You might love the camaraderie of your 5-a-side team and the buzz you get from winning. But are you struggling with your fitness? Do you hope to be subbed off early in the game because you struggle to keep up with the pace, and your legs can’t take you fast?
These feelings aren’t uncommon.
In fact, many five-a-side football players struggle due to their fitness, even great goal scorers or playmakers. Good teams can end up losing a match in the last third because they can’t keep going how they started.
Thankfully, there are ways to beat this problem and, with the right training, it’s definitely possible to improve your fitness for five-a-side.
Improve your strength
A person’s speed is determined largely by the force that they put into the ground. If you don’t have much lower body strength, you will be expending too much energy simply by moving around the pitch, which will cause you to fatigue quicker. No matter your cardiovascular fitness, not being strong enough means you’ll find football more challenging.
Strength exercises for your lower body should be about lifting around 1.5 times your own body weight. Some ideal exercises include squats, trap-bar deadlifts, and barbell deadlifts.
Practice makes perfect
Like with anything we try our hands at, if you want to get better at five-a-side, you need to play more five-a-side! While a simple concept, it really does make sense. The more you play, the more you will build the right level of fitness for the game.
Lots of five-a-side players only play one match a week. They might only be on the pitch for twenty minutes too. Since five-a-side is high intensity by nature, you need to be able to maintain your stamina for however long you’re playing. If you only play for 20 minutes per week, you won’t be able to build up that stamina.
To overcome this, schedule another more casual match each week, and you’ll see an improvement in your fitness levels. After a while, you’ll be able to go all out for a lot more time than you used to.
Lower body fat
If you’re carrying excess body fat, you can get faster and fitter by dropping those few pounds. Imagine playing five-a-side carrying a backpack weighing 6kg. You’ll appreciate just how much more energy your body needs to use when you’re heavier.
By shedding a few pounds, you won’t get out of breath as quickly, you won’t tire as quickly, and you’ll move faster.
For recreational five-a-side players, between 12% and 14% body fat is ideal. For competitive five-a-side, between 10% and 12% is better.
If you are already strong, play twice a week, and are in the ideal body fat range, there are still ways you can improve further.
Nutrition is really important. Keep your diet simple and nutritious. Have a rule that you will only eat things that run, swim, and fly as well as things that are green and grow in the ground. In other words, avoid overly processed foods, and you’ll be able to achieve your goals much more quickly.
The end results
Being lighter, stronger and better fuelled will mean you have much more stamina for your five-a-side games. As a result, you’ll have much more energy and will be in a great position to improve your game and score those goals.