"Fitness training for football used to involve gruelling cross country runs, but if you just do that you’ll find yourself struggling on the football pitch.
More after the break
You certainly need to build a base of fitness around endurance, and there’s a time and a place for aerobic training, but you also need to focus on your ability to perform repeated sprints.
Remember that game when Gareth Bale – then playing for Tottenham – destroyed Inter Milan’s Maicon in the Champions League? How many metres do you think he covered sprinting? An astonishing 719.
So what exactly do you define as a sprint? It’s a run that’s faster than seven metres per second – that works out at running the 100m in 14 seconds.
If you’re able to perform at a fraction of this level in the amateur game you’ll have a huge advantage over your opponents. Plus, football isn’t played in straight lines; it involves stop-start direction changes.
To help you build your anaerobic fitness and agility I've provided a drill (below) that will challenge you to develop both.
Engage your energy tank
Make a rectangle with four poles. If you have the space, make it 50 yards long (goal-line to halfway line) and 15 yards across. Then position four poles in a zig-zag arrangement at 10m intervals down one of the long sides.
Run the course for four minutes, walking along the halfway and goal-lines for recovery. Work at maximum intensity for the rest of the exercise. See how many laps you can complete in this time. Do this three times.
You can progress this drill in two ways. The simplest and most enjoyable way is to do it with a ball at your feet. You can also add hurdles and ladders to the course to focus more on improving your agility and power.
Want some equipment to go with these drills? Lucozade Sport's Kit-Out Project can help. Visit www.lucozadesport.com/kitoutproject to find out more.