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How to increase your stamina in soccer

updated on October 11th 2023

10 mins read

Regardless how great of a player you are, if your stamina / endurance is poor, your performance will deteriorate the longer the match goes on! 


And it’s one of those basic things in football that you just need to have in order to be considered by coaches & scouts in higher levels. 


But don’t worry! This article gives you all the tips and exercises you need to build a stamina that makes everyone on and off the pitch wonder how you’re still running like that at the 90th minute! 

The Basics

To start building your stamina you don’t need any fancy, complicated exercises. To kick off your soccer stamina training just begin with the most basic exercise: running / jogging. 


I know what you might have heard: “Jogging is not the best way for increasing stamina as a footballer”. And that’s true. In a football match you don’t run at a steady pace for 45 minutes but change your speed & direction all the time. 


Having said that - jogging does still improve your general fitness, endurance and health. So if you’re still searching for "how to build stamina" on Google and are not doing anything right now to improve your stamina besides team training and matches, then definitely start here! 


First build the habit of putting in the extra work outside of team training and go on a 45 min run every (2nd) day for a month. Most players already fail here and stop after just a few days. 


So start with normal running, track your runs on the Train Effective app and once you completed the first 30 days, come back to this article and continue implementing the following 5 things into your fitness training & life!


If you’re already training your endurance regularly please continue with the article right away.

1) Interval Running

The first variation of normal jogging you should start with is interval running. Here you simply switch up the tempo of your run instead of running at one steady pace. A common rhythm you can try on your 45 minute run is


  • 5 minutes mid-tempo jogging 
  • 30 seconds sprint (80%)
  • 5 minutes mid-tempo jogging 
  • 30 seconds sprint (80%)
  • … 


If this is too much for the start, try reducing the length of the sprint or increase the length of the mid-tempo jogging. Try to be self-aware of how far you can push your body without over-exhausting yourself. 


But this goes in the opposite way as well! Once you notice that the training is becoming easier, increase the sprint intervals and/or reduce the mid-tempo intervals so you’re constantly challenged and keep on improving your stamina!


2) Circuit Training 

But as you know, in a football match you’re doing more than running. 

Jumping, stopping, accelerating, shooting, passing - all those movements also require endurance training so your body is capable of performing even in the 90th minute.


So let's discuss how you can specifically improve your stamina for football!

A great exercise to not only build your general fitness & endurance but also your strength & muscular endurance, is called circuit training. 


Here you simply do an exercise for a pre-defined time, then have a short break and then you directly continue with a different exercise for the same time and so on.  


You can be creative and basically combine any exercises you want but here is one example you can start with: 


Exercise 1) Box jumps - 60 seconds

  • 30 seconds break

Exercise 2) Mountain climbers - 60 seconds

  • 30 seconds break

Exercise 3) Lunges - 60 seconds

  • 30 seconds break

Exercise 4) Burpees (alternating sides) - 60 seconds

  • 30 seconds break

Exercise 5) Throwing a medicine ball against a wall (alternating sides) - 60 seconds


Once this set is completed, take a 2 minute break. 

Do 3 sets to complete this exercise.

Two players on a soccer pitch in a 1v1 situation.

3) Cone Runs 

For the next exercise you need access to a pitch, field or any other rather large space, a ball and some cones / items you can use as cones. 


Example: Z-runs 

Set up: Create a rectangle with 4 cones (50 meters x 25 meters) 

Execution: 

  • 1. Dribble with the ball from A to B (100% speed)
  • 2. Run diagonally from B to D without the ball (80% speed)
  • 3. Recovery run from D over C to B (50% speed)
Two players on a soccer pitch in a 1v1 situation.

From there you then just do the same as before but in the opposite direction:

  • 4. Dribble with the ball from B to A (100% speed)
  • 5. Run diagonally from A to C without the ball (80% speed)
  • 6. Recovery run from C over D to A (50% speed)
Two players on a soccer pitch in a 1v1 situation.

Then you continue again with Step 1. 

Repeat the above five times to finish one set. 

Try to do 3 sets with a 2 minute rest in between to complete this exercise. 


And keep in mind: Z-runs are just one example. 

If you’re looking for more variations and similar drills check out the Train Effective app! 

4) Nutrition, water, sleep & recovery

Our body is a machine that needs the right fuel and maintenance in order to perform. 

Especially when you’re training hard and are constantly pushing your body to new levels of exhaustion, you also need to give your body what it needs to recover. 


This way you can not only reduce the risk of injuries and illness because of fatigue & exhaustion but also actually allow your body to adapt to the new work load you’re exposing it to. 


So here a few simple tips / rules how you can make sure you’re doing the right things to increase your stamina without running and overcomplicating things more than necessary: 

  1. Get at least 8-9 hours of sleep everyday  
  2. Go for a walk everyday during the day (sunlight = Vitamin C) 
  3. Drink at least 10 glasses of water everyday (≈ 3 litres)
  4. Have a cool down / stretching routine after every work out you do 
  5. For snacks throughout the day switch to berries, nuts & fruits 
  6. Magnesium, zinc and electrolytes (potassium & sodium) in form of tablets or powders can help you speed up your recovery 

Directly after your workout, avoid sweets, chocolate, and fatty, processed foods. 

Instead go for a combination of 

  • a form of complex* carbohydrate (e.g. sweat potato or brown rice)
  • a source that’s rich in protein (e.g. salmon filet, chicken breast or lentils)
  • some vegetables on the side (e.g onion, courgettes, paprika, broccoli, …)   


If you start with this and experiment with similar variations of the meal above you’re building the perfect base for a healthy body and mind which is the basis for pushing your stamina to new heights. 

*complex carbohydrates = carbohydrates that take longer to digest and therefore more filling

5) Get as much game time as possible

Finally, one of the best ways to test and consecutively build your stamina as match-realistically as possible is by simply getting as much game time as possible. 


Your regular league matches are of course part of this but this can’t be the only thing you rely on. Instead try to play 5-a-side matches or futsal (e.g. in the park or with your teammates). 


Important here is of course that all players are motivated and the match actually is fast-paced and on a high intensity, including constant small sprints and change of directions. 


If you’re not drenched in sweat after the match and/or completely exhausted after the game, try to push harder the next time or find other people to play with. 

Keep doing this and soon your teammates will be asking YOU how to have a better stamina!

Two players on a soccer pitch in a 1v1 situation.

Regardless which level you’re playing at - having a good endurance is always a basic requirement to perform to the best of your abilities for the entire length of the match! 


And it’s one of those things in football that you don’t need any talent for. All it needs is hard work and consistency! Start simple, build the habit and progress raise the difficulty & complexity of your stamina training from then on. 

And whenever you need the right drills & workouts for your training and motivation to keep going just get yourself the Train Effective app! 


Stop worrying if what you’re doing is the most effective way - Train Effective got you covered!

  • Boost your confidence & build the mentality of a professional player with the Rio Ferdinand mentality masterclass
  • Get access to 200+ drills & exercises to master your technique
  • Work on your stamina with our fitness training programmes
  • Create a personalised training plan to focus on your individual strengths and weaknesses 
  • Stay motivated by emerging yourself in a community of like-minded player

… and many other features that will make you a better player!

So download the Train Effective app now, increase your stamina and perform to the best of your abilities for the entire length of the match!

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