Fitness and Strength Training

The programs below are designed to help coaches and players who want guidance with getting fit for the upcoming season.

They have been created by MWFA Coach Development Manager Eugene Lawrenz, and Sai van Wegen from Manly United FC.

These programs are not “strength and conditioning”, but football fitness and football strength programs, designed to be specific to the sport of football rather than being generic.

They are suitable for teenage players, but especially adult players. Note: junior players who have not yet completed their growth spurt should avoid fitness and strength training programs.

They can be done at home, as extra training on top of regular team training sessions, or in team training sessions where players must maintain a 1.5m distance from each other.



In football players do not run, they press, create space, recover, run with the ball etc. Sprint, endurance and interval training are not as useful to a football player in terms of fitness compared to playing intense football games such as small-sided games (3v3 – 4v4), medium sized games (5v5 – 7v7) and large games (8v8 – 11v11), where the fitness requirements perfectly reflect a real football match.

So what kind of exercises can you do to develop football fitness if you cannot do small, medium or large games? In the video, 4 examples are provided:

  1. First touch drill (players on the outside and in the middle, passing randomly and changing direction with their first touch)
  2. Striking the ball drill (passing in pairs on the move, with the distance, angles, foot being used etc always different)
  3. Running with ball drill (chasing a player with the ball to a line, then transitioning back in the other direction)
  4. 1v1 drill (dribbling through cones, finishing in different goals, collecting a new ball and doing it again)

What is football fitness exactly and how do you use training exercises like the examples above to improve it?

More explosive football actionsHigher speed of every football action (e.g. doing it in 4 seconds instead of 5)
More football actionsMore football actions in a short period of time (e.g. more passes, more runs etc)
Maintain explosive football actionsPlay longer but do not let quality of football actions drop
Maintain more football actionsPlay even longer but not allow the tempo of football actions to slow down

What is the most simple way to explain it?

Always train with intensity to get fitter, but just make sure the players have enough recovery time (better safe than sorry – don’t injure your players by pushing them too far).

Football fitness = football training



Core stability work is valuable for everyone, and football players will appreciate this more if the exercises can include a ball somehow. Otherwise, strength work should be relevant to the sport you train, and football is not like weightlifting or even rugby or marathon running. In football, football actions are about acceleration and deceleration, for example sprinting and stopping, jumping and landing, and several combinations of these. 80-90% of all football actions involve changing direction however, so stopping and then sprinting again.

In the video, functional exercises with a ball show how you can prepare the body for these football strength characteristics. They are also designed to focus on specific core skills.

Stopping to Sprinting (changing direction)First TouchTaking a first touch as you turn
Stopping to Sprinting (changing direction)Running with the BallRunning with the ball then reaction
Stopping to Sprinting (changing direction)Striking the BallStriking the ball after changing direction
Stopping to Sprinting (changing direction)1 v 1Beating a defender 1 v 1 with a skill move
Sprinting then stopping (stopping quickly)AllFinishing on goal within a 2m zone
Jumping (before and after other actions)Striking the BallMostly header based exercises

Note: with the jumping exercises, these are likely less than 5% of all football actions, and should therefore make up less than 5% of football training. The exception is goalkeepers, who may need to work on jumping a lot more to develop football strength for diving, catching etc.

What is the most simple way to explain it?

Football strength = football training