Football is a game that requires aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Aerobic fitness is the most important quality in football, closely followed by anaerobic fitness, running, speed and agility. Footballers tend to cover less distance and work at lower intensities during the second half of games then during the first half. This is because fatigue limits a player. To sum it up if a player was fitter they would perform more effectively. Therefore if a player was to improve aerobic capacity then overall fitness would boost performance on the football field.
Team sports like football make it even harder to determine what areas of fitness are required. The types required will depend upon positions and role in the team, but one key area is skill and specificity. Football players should be football players first and athletes second. This doesn't mean that their athletic areas of fitness, speed, strength, stamina etc. are not important, because they are, but skill and specificity and perhaps sprint are the most important.
Football players need a combination of aerobic and anaerobic fitness due to the nature of the game and the fact that there is continuous movement with lots of short bursts of more intense activity. Some positions require higher levels of anaerobic fitness than others, some require more aerobic fitness. A midfield player is required to cover a lot of ground during a game and needs a good aerobic engine. A striker on the other hand requires short bursts of repeated activity and requires more speed and anaerobic fitness.
Interval training boosts the footballer's ability to play at high intensity's. Interval training uses fixed patterns of fast and slow exercise. You have to finish a set which is a group of repetitions before the footballer gets a rest. An advantage for a footballer using interval training for there training method is that you can mix aerobic and anaerobic exercise. A disadvantage is that it's hard to keep going. An example of Interval training: 10 x 100m sprints with a 300m jog between each sprint.
Fitness requirements a footballer needs to have:
o Aerobic Fitness
o Anaerobic Fitness
Aerobic fitness refers to endurance, or the ability to sustain work for prolonged periods. This is usually experienced in the abilities to walk, run, climb uphill, swim, etc. The term aerobic implies that the oxygen necessary to achieve the work is taken up by the individual during the activity. In aerobic work, oxygen is obtained from the air and is transferred from the lungs to the blood and then to the muscles via the circulatory system. It is important for a footballer as research tells us that there is a high correlation between a player's VO2max and the distance covered in a game.
Anaerobic exercise, unlike aerobic exercise, does not require the body to provide a large amount of oxygen, and is used to strengthen and tone muscles in the skeletal muscle system. Anaerobic fitness determines the level at which you can work at a high intensity. This usually means short bursts of activity, where you will often be out of breath. You are working at a level where your body cannot provide enough oxygen and your muscles need to get energy from glycogen. You can only work for a short time at this level before you get too fatigued and go into something called oxygen debt. An example of anaerobic exercise is sprinting in football. Anaerobic training will make your body more efficient at using glycogen as a stored fuel and also help it deal with oxygen debt. One effect of oxygen debt is the build up of lactic acid, which is felt when your legs for example, feel a burning sensation at the end of an intense long sprint. This lactic acid needs to be removed from muscles as quickly as possible and anaerobic training helps make your muscles more efficient at coping with lactic acid and better at removing waste products from muscles.
Speed is the shortest time taken to move the body or a body part over a specific distance. In football you have to move your leg to kick the ball, you need to do this quite fast as the other team could tackle and take the ball off you.
Agility is the ability to change body position and direction quickly and with accuracy. In football you need to do this to move into spaces to receive the ball and to pass the ball to other members in your team. Agility is important to football as it's a starting and stopping game.