Looking at the world cup and soccer as the Battle between Endurance and Speed.
With the world cup wrapping up, I figured it was a good time to throw some soccer, or football for our non-American centric readers, into the mix. Soccer, believe it or not, was my first sport. I grew up playing soccer and at a reasonably high level for a pre-teen kid, doing the whole select/travel team soccer thing for a few years. Although most of my success was due to two things: 1. Deciding it was a good idea to train myself to kick with both feet when I was around 10 and 2. The ability to sprint faster and run at that speed for a lot longer than anyone else we played against.
My soccer career came to an abrupt halt because I ran too fast. My HS coach said I could only do one if I wanted to be great at something, and he thought I could be great at running. Thankfully, I think I made the right choice in terms of talent maximization.
Enough of my trip down nostalgia lane, the point isn’t to reminisce about my could have been soccer career, instead it’s to use soccer as a backdrop for conditioning. You see in sports like soccer, which have a heavy endurance and speed component, there’s always a debate on how much endurance work and how much speed work needs to be done.
I’ve long made the argument that if you want to understand athletic performance, talk to a track coach. Not a “athletic performance” coach or one of those guys at your local gym, but a track coach. Not sprint coach or distance coach, but someone who understands sprints to distance to throws to jumps.
Why? Because you have to understand all aspects of speed, power production, strength, endurance, and recovery from a training and technical standpoint. And from a training design standpoint, only swim coaches rival distance coaches in their love of training theory and design. And more importantly in their ability to understand how to put together interval sets and workouts that attack different adaptations (which is a lost art).
What’s the point?
It’s time for an ill-informed, distance runner biased, look at conditioning on the soccer pitch, or really any field at all.