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Jaime is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Expert, Certified Water Aerobics Inctructor, and Certified Spinning Instructor. In addition to having written for numerous websites, she’s a competitive bodybuilder who currently trains clients out of Adrenalin Fitness in Toronto, Canada.
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Get Fit like a Soccer Player

by: Jaime Filer

It’s already played in every country and is still one of the fastest growing and most popular sports in the world. Its current celebrity figurehead is David Beckham (formerly Pele). The ball's circumference is 27-28 inches. It is made of leather or rubber. Some people consider it fast paced, others unbearably slow, while still others would rather be watching basketball. Some people call it football and some people (Americans) call it soccer.

Regardless of how you feel about soccer or what you call it, there’s no denying that you have to be in PEAK physical condition to play; no matter if you’re playing recreationally or competitively, at an amateur or a professional level. Soccer players are among the fittest athletes in all sports. With that said, have you ever watched a soccer game and wondered how the players seem to run for 90 minutes on end?  Granted they’re elite level athletes, and have probably been playing the sport since they were in utero, but regardless, that’s a lot of mileage they cover in each game. So if you want to be as fit as a soccer player, you're going to need to put in a lot of miles - but how many?

Researchers have taken the guesswork out of that question for you and set out on a mission to find answers for three different objectives:

  1. Quantify the total distance crossed by soccer players during different competition matches.
  2. Differentiate those distances - between the positions in field (defense, midfielder, and forward)
  3. Compare the distance measures in this category with those registered in first class soccer Spanish players (Spanish League and European Championship League)
To get their results, researchers put a GPS tracking system on 10 players, and tracked them throughout 14 games. The average distance completed by all players without differentiating the position was 8902.53 +/- 250.4 meters. When this was broken down by position and caliber of competition, they saw that college midfielders completed 9271.34 +/- 130.99m (Pro level  = 12008.5 +/- 776) , defense players ran 8565.6 +/- 309.5 (Pro level = 11405.3 +/-893) and forwards completed 8870.6 +/- 871.0m (Pro level = 11254 +/- 894). To put this into perspective, here are the values for an average sized soccer field:

•   International match minimum length: 110 yards (100 meters)
•   International match maximum length: 120 yards (110 meters)
•   International match minimum width: 70 yards (64 meters)
•   International match maximum width: 80 yards (75 meters)

That means that the MOST active college soccer player, the midfielder, runs the length of approximately 92 soccer fields (120 for a Pro), while the least active college player (relatively speaking) is the defenseman, who runs 85 soccer fields (114 for a Pro). Over 90 minutes of play, this means these guys are running about 1km per ten minutes - not that bad when you average it out, but brutal when you consider that much of it is done at a very high pace and with interspersed speed and direction changes. 

Keep this in mind if you coach or play soccer, because it demonstrates that you’ll have to pay greater attention to conditioning your midfielder than you will your defensemen (though all players should still have an impeccable base level of cardiovascular fitness). And if you're just looking to get in shape like a soccer player, or maybe show off the same low body fat levels they have, you've got a lot of running ahead of you.