Youth Soccer Strength & Conditioning, an Overview

This is the overall strategy for an upcoming youth soccer strength & conditioning program. The purpose of this program is to support the coach by supplementing soccer skill instruction and training with speed, agility, coordination, endurance, and fundamental movement workouts. The secondary purpose of the program is to show the kids that working out can be fun and rewarding while helping them become faster, stronger, and healthier.

Pic 3
Strength & conditioning can and should be fun and challenging at the same time.

The program is based on two sessions per week, each session being about 10-20 minutes in duration. There are three assessments, an initial, a mid-season, and a final. Each assessment will have three timed events, a 800m run (endurance), an agility T-test (agility/quickness), and a 40 yard sprint (speed). The purpose of these assessments is to provide indicators to measure the effectiveness of the program and to reveal areas for improvement. Each week, the focus of the sessions will alternate between agility/power, coordination/endurance, and mobility/plyometrics. Each session will follow the same general flow: low intensity dynamic warmup (jog), coordination/mobility drills (20-30meters), workout, cooldown (stretching).


Agility: The ability to change direction quickly on the playing field. Cone drills, shuttle runs, plyometrics, and games.

Power: Explosive speed, quick accelerations and decelerations, powerful shots. Plyometrics, calisthenics, and stop/start drills.

Coordination: The ability to command the body to move in a specific way, mastering balance and skill required to do a task. Drills and games.

Endurance: Sustained low to moderate intensity movement, building this will help players have gas in the tank at the end of the game. Repeat intervals, sprints/strides, hill sprints, over-distance training.

Mobility: Full range of motion in the joints. Dynamic warmups, drills, and cooldown stretching. Performed at each session.


Week 1: (1) Initial performance assessment (400m), (2) Initial performance assessment (40m sprint & agility test)

Week 2: (1) Introduction to movements, drills, & exercises, (2) Coordination  & endurance work

Week 3: (1) Agility & power, (2) Coordination & endurance work

Week 4: (1) Mobility & plyometrics, (2) Teambuilding exercise

Week 5: (1) Mid-season assessment (400m), (2) Mid-season assessment (40m sprint & agility test)

Week 6: (1) Agility & power, (2) Coordination & endurance

Week 7: (1) Agility & power, (2) Coordination & endurance

Week 8: (1) Teambuilding exercise, (2) Agility & power

Week 9: (1) (1) Semi-final assessment (400m), (2) Semi-final assessment (40m sprint & agility test)

Week 10: (1) Agility & power, (2) Fun games

Week 11: (1) Coordination & endurance , (2) Agility & power

Week 12: (1) Final performance assessments, (2) Fun games


Adolescent Aerobic Training Program

Designing training programs for adolescents is different than for adults. As the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) insists, children are not miniature adults.  This is a sample aerobic training program for an adolescent athlete. It adheres to the 17 training principles taught in the ISSA Youth Fitness Trainer course (pictured below).

17 Training Principles
Source: Hatfield, Frederick C. (2016). Fitness: The Complete Guide. Edition 9.0. International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), Carpinteria, CA.

This is a six-week periodized aerobic training program for an adolescent. It features aerobic workouts three to five times per week, each session 20-60 minutes, building gradually over the six week period. It includes strength and flexibility work in the form of bodyweight calisthenics and plyometrics, two to three times per week and one to two rest days. The program encourages cross-training, but no more than once per week and is designed to allow flexibility and adjustment as needed.
This training program is systematic and leverages the first and most important training principle, train athletes the way you want their bodies to change (Fahey 2015). The goal in this program is to develop a youth’s aerobic conditioning. Aerobic conditioning occurs when athletes engage in low intensity, long duration activities, as found commonly in most endurance sports. This training program is designed to target a youth’s aerobic conditioning by including mostly running and biking, combined with bodyweight calisthenics and stretching, and proper rest in order to lessen the risk of overuse injuries and overtraining.

• All workouts require a dynamic warmup 3-5 min to include leg swings, high knees, butt kicks, toy soldiers, carioca, and high skips.
• Include stretching as a cooldown post-workout. Hold each stretch position 30-45 seconds.
• “Rest” means full rest. “Active rest” means play outside, work in the garden, go for a hike, etc.; get the body movin’!
• Days can be swapped in a given week, but ensure no more than three consecutive days of workouts without a rest day.
• Do not train if you are sick or injured, make those days rest days to give your body a chance to recover fully.
• Listen to your body, if a given RPE feels like too much, back off. Be sure to tell your trainer in these cases so he can adjust future workouts.

Week 1: Initial assessment and aerobic base-building
• Mon: 12 min run time trial #1 (outside preferred).
• Tue: Rest
• Wed: 20 min run (RPE 11-12, fairly light)
• Thu: 20 min bike & 30 min strength/flexibility
o 2×20 reps: air squats, pushups, lunges.
• Fri: Rest
• Sat: 30 min run (RPE 11-12, fairly light)
• Sun: Active rest

Week 2: Aerobic base-building
• Mon: 30 min bike (RPE 11-12). 20 min strength/flexibility.
o 2 x 20 reps of pushups, sit-ups, air squats, lunges.
• Tue: 20 min run (RPE 11-12).
• Wed: Rest
• Thu: 30 min bike (RPE 11-12). 20 min strength/flexibility.
o 10 min EMOM: 5 pushups, 5 air squats, 5 situps
• Fri: 10 min run at RPE 11-12, 10 min bike at RPE 13-14
• Sat: 30 min bike or run at RPE 11-12
• Sun: Rest

Week 3: Incorporating lactacte threshold and steady state work
• Mon: 10 min run at RPE 11-12, then 3 x 5min at RPE 15-16 (2 min rest
between sets)
• Tue: 15 min run at RPE 9-10, strength & flexibility
o 2×20 reps: air squats, pushups, sit-ups, lunges.
• Wed: Rest
• Thu: 30 min cross-training of your choice (RPE 11-14)
• Fri: 20 min run at RPE 11-12, then 4-6 strides (20-30 sec at RPE 17-
18, 2-3 min rest between)
• Sat: Strength & flexibility
• Sun: Rest

Week 4: Mid-assessment and down week
• Mon: 12 min run time trial #2 (outside preferred).
• Tue: Strength & flexibility
• Wed: Rest
• Thu: 45 min cross-training of your choice (RPE 11-14)
• Fri: Strength & flexibility (plyo)
• Sat: 15 min run at RPE 11-12, 30 min run at RPE 13-14.
• Sun: Active rest

Week 5: Advanced aerobic conditioning (LT & steady state)
• Mon: 40 min run at RPE 11-12, then 4-6 strides (20-30 sec at RPE 17-
18, 2-3 min rest between)
• Tue: 15 min run at RPE 9-10, strength/flexibility
o 1×30 reps: air squats, pushups, situps, lunges.
• Wed: Rest
• Thu:10 min run at RPE 9-10, 2 x 10 min at RPE 13-14, 10 min at RPE 9-
• Fri: Strength & flexibility (plyo)
o 2×15 reps: star jumpers, burpees, lunge jumps.
• Sat: 30 min bike at RPE 11-12, 15 min run at RPE 13-14.
• Sun: Active rest

Week 6: Advanced aerobic conditioning and optimization
• Mon: 25 min run at RPE 11-12
• Tue: 30 min bike (RPE 11-12) & 15 min run (RPE 11-12) & strength and
o 2×25 reps: pushups, star jumpers, air squats, lunges.
• Wed: 20 min bike (RPE 11-12) & 10 min run (RPE 9-10)
• Thu: Rest
• Fri: 12 min run time trial FINAL (outside preferred).
• Sat: Shakeout jog (15-25 min, light), strength & flexibility (plyo)
o 3×25 reps: air squats, burpees, pushups, situps.
• Sun: Active rest

Pic 2

This program is tailored to adolescents because it limits the frequency, intensity, and duration of workouts to guard against over-training, injury, and burnout. It also prescribes rest days to ensure adequate recovery time, and plenty of stretching and cool-down mobility work. It is different than an aerobic conditioning training program for an adult because of its limited high intensity work, limited duration, intensity, and frequency, and the lack of heavy weight training. This program utilizes bodyweight calisthenics, which will serve as a support activity to the main goal of aerobic conditioning and will help develop and maintain flexibility and range of motion. There are many ways to design a training program, but there is no one right way. There are, however, some general training principles that should always be followed, such as the 17 from ISSA mentioned above. The mindset in designing and executing these training plans should be balancing short-term performance goals with long-term fitness and health for the athlete.