Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine

: 2019  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 78--81

Preseason training program for soccer strikers

Ali Altaweel1, Majed A. Alabbad2,  
1 Department of Physical Therapy, Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Hospital, Urayra, Eastern Province, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Physical Therapy, Medical Rehabilitation Center, Qatif Central Hospital, Qatif, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Majed A. Alabbad
Department of Physical Therapy, Medical Rehabilitation Center, Qatif Central Hospital, Qatif
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Soccer being a high contact sport demands physical ability from athletes to show better performance in training sessions and competition. Every sport requires specific training, likewise soccer training needs to be well designed according to demands required for the sport. The training needs to be organized through a season to help an athlete reach his optimal performance. Many variables should consider in the training program to enhance the performance, such as strength training, endurance training, aerobic and anaerobic training, flexibility training, and fitness training. However, this literature review aimed to discuss and highlight different aspects related to skills which are required for strikers in soccer during the preseason period. Literature suggests that “depending on player position during game, soccer team could cover various distances on field.” Fitness is equally important for all players like midfield player, defender, and striker. A study has shown that the central midfield player covered a high average of around 12 km while the defender covered the smallest distance with 10.6 km and the striker is in between the two players' averages, with 11.25 km. However, the striker is involved in different activities on field such as sprinting, jogging, running, walking, dribbling with the ball, changing direction, shooting the ball, kicking, hitting the ball, passing the ball, tackling, and being tackled. Therefore, the striker needs to focus on lower limb strengthening along with other trainings to perform these activities. In short, understanding the athlete's physical requirements is very essential to design a specific strengthening preseason program which could help the athlete to perform through 90 min of match or training session.

How to cite this article:
Altaweel A, Alabbad MA. Preseason training program for soccer strikers.Saudi J Sports Med 2019;19:78-81

How to cite this URL:
Altaweel A, Alabbad MA. Preseason training program for soccer strikers. Saudi J Sports Med [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Sep 23 ];19:78-81
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Full Text



Playing soccer requires the physical ability to put in effort and the ability to perform the best to score goals and win the competition. The soccer player training must be well designed and organized during the year to help the player reach his maximum performance. Coaches should consider many variables in the training program to influence the performance, such as strengthening training, endurance training, aerobic and nonaerobic training, flexibility training, and fitness training. The training program must not be flat, otherwise the player performance will be sustained at one level and he will not be able to perform at higher levels. The coaches should integrate all the variables of fitness training together and distribute them correctly to give the best results. One of the strategies that have been used to modify the training program in order to help the soccer player reach his peak of performance is periodization.


Periodization is defined as a training program that achieves the peak of performance by strengthening training and accommodation and managing fatigue.[1] The periodization is classified into three main cycles, and each cycle has its own characteristics in training objectives and goals to be achieved. The cycles, as Plisk and Stone[2] suggested, are the macrocycle, which refers to a year, mesocycle which is about a month, and the microcycle which is around a week. The macrocycle includes three different phases. The phases are the preparatory phase, competitive phase, and the transition phase. Each phase is important because when the player has adapted to the training in the phase, he is ready for the next phase requirements and training programs. During all these phases, coaches should design the training program to integrate variables of training such as intensity, volume, frequency, recovery period, and type of exercises to reach the maximum performance.[3] This study will discuss the skills of the striker in a soccer team and the strengthening program that he needs in the preparation phase.

 Skills and Fitness Requirement for Striker

The striker is a very important position in the team. He is the one most likely to score goals than others in the team. He is required to play around 90 min with the highest performance in order to have the most opportunities to score goals. The soccer players cover an average relative distance in a match of around 10 km.[4] The distance covered varies among the team players; it depends on the player position. A study has shown that the central midfield player covered a high average of around 12 km while the defender covered the smallest distance with 10.6 km and the striker is in between the two players' averages, with 11.25 km.[5] For the striker to be able to cover these distances, he should have special physiological characteristics, such as aerobic and anaerobic fitness. The striker engages in a lot of activities during the match, such as sprinting, jogging, running, walking, dribbling with the ball, changing direction, shooting the ball, kicking, hitting the ball, passing the ball, tackling, and being tackled. The striker needs to strengthen the lower limb to do these activities as it will help reduce the occurrence of injury. Besides the strength in the lower limb, the striker needs to have muscle strength in the upper body. This will help the striker to be more stable during contact with the opponent. He will be able to use his upper body to hold off from the opponent, shoot, and throw the ball over his head.[6] All those activities require specific physiological demands and fitness requirements, such as aerobic and nonaerobic training, agility exercises, strengthening muscle, and strengthening endurance.[7]

 Training for Soccer Striker

Aerobic and nonaerobic training

Elite soccer performance gradually increases during the season. Aerobic endurance is very important for the soccer player, so he can play for a full 90 min with a high performance. The improvement in the endurance in a soccer elite player could reach a peak of 95% of the maximal heart rate.[8] The important factor in this improvement is the amount of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 MAX). Many studies have concluded that there is a direct relationship between the distance covered and the player VO2 MAX.[9],[10] Hence, coaches have to give full attention to improving the VO2 MAX of their players by providing endurance training. The effect of giving this kind of training shows the amount of improvement in the distance that can be covered in a match, as it was shown in a study conducted on interval training of 90%–95% maximal heart rate.[11] The players were given 4-by-4-min running at 70% of the maximal heart rate, followed by 3-min rest. After 8 weeks of training twice a week, the VO2 MAX significantly increased from 58.1 ml/kg/min to 64.3 ml/kg/min, which represents 11%, and the distance covered, respectively, increased by 20%.[11] Nonetheless, the study showed a significant increase of 100%. This physiological body adaptation in utilizing the oxygen with those kinds of exercises resulted in the player body performance endurance, so he can last for a longer time with a maximal physical performance.

On the other hand, anaerobic endurance is highly demanding for soccer players. It is used to increase the player's muscle strength and their muscle power.[12] The anaerobic endurance relies on the absence of oxygen. Thus, the anaerobic training uses the exercises that require high intensity and a short period to produce energy, such as sprinting and kicking. After generating an explosive power, it is very important to have enough rest intervals to allow for recovery and to increase the tolerance for the lactic acid. It is recommended to train the players with high-intensity activities and allow time for recovery that will improve both the aerobic and the anaerobic endurance.[13]

Muscle strengthening and endurance

Another important thing in the soccer striker fitness is the muscle strength, muscle endurance, and muscle power. They play an important role in the player's performance – they give him enough support to provide high functional activities such as sprinting, jumping, kicking the ball, and changing direction which requires generating a high power, enough strength, and long periods of endurance. A study[14] examined the effects of squad strengthening and sprinting on the elite soccer player's performance. Seventeen players did a repetition maximum (1RM), squad, and short sprint test (5, 10, and 20 m). Those exercises were completed before and after 6 weeks for 2 times/week in-season with strength training (85%–90% 1RM). The absolute and relative strength increased to 149.3 ± 16.2 kg and 1.96 ± 0.29 kg while they were 125.4 ± 13.8 kg and 1.66 ± 0.24 kg, respectively. Sprinting performance results were significant and increased as follows: 5 m (before = 1.11 ± 0.04 s, after = 1.05 ± 0.05 s), 10 m (before = 1.83 ± 0.05 s, after = 1.78 ± 0.05 s), and 20 m (before = 3.09 ± 0.07 s, after = 3.05 ± 0.05 s). It indicated that the improvement in the short sprints was combined with the significant rise of the squad strength.[14] Moreover, the muscle endurance could be measured by the distance covered during the match. In the middle of the season, the muscle endurance due to specific aerobic exercises increases compared to the beginning of the season.[15] A study was conducted on 18 youth male soccer players to find the improvement in the muscle endurance by the distance covered using aerobic training, by utilizing a specific dribbling track: the Hoff test. After 8 weeks of training, it was reported that the increase in the distance covered in the Hoff test, 10%, was relative to the improvement of the VO2 MAX at 12%.[11]

Agility and plyometric training

Agility training is defined as the player's ability to change his play direction in fast movement while maintaining his balance.[16] The advantage of the agility exercises is enhancing the proprioception and the coordination, so the player dribbles the ball smoothly with high levels of concentration allowing him to get past his opponent easily with full control of his body movement. Thus, coaches should consider applying agility training to the soccer player in order to enhance their performance. For instance, a group of youth soccer players were observed to compare the players' performance. The agility run test performance was the best way to differentiate the elite players from the normal players.[17] Furthermore, the plyometric training is an approach to increase the power and strength. Plyometric exercises, known as high-velocity resistance exercises, contain cycles of stretching followed by shortening of the muscles.[4] In plyometric exercises, the muscle is stretched before it concentrically, resulting in very quick and highly forcible contraction. The movement during the exercises is so fast and required group of muscles working together.[18] The exercise is characterized by minimum time contact to ground and very quick stretching in a shortening cycle which improves the quality of running and could enable a recovery of 60% of mechanical energy.[19]


Physiological adaptation occurs because of physical activities during strengthening training. The performance improvement in the muscle endurance increases the VO2 MAX uptake. As was mentioned previously in this article, the improvement in the distance covered in play depends on the improvement of the VO2 MAX,[11] although physiological adaptation in the VO2 MAX can vary according to the player's position. A study showed that the VO2 MAX for adult male soccer players was about 50–75 mL/kg/min (155–205 mL/kg0.75/min) which was higher compared to the position of the goalkeeper who had a lower VO2 MAX of about 50–55 mL/kg/min (155–160 mL/kg 0.75/min).[20]


Strengthening exercises may influence the body mechanics. It helps with the possibility of changing the hip-knee biomechanics. A study was conducted using three-dimensional video feedback on the hip and knee to investigate the effect of strengthening exercises on lower limbs' biomechanics. Fifty-eight female athletes were distributed into two groups. The first group went through a strengthening training program, and the second group went for no strengthening training. After completing 9 weeks of strengthening, both the groups did a 3 stop-jump task. The results showed that all the participants in the first group had decreased in the vertical ground group and there were increases in the hip, knee flexion, and the hip abduction angles, while in the second group, there was no change. Results showed that the strengthening training provides changes in the knee-hip biomechanics.[21]


Strengthening training improves the muscular characteristics such as power, endurance, flexibility, and body shape. Furthermore, the strengthening gives the player motivation and psychological improvement. Thus, the player can perform high levels with confidence and he will be more able to compete and reach his target.[22] Furthermore, the player has more advantages from the strengthening exercises through having higher levels of self-esteem which motivate the player to perform at a higher level.[23]

 Strengthening Training and Injury Prevention

The strengthening program is designed to provide the player with his fitness requirements. He will be able to perform complex activities in a match, and as the strengthening program enhances the performance, the program has benefits to the player in preventing injuries. For instance, hamstring injuries constitute around 37% of lower limb muscle injuries. The recurrent muscle injuries in elite soccer players were counted at a rate of 16%, which were responsible for 30% of absence time.[24],[25] One study investigated the effects of preseason hamstring strengthening, emphasizing the eccentric loading in the hamstring injury occurrence during the season. Thirty elite players were divided into two groups. The first group received the eccentric loading on the hamstring exercise and it was performed 1–2 times a week for 10 weeks while the other group did not receive it. The results were given after 10 months of observation. The hamstring injury occurrence was remarkably decreased in the trained group (3/15), while the control group had a high occurrence rate (10/15). The result confirms the positive influence of the eccentric loading exercise in preventing injury.[25]


For elite players, participating in soccer requires a lot of physical activities in a match. It requires the player to perform activities such as sprinting fast, changing direction, and tackling. The player has to give a high performance as well as avoiding injury. Understanding the player's fitness requirements is very helpful for coaches to design a proper strengthening preseason program that helps the player play 90 min while decreasing the rate of injury.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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