Soccer players require the stamina of a long distance runner
With MLS about to begin a new soccer season, I decided to revisit the similarities between soccer players and runners, specifically the need for athletes in both sports to move for long periods of time without rest. It could be argued that soccer requires more stamina than other team sports because 120 minutes of play, including overtime is common before a shootout decides the winner. By comparison, regular season NHL hockey is 65 minutes, including five minutes of O.T. before the shootout and NBA basketball games are 48 minutes before unlimited mini-halves of overtime – rare in basketball – decide the outcome. MLB baseball, with its superb athletes, does not operate on the clock at all, though a typical nine-inning game takes about two hours and 30 minutes to play, with mega-stops and delays added in. Even the tiring effects of physical contact from football, hockey and basketball don’t balance because of rest time that’s built into the stoppages. Soccer, which has its own share of contact, rarely stops play.
Runners, like soccer players, are challenged by speed and the need for stamina and endurance while training for a marathon, which takes from 125 to 130 minutes for a world class male runner to complete, or roughly the time it takes to play a soccer match.
Soccer players do a lot of sprinting, otherwise they still run constantly. Overall, to be competitive and on top of their game, they need both speed and endurance.
Interval training for marathoners and running drills for soccer players both increases speed. Running downhill is good for runners and soccer players for developing strong quads. Running uphill will increase lung capacity and stamina. When you add strength, focus and mental toughness to the mix, you get a clear picture of what soccer players and runners share every day. All athletes need to stretch every muscle group before and after a workout or match.
As for where the similarities end, soccer players explode for bursts of speed, their balance, their skill around the ball, and their competitiveness for opponents at top flight, all while being able to turn on a dime certainly creates separation from runners. These unique athletes have to be able to multi-task, as their sport takes them up and down the pitch. It’s a sport that is up tempo and uses considerable physical and mental reflexes…and lots and lots of running.
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