Slowly but surely coaches are starting to realize that in order to get the most out of your fitness work and sessions they need to closely resemble the demands of your sport. In regards to soccer this means you must focus on the multi - directional nature of the sport.
A top class player , playing at the highest level while use well over 100 different movement patterns over the course of a single match. Movement patterns include ;
1) change of direction
2) change of speed
3) change of footwork
That is just movement patterns , not the number of times a different movement is performed.
Research has shown that over 450 of the movements which a player performs involve a change in direction of over 120 degrees - that is about 50 percent of all turns made by a player in on match.
This is a clear signal that you must work on conditioning the joints and muscles involved in performing these movement patterns not just for the sake of fitness but also injury prevention.
Players change direction over 11 times per minute , this can put huge strain on the joints and muscles so its important to understand the conditioning needed for the muscles and joints to withstand the demands of soccer. Running in straight lines will not achieve the best results for game situations.
Training should involve turning quickly , dodging , twisting , weaving , jumping and accelerating from stationery and near stationery positions. You can make over 1000 changes of direction in a game.
Exercise intensity during a game ranges from walking to jogging to sprinting. On average 25% of time is spent walking , 37% jogging , 20% sub-maximal running , 11% sprinting and 7% backwards. With this knowledge we can build a fitness program more specific to soccer.