Soccer Fitness: Guest Post by Ashleigh Townsend

4 min read
Ashleigh Townsend is an former FirstPoint USA client, who secured a soccer scholarship in 2003 to the University of the Cumberlands. Since college, Ashleigh has had great success, playing professionally in the U.S for Cincinnati Kings, Wilmington Hammerheads and Real Maryland Monarchs. Ashleigh also runs a successful fitness blog, definitely worth a read for anyone interested in healthy living and upping their fitness levels! Given Ashleigh's athletic experience, we thought it would be great to get his advice on all things fitness. In his first monthly guest blog post, Ashleigh covers the expected fitness levels of soccer players... Soccer Fitness What all soccer players need Soccer is a sport that requires high levels of focus, concentration and skill along with a high level of physical fitness. The demands of the game can be tough on the mind. To stay ahead of the game and keep the mind working to the high levels required personal physical fitness must be at its highest to ensure that you are giving your all to the team. So what are the components of Physical Fitness? In total there are 8 major components to physical fitness and it is vital that soccer players have a good understanding and ability with all 8. 1. Cardiovascular Endurance The ability of the heart to deliver oxygenated blood to the working muscles and their ability to use it efficiently. 2. Strength Endurance The ability of a muscle or group of muscles to contract maximally over and over again. eg. explosive jumping for a header time and again throughout a game. 3. Muscular Strength To what extent the muscles can exert force against any form of resistance (weights, or an opposing player in a game situation) 4. Power The bodies ability to exert maximum force and muscular contractions quickly, instantly and in explosive movements. Strength and speed are big parts of power. (sprinting, jumping) 5. Agility The ability to perform a series of explosive movements at speed, under control and in multi directions. Changing direction quickly and sprinting. 6. Balance Control of the body while either in a static position, or in movement. Balance while moving the body through different planes of motion. 7. Co-ordination Ability to put together multi-directional movements and skills fluidly and efficiently. 8. Flexibility Range of Motion (R.O.M) the ability of a joint to move through its full R.O.M. Will aid in creating more power. Of course on top of this list of 8 FITNESS components,there are two more vital components to being a complete player. Possessing the TECHNICAL skills specific to soccer, i.e. passing, dribbling, heading, shooting etc. The other is TACTICAL knowledge,
the ability to understand and perform team/individual strategies, positioning (with and without the ball), formation, knowing what to do when in possession. Soccer players are the ultimate well rounded athletes.   How has the development of fitness in soccer created well rounded athletes? Looking at the top athletes in soccer today, and I say athletes because that is the level they have attained ,and what each aspiring player must aim to emulate in order to reach the top of the game. Developments in sports science and training methods have enabled soccers elite, the likes of David Beckham, Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to excel to new heights in the game, along with their hard work, desire and technical skill. Coaches and sports scientists at clubs these days have the finest equipment at their disposal to track such things as: heart rate blood pressure body temperature distance traveled speed of runs passes completed and much much more For the likes of Beckham, Messi and Ronaldo and other top players there is no hiding on the field either at training or in a game situation or now even in the gym. Coaches have the technology to know what each players top fitness levels are and if they are not working to that level it shows not only in training/games but also now on a computer/smartphone screen to reiterate that player can do more. This has created finely tuned athletes at the top but I also believe that this has pushed players lower down the ladder to improve and keep up on fitness terms. Although the average player will never get the opportunity to use this equipment, the equipment doesnt make the athlete/player better .There is only one person that can do this. THIS IS YOU. Through hard work, desire, dedication and living a healthy lifestyle. TRAIN HARD. EAT RIGHT. LIVE WELL.  

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