Skip to main content

Outdoor Conditioning Workouts For Field Sports

Football speed and agility drills
(Image credit: Getty Images / The Good Brigade)

During sports such as football and rugby your movement comes in short, sharp bursts with regular changes in direction. These workouts mimic that, improving your football fitness and making you better prepared for your next big game. 

They train your lactate system and your mid-term endurance so you recover quicker from short bursts of energy. After doing these sessions you'll feel the benefit of them in the later stages of the games. You'll have more energy after an hour when others are floundering. 

There are three levels of workouts to choose from. We've treated level 2 as the standard but if it's too hard, start with level 1. When you've mastered it move to level 3.

Make sure to do the warm-up, which will raise your core temperature and prepare your body for the main workout, reducing your chances of getting injured. To improve your chances of avoiding these common football injuries, follow this football warm-up before every game.  

Outdoor Conditioning Workouts Level 1

Warm-up Jog for five minutes on flat ground followed by bodyweight lunges and squats, star jumps and side lunges. After that, do 20m of fast, small steps on your toes to fire up your calves.

1 Lactate threshold training

Repeat the sequence below five times in total. When you sprint around the outside of the pitch you should aim to go at your maximum speed. When you jog, aim for a rate of exertion of about three or four out of ten.

Lap 1 Jog from the corner flag to the halfway line, along the halfway line, along the touchline to the corner flag and along the goal line back to where you started.   

Lap 2 From the corner flag, sprint to the halfway line then jog around the other three sides of half the pitch to recover.

Lap 3 From the corner flag, sprint to the halfway line and along the halfway line then recover along the other two sides of the half pitch.

Lap 4 From the corner flag, sprint three sides of the half pitch and recover along the goal line.

Lap 5 From the corner flag, sprint flat out around the four sides of the half pitch then walk a lap of the half pitch to recover.

2 Speed and agility training

How Place cones or other markers 1m apart along the long sides of the six-yard box, alternating sides with each marker so you have to zigzag to get from one to another.
 
Stand on the goal line 1m in from the corner flag, facing the six-yard box. Jog to the six-yard box, then do side steps, zigzagging between the markers, for the full length of the six-yard box, then sprint to the opposite touchline.
 
Repeat this drill ten times.

Why This drill will make you better at changing direction at speed. If you want to make it even tougher, squat down to touch each cone.

Warm-down Jog for five minutes then do some static stretches, focusing on your quads, hamstrings and calves.

Outdoor Conditioning Workout Level 2

Warm-up Jog for five minutes on flat ground followed by bodyweight lunges and squats, star jumps and side lunges. After that, do 20m of fast, small steps on your toes to fire up your calves.

1 Lactate threshold training

Lap 1 Jog around the outside of the full pitch.

Lap 2 Sprint the full length of one touchline, then jog the other three sides to recover.

Lap 3 From one corner flag, sprint along the sides and end of the pitch to the opposite flag, then jog along the other two sides of the pitch to recover.

Lap 4 From the corner flag, sprint three sides of the pitch and recover along the goal-line.

Lap 5 Sprint flat-out around the whole pitch, then walk one lap of the pitch to recover.

Repeat this sequence five times.

2 Sprinting and turning

Women doing a turn and sprint football conditioning workout

(Image credit: Getty Images / Kelvin Murray)

How Stand on the goal line and do shuttle runs to the edge of the six-yard box, the 18-yard box and the D on the edge of the box. When you get to the D sprint flat out to the halfway line. Turn then run backwards to the edge of the centre circle, turn and sprint to the 18-yard box, then turn again and run backwards to the goal line. Rest for 1 minute. Repeat this sequence six times.

Why When you run backwards, look over your shoulder occasionally and go as fast as possible. This will help you in games when you need to backpedal but still face the play.

Warm-down
Jog for five minutes then do some static stretches, focusing on your quads, hamstrings and calves.

Form guides for the exercises in these workouts are on the right.

Outdoor Conditioning Workout Level 3

Warm-up Jog for five minutes on flat ground followed by bodyweight lunges and squats, star jumps and side lunges. After that, do 20m of fast, small steps on your toes to fire up your calves.

1 Speed on the turn

Do ten jump squats, then shuttle sprint to the six-yard box, the 18-yard box and the centre circle, then flat-out to the other goal line. Turn and repeat ten times.

2 Aerial power

Jog the full length of the halfway line doing knee tucks every few steps. To do a knee tuck, jump and, as you do so, tuck your knees in to your chest. In every rep aim to get as high as you can.

Turn and do double-footed lateral jumps along the full length of the halfway line.

Turn and do right-legged hops to the centre spot then left-legged hops along the rest of the halfway line.

Turn and do ten running jumps along the halfway line.

Warm-down Jog for five minutes then do some static stretches, focusing on your quads, hamstrings and calves.

Joel Snape
Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.

With contributions from