By: Callie Hemming (Former D1 Soccer Player, DePaul University)
Those four words every athlete dreads hearing. They are the four words you have nightmares about, and at times, they are the reason you are just not in the mood to practice.
“Get on the line!” Instantly, people’s body language show defeat and quiet groans are let out. You instantly wish to fast forward the next few minutes and you start making deals with yourself, “If you just let me make these times, I will never ___ again.”
After playing soccer for 18 years, I will tell you one thing. Those feelings never really go away. There will always be a tiny part inside of you just waiting for that moment at training when those words are said, but the real test is whether or not you will let it defeat you. Fitness is a part of nearly every sport, and you just happened to pick a sport where running is a HUGE part of it. During a typical 90 minute soccer game, on average you are running anywhere from 4-9 miles, unless of course you chose to be a goalie, where in that case you are blessed with getting the ball kicked at your face for 90 minutes.
90 minutes of soccer, heading into overtime…the team that can typically pull off the win is whichever team has enough mental toughness to grind out the extra few minutes of running. And that is what fitness is: mental toughness. Your legs are telling you that they can’t move anymore, but let’s be honest here, you will survive it and your legs can do it, you just have to tell yourself you can. So what’s the trick? How do you make it so you don’t physically die during fitness? How do you make it so you aren’t dreading those words? Unfortunately there really isn’t any trick, except training your body. The “trick” is to run on your own. Be the fittest person so that when that time comes for your coach to yell those four words, you don’t care because you know that the extra work you are putting in, will make these next few minutes a breeze.
Below I have listed a couple running tests that are fairly typical in the world of college soccer. Yes, there will be fitness testing GUARANTEED on your first days of pre season at college. NOTE: These times are typical for girls, not guys. Guys can do the same tests, but shave off a few seconds of every time. On both of these tests, it will be very helpful to have someone timing you, telling when to start and yelling out the time you’re at.
300 yd Shuttles-Now, this test may seem easy, but the turns are what slow your time down. Once you figure out the timing of your turns, and manage your times, you will notice your agility, speed, and endurance improving immensely!
Start on the end line of a field, and measure out 25 yards and place a cone there.
You will then run back and forth to that cone from the starting point, 6 times. There and back being 1. The time you will want to finish in is 60 seconds. You then have a two minute break until the next shuttle. Repeat this 300 yard shuttle 2 more times, keeping your time at 60 seconds. This equals a total of 3 shuttles, with a 2 minute break between each shuttle. (You will feel the burn in your hips)
120’s-Very typical fitness test used in many collegiate soccer programs. 120 yds is a typical soccer field, but make sure to measure out to see the length of the field.
The player must run 120 yards in 18 seconds, (running to the other side of the field)
They then have the remaining minute (42 seconds) to run back to the starting point.
This is then repeated 10 times.
After the 4th and 7th run, you get an extra 20 second rest.
Keep in mind, fitness is an integral part of the game of soccer, and college coaches typically are looking for players who are fit among other things. Coaches do notice players in the 89th minute when they are still able to outrun their opponents and still able to go 100%.
If you are already going to play collegiate soccer and have signed your National Letter of Intent, coaches will send you a fitness packet before the summer starts. Inside this packet gives the fitness tests that will be conducted upon arrival as well as a training schedule to stay in shape for the summer.
So, after you have signed to go play college soccer, after you have met your teammates, settled into your dorm room, and received all your new soccer gear, and you hear those four dreadful words at your first training, turn these words into a challenge, challenging yourself to be the fittest you can be, knowing it will give you that extra edge against your opponents.