance in approximately 60 seconds)
- Coach has a stopwatch and starts timing the moment players start running
- As soon as the stopwatch reaches 90 seconds, the players must repeat the running interval
- For university players, starting with 3 or 4 repetitions, and progressing to 6-8 repetitions, is an acceptable load
- If the 60-second work period is maintained, “90’s” becomes a running interval workout with a WRR of 2:1 (work for 60 seconds, rest for 30 seconds)
Running “90’s” at the conclusion of a practice as an aerobic interval workout has been a successful strategy for me in many different high performance environments. The workout has just the right intensity and work-to-rest ratio to get good results in a short amount of time. Coaches and fitness coaches should consider using this workout once per week with their teams to help improve aerobic endurance and high intensity running ability.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.