Change of Pace in Winter Conditioning

by Jennifer Schwartz, Alexandria Soccer Injury Prevention & Fitness

Being in the best physical condition to play should be a top priority for competitive soccer players. This means training hard in team sessions, working on fitness outside of the team, an intentional effort to encourage the muscles to recover, sleeping adequately, and putting thought into nutrition.

Over the course of the winter months we expect that our travel players improve. The absolute minimum for each player is to improve their Beep Test score (Fitness or Pacer Test) and focus on their post-season coach evaluations.

Below is a straightforward conditioning workout that any player or adult can carry out to improve their aerobic performance and competitive mindset.

The 20s Fitness Workouts

The 20s means 20 seconds. One repetitions of a 20s is 20 seconds walk, 20 seconds jog, 20 seconds run/sprint. A player can also do this for milage. In the ASA Speed, Agility, and Injury Prevention Course we perform 5 or 6 repetitions of 20s in between strength training or core circuits.

Click here for examples of 20s workouts in the interval training program for U16s

Why walking, jogging and sprinting?

The changes in pace are elemental to the game of soccer. Every soccer activity includes all three — walking, jogging, and sprinting. These simple workouts also teach acceleration, pushing through ‘walls’ of fatigue, and increasing overall cardiovascular output.

Improving one’s fitness can carry over to improvements in competitive mindset. This will carry over into all aspects of performance and leadership.

The coaches and I made a startling discovery during the several baseline tests that were conducted over the summer, fall, and winter. We as coaches and former competitive players know that part of the game requires us to push ourselves beyond normal physical limits. This can be referred to as ‘pushing through the wall’. What we found was the majority of players did NOT push themselves past the wall of physical discomfort when given the opportunity outside of the game (in the beep test).


Success in a match is staying the course and being well-organized as a team; no matter the amount of pressure and external factors. Activities such as winter conditioning, setting goals, strength training, and togetherness on the Beep Test can help the coaches, players, and families build their game to the highest level possible.

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