5 Fitness Drills We Love to Hate
Whether you’re gearing up for a new season or you’re working to maintain your fitness year round, conditioning drills are just part of the game.
We all know how important good fitness can be in improving our performance on the pitch and preventing injuries that keep us off the pitch. But that doesn’t mean we won’t complain about conditioning sessions along the way…
If you’re not sure where to start when getting ready for a new season, here are 5 fitness drills to get you going. Sorry or you're welcome in advance...
1. The Beep Test
A classic. This drill is performed by professionals and amateur athletes around the world and the beeps will haunt your dreams in the weeks leading up to the test.
Place a line of cones twenty meters apart on a flat running surface (grass, synthetic turf, court).
Setup the audio via a portable speaker or headphones if running solo. You can access the beep test audio via YouTube, Spotify, or a variety of sites on a Google search.
When the audio begins, run to the opposite cone and aim to arrive exactly at the beep. Do not proceed back to the other cones early. The test starts very slowly so pace yourself and enjoy a light warmup run!
- After each one minute interval, the test will make a sound that indicates a new level. The higher the level, the shorter the time between beeps and the faster you will need to run to get to the other side.
- Continue running back and forth between the cones until you fail to reach the cone by the next beep.
- Once a player fails to get to the other side by the beep, they are eliminated and their score is recorded. Scoring is based on level and are often between 7-12 depending on age. Elite women’s football players have reached levels 13-15!
2. Full Field Figure 8s
This is a pretty straightforward jog-sprint circuit that you can do on any size pitch really.
- Start at a corner flag and sprint along the goal line to the opposite corner flag
- Next jog from the corner flag to half pitch
- Next sprint across the field along the half field line
- Turn in the direction of the corner flag you haven’t run to yet and jog to the flag
- Then sprint from across the next goal line to the fourth corner flag
- Repeat this pattern to make an 8 on the field while alternating jogging and sprinting at each leg
3. Full Field Sprints (Aka 120s)
In this exercise, players will sprint 120 yards (or the equivalent of a full field) and then jog back to their starting spot. Players have 60 seconds to run there and back.
A good goal to set for yourself is to try and get across the pitch in 20 seconds, and then give yourself 30-40 seconds to jog back. You should aim to be sprinting again immediately at the 60 second mark, and repeat this 10 times (aka 10 minutes).
For an extra challenge, you can try Manchester United’s take on this test. To perform “The Man U”, you will try to sprint 100 yards, for 20 reps (or 20 minutes straight). The twist though is…
- The first 10 sprints → you have 25 seconds to get across and can use the rest of the minute to jog back.
The final 10 sprints → you should aim to decrease each sprint time by 1 second (and rest 1 second longer). So the 11th sprint should take 24 seconds, the 12th sprint takes 23 seconds and so on. This means that by the 20th sprint, you will be aiming to get across in 15 seconds, with 45 seconds to jog back… that’s fast after 19 minutes of sprinting.
4. The Clock
This one can be set up in a variety of ways, but you will need anywhere from 6-13 cones (or water bottles, extra shoes, etc.).
- Place a cone in the middle of a circle. This is where you will start your run.
- Place 12 cones in the position of every hour on a clock. It is up to you to decide how big the clock is. It can be the size of the center circle on the field (10 yard radius) or it could be bigger (20-25 yard sprints).
- Start in the middle, sprint to 1 o’clock and back to the middle.
- Repeat for each hour on the clock without stopping.
- Record your time around the clock and see if you can improve over time!
5. The T-Test
This exercise is about short sprints and requires 4 cones to be set up in the shape of the letter T.
To set up, the top of the T requires 3 cones spaced 5 yards apart. The fourth cone marks the base of the T and should be 10 yards from the middle cone above.
- Start at the base of the T, sprint to the middle cone, and tap it with your right hand
- Shuffle to the left cone, and tap it with your left hand
- Shuffle passed the middle cone all the way to the far right cone, and tap it
- Shuffle back to the middle cone and tap it
- Back pedal to the starting cone at the base of the T and tap it
- Repeat as many times as you’d like and record your times for comparison
So there you have it.
Five fitness drills we love to hate and you can see why... they’re no joke!
While these drills are great for football players covering both long and short distances, they are equally beneficial for rugby, AFL, basketball, or really anyone looking to get in a good cardio workout.
You can work these into your weekly training plans and make sure to record your times to track progress from week to week. We also recommend checking with your coaches or trainers to get an idea of reasonable time targets to aim for!