Soccer is a sport that depends greatly on physical fitness and, more specifically, endurance. Individual skills, such as ball handling, are important for the sport, but if a soccer player improves his physical fitness, he will greatly increase his value out on the field. Anyone looking to improve his soccer fitness should be primarily focused on his ability to run at different speeds while maintaining stamina and endurance.
Soccer is a game of constant running. There are two 45 minute halves in a game and, compared to other sports, there is more continuous running and less stoppage of play. When a player is near the ball, he relies heavily on short distance sprinting. When the player, especially a midfielder, is not near the ball, he might have to run a great distance in order to create a play downfield or to catch up with his opponents. These two basic ways to exist in relation to the play, and the two different types of running involved, mean that someone looking to improve his soccer fitness ought to work on improving his level of endurance both with short distance sprinting and continuous distance running.
When a soccer player is looking to improve his soccer fitness in short distance sprinting, there are some key ways to exercise to help. Actually running short sprints can help significantly, and a soccer player ought to run his sprint program as hard as he can. Jump rope exercises and plyometrics, which are a form of training where you jump up and down on boxes of different heights in order to improve your fast twitch muscle tissue, also help greatly in the area of explosiveness and speed in short distance running.
Cardiovascular exercises are the primary way to improve your soccer fitness ability in terms of distance running and endurance for extended periods of time. Distance jogging, preferably over 1 mile (1.6 km), bicycling for several miles (kilometers), swimming, the use of an elliptical machine, or any form of activity where the heart rate is increased for at least a 30 minute period is a great way to train the body to improve stamina and endurance for longer runs. Cardiovascular workouts are also a great way to keep body fat low, which is important if you are trying to improve your soccer fitness.
Soccer fitness is not all about running and cardiovascular workouts, however. While speed, stamina, and endurance are vitally important, strength with weights can greatly help a soccer player's game as well. Upper and lower body exercises featuring many repetitions per set can help improve your stamina and endurance, and will help you avoid putting on too much body mass, which might slow you down out on the soccer field.