How to Increase Stamina for Soccer

By Luís Miguel
Updated on

If you’re like me…

You’re always wanting to get better at soccer.

Understanding how to build up stamina for soccer is a crucial step in the process.

Improving your stamina can be tricky and hard, though — especially if you don’t know where to start.

What if I told you I am here to teach you some of the best ways to increase stamina for football (soccer)?

In this post, you will learn how to build stamina for playing soccer and get to know some of most effective soccer stamina tips so you can develop your soccer stamina the right way and make it last for longer periods.

Before we get started, however, there are some important concepts you need to comprehend.

Why Is Training Stamina and Endurance Important for Soccer

Training stamina and endurance are necessary for the best performance in soccer as this sport requires performance at a variety of speeds and intensities.

Association football (i.e., “soccer” or “football” for non-Americans) can be divided up into two distinct types of movements:

  • Fast: short, high-speed movements like sprinting and jumping.
  • Steady: low-intensity movements like jogging and walking.

Bear in mind that a match lasts 90 minutes (two halves of 45 minutes) and requires players to run, sprint, kick, jump and perform technical movements.

This is not easy:

This kind of exercise would leave an untrained person gasping for air and that is why you need to build up and / or improve your soccer stamina and endurance.

What Is Endurance?

You might be asking:

«What is endurance, really?»

Endurance is one of the five key aspects of athleticism and refers to the ability to perform exercise and activity for extended periods of time.

This is second only to field skills in the way that we train soccer athletes.

“Endurance” basically means having a great, long-lasting physical stamina that will allow you to performance at a higher level for more time.

So… how do you actually build up stamina for soccer?

Keep on reading!

Strength Training: The Foundation for Everything Else

You should be squatting more!

Many athletes overlook the importance of strength, but it is a foundation for all other athletic abilities.

Speed, endurance, coordination and flexibility are pointless without the strength to act them out.

Strength changes how much effort is necessary for certain movements.

An athlete who squats 200 kg (440 lbs) will have an easier time than one who squats 100 kg (220 lbs).

The amount of force necessary to run, for example, might be 30 kg (66 lbs) which is 30% effort for the weaker athlete and 15% effort for the stronger.

Improving maximal strength reduces how taxing such movements are on the body:

If we get stronger, running will be less difficult and we will be able to do more of it before we get tired.

Strength training also has benefits for the heart; increases in strength will improve power output associated with fast, sprinting or jumping movements on the pitch.

All things being equal, increasing maximal strength will increase speed and power, improving pitch performance.

Again, training this ability will reduce the amount of fatigue that less demanding movements place on the body when it really counts: on the pitch!

Takeaway: Prioritize strength during the off-season.

Focusing on squats, split squats and deadlifts will build huge strength, which will improve endurance.

How to Increase Stamina for Soccer

Fitness and stamina are most often associated with cardio exercise.

This is the kind of thing we all do when we want to be “fitter”.

Cardiovascular endurance focuses on long bouts of exercise that elevate the heart rate.

For soccer players, this continuous training is an important part of improving performance, since they must be active for so long.

However, this is not the only kind of fitness necessary for maximal performance.

Sprinting involved with chasing the ball, intercepting passes and moving towards the opponent’s goal must also be trained.

The fact that soccer requires us to do fast and slow movements means that they must be included in training to develop stamina at both paces.

HIIT: Developing Stamina for Soccer Players

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves performing exercise at different intensities in sequence.

This style of exercise lets us train both fast and steady movements and is actually better for improving endurance than any other style.

While some people train as sprinting then resting, the best way to improve soccer performance is to make sure that we keep moving between sprints.

You won’t get time to stand around during the match so training endurance for continuous movement between high-intensity bouts will train stamina more effectively.

For the soccer athlete, this should involve a lot of running.

HIIT for soccer might involve 45-minute bouts alternating between 30-second bursts of maximal speed, followed by longer times spent at jogging speed.

Another way of really boosting stamina — specific to the sport — is the combination of agility drills and plyometrics with sprinting and jogging.

By combining these 3 major elements, we can improve stamina in a way that is sport-specific while developing footwork and power.

If we train agility ladders, immediately followed by 100-yard (meters) sprints and then a lap around the pitch, we can train highly-specific HIIT circuits that also focus on a mixture of steady and fast movements.

Takeaway: HIIT is the best form of cardio for soccer – especially when focusing on constant movement in different directions.

Making Effective Long-term Changes

Stamina and endurance, like any other athletic quality, must be improved through increasingly difficult practice

When we aim to improve stamina, it is not enough to simply “do the thing” and hope that we improve.

The body doesn’t change very quickly and it takes a lot of tough, well-directed work to make long-term changes.

Endurance work should follow the traditional training pattern of moving from easier to more difficult and from general to specific.

We must overload if we want to improve.
In other words: increase the amount of work done or the speed.

This might mean a ratio of jogging-sprinting of 60 seconds:30 seconds now, whereas next week we aim to perform at 50 seconds:30 seconds and improve performance.

Constantly pushing ourselves to improve is the only way to progress.

This, however, puts a huge strain on the body so it is important to remember that:

When we approach training for any sport, it is during rest that we make the physical changes necessary for this to be a long-term change.

Many athletes focus on training hard but overlook the importance of recovering hard.

HIIT training will improve fitness and muscular endurance but only if you recover from it and keep training with a relatively fresh set of legs beneath you.

Tiring the body out will reduce endurance and performance as we damage the muscles and “sap” the nervous system of its energy.

Effective recovery and rest is an essential, overlooked method to improve stamina and endurance in the long-term.

Takeaway: Always focus on improving — whether this is training for longer, at higher speeds or more difficult exercises — but make sure you focus on recovering from this kind of intense training.


The majority of a soccer match is made up of jogging and sprinting which place a huge demand on the athlete’s stamina.

That’s precisely the reason why understanding how to increase stamina for soccer is of paramount importance.

Now, as we saw, building up stamina and endurance requires a variety of components.

We need strength to make tasks easier and specific training to improve the movement and ensure that we have an effective “engine” across a wide range of intensities.

Proper stamina comes from training hard and progressing over a long time.

There is no magical shortcut to stamina, but using the methods outlined above will improve your chances and, crucially, your performance!

Guy wearing an SL Benfica jersey holding soccer ball over his head

Article by:

Luís Miguel

As a true soccer enthusiast, I’m Soccermodo’s team captain. My job is to make sure the site’s content is top-notch so that you, our reader, can focus solely on improving your game and reach new heights.