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Life in Motion

Train Like a World Cup Player

Sports & Exercise

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is here and the greatest soccer players on the planet have come together in Russia to compete. Soccer is the most practiced and most popular sport worldwide.

NEBH Athletic Trainers in the Sports Performance Center explain that the top three qualities you need to be an elite soccer player are strong legs, fast reflexes, and pure speed. Players should focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. Soccer games can last up to 90 minutes or more, so you want to be able to sprint for 10 yards, rest for 10-20 seconds, and then sprint again. Here are some examples of how you can train like a World Cup player.


  • For 10-15 minutes, focus on getting your heart rate up and the blood flowing in your body. Consider a set of dynamic exercises like leg circles, high knees, soldier kicks, backwards shuffles, carioca and lateral lunges or shuffles. These are all great options for a good warmup that mimic the demands of your sport.


  • Position cones in a T-formation approximately 5 yards apart. Sprint the pattern starting at the bottom of the T. You will then sprint to the midpoint, the left point and then to the right, to mid and then back pedal back to start. Complete this at 90-100 percent of your maximum capacity for one minute. Rest and then repeat 3-4 more times.
  • Position cones in a square-formation approximately 5 yards apart. Starting at cone 1, sprint and tap cone 2. Side shuffle to the left to cone 3, back pedal around cone 3. Get to cone 4 and sprint back to cone 1. When you reach each cone, cut hard and transition to the movement. Time yourself and go as fast as possible. Rest and repeat 3-4 more times.
  • Juggling is the process of players using their chest, thighs, and feet to keep the ball in the air. It is used to enhance ball-handling skills as well as mental skills such as focus, patience, and self-control.
    • All of the FIFA players have mastered juggling because not only is it a fun trick but it boosts your coordination and is a great lower body exercise. Soccer players tend to incorporate at least 30 minutes of juggling into their daily workouts.


Building a strong core helps players to make quick sharp turns and can help to prevent common injuries in the leg muscles. Try planks to strengthen your core:

  • Lie on your stomach with your forearms on the floor and your elbows directly below your shoulders.
  • Push yourself up onto your elbows or with arms extended straight.
  • Tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles, lifting your hips and knees off the floor.
  • Keep your body straight and hold for 30 seconds. If you cannot hold this position, bring your knees back to the floor and hold with just your hips lifted.
  • Slowly return to the start position and rest 30 seconds. Repeat.

If you have any health concerns, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

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