How to Get Match Fit for Football

2 April 2023

How to Get Match Fit for Football :


(Make sure you read the whole article and don’t skip around. You may find a Free 1 Month Gym Program somewhere ($600 Value for Free))


Your match fitness is arguably the most important part of the game..


Yes, you must be technically great to play the game.

You have to have excellent game, positional and spatial awareness on the pitch..

You have to have the ability to make the right decision at the right time..

But, without match fitness, you won’t be fit in the brain, which will lead to fatigue in all the other areas and cause all of the other areas to drop.

You can’t expect to perform at your ultimate level if your condition won’t allow you to stay on the pitch for 90 minutes.

Like always, I got you covered : I’m gonna share the full method I’ve personally used to get myself match fit, as well as the pros I coach in my 1-on-1 program.



I’ll also share why it’s so important to be match fit, and give you guys a surprise at the end of the post,

so stay tuned!


Let’s get straight into it ! Here’s the plan :


1- Why being match fit is so important in football

2- Timing is Key

3- Mix it up : Different Types of Fitness Work

4- Nothing replaces Matches

5- Sample off-season fitness plan



1- Why is being match fit so important? 

This is self-explanatory, really. But I still want to give you a clear picture of why being match fit is such a key part of succeeding in football.


A deeper look at the pros:

First, let’s take a look at the elite level in football.

I’m talking Champions League teams, World Cup Winners and so on.


I analyzed two papers to give you scientific proof of the importance of fitness for football.

One of them was by the National Library of Medicine, which studied the link between running performance and match outcomes among elite footballers in European top flights.

The other was conducted by the CIES Football Observatory, which goes over the running data from close to 8,000 matches in 31 top pro leagues worldwide in the 2020/21 season.

All of these key findings from both papers gives you an idea of how fit pros actually are.

First of all, on average, each outfield player at the top professional level covers 9.9 km a game.

If you look at midfielders specifically, these figures can go well above 10km, reaching 12 to 13 km on average.

But most importantly, the biggest takeaway from the studies is that teams that outrun their opponents usually win football matches. 



In fact, in won matches (as opposed to draws or losses), midfielders and forwards run significantly longer distances, especially in terms of high intensity runs (>24km/h).

Based off that, if you knew your team would have a better chance of winning more games going into a season if players were fit, wouldn’t you take your fitness work more seriously?

Now, that should be enough to convince you that being match fit is non-negotiable.

Putting in the meters during the off-season and pre-season will allow your team to come into the season flying which will allow your team to win more games.

If you are on a winning team and you play a key role in that team, this will allow you to push up to higher levels!



Separate yourself from other players 

If you’re incredibly fit, you’ll show your potential and have consistently better actions during a game.

Let me paint a picture for you that you can visualize..

Imagine you’re playing the most important game of your season..

You can be promoted to the next league…

You need the 3 points, but the score is 0-0 at the 85th minute mark…

It’s very hot and humid, most players are exhausted, playing poor passes and making mistakes..

But there’s that one guy on the wing..

He’s incredibly fit, and has been a constant threat for the entire game and helped with defensive actions to avoid the opposition from scoring.

He’s constantly asking for the ball and finding ways to create attacks..

In the 90th minute, he gets the ball on the wing. The fullback he’s facing is super tired….

With composure, he drives the ball towards the fullback, fakes a cross before cutting inside and shooting an absolute banger in the far post!

His team gets the 1-0 win in the last seconds!



See my point?

Being match fit will separate you from the other players and can help your team win games in key moments.

And trust me, there’s nothing a coach loves more than having fit players, and there’s nothing he hates more than having unfit ones…


Of course, this was an example for a winger.

But this is just as true for a midfielder who has the ability to consistently ping great balls towards the end of the game despite having run 10k already, or a center back making a key tackle to keep a clean-sheet in stoppage time…

Overall, being match fit will garner you more trust from coaches and increase your chances of having more play time : which is ultimately where we have the ability to express ourselves!



Steer Clear from Injuries: 

Lastly, being game fit will reduce your chances of getting injured significantly.

Think about it: if your body isn’t ready to take in 90 minutes of effort of full intensity, but you go into a game anyway, your muscles will be screaming within minutes…

Football is a very stressful sport and one of the most intense sports in the world from a cardiovascular standpoint.

When your body is under that much stress, muscle strains can occur due to extreme fatigue and lack of muscle endurance.

Now… Nobody wants to be out for a few weeks just for not being match fit, do they?

That’s why the homie Ric is here to help you become match fit, step-by-step.

Trust me, you’ll be cruising through a 90-minute match once you apply all the tips, I have for you here!



2-Timing is Key

The best time to get match fit is during the off-season.

This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen so many players go wrong with this.

I see way too many players using pre-season training and friendlies as their preferred time to get up to speed physically and become match fit.

Here’s exactly what happens when you do this: players spend better parts of their seasons playing catch-up, trying to get fit for next week’s big game rather than preparing before-hand.

Plus, going into a season unfit is a sure way to pick up overuse injuries.

If your body isn’t ready to handle several sessions a week and a 90-minute game on the weekend, it’ll eventually show signs of fatigue.

The only problem is: going into training sessions with heavy legs or fatigue won’t allow you to perform at your best. And if you can’t perform at your best, you won’t be able to impress your coach and give him a reason to play you on the weekend.

Even worse: if your coach can tell you’re unfit, he most likely won’t include you in the squad for the game, let alone in the starting lineup (I mean I wouldn’t as a coach)…



Can you blame him though?

Why would he bring a player that’s only able to perform for 20 minutes at a good level?

Sure, you might make a difference in the last few moments of the game, but then again, who knows if you’ll get injured within your first couple of high intensity sprints when you come on…

So, please, do me and you a favor and get match fit during the off-season.

Off-season is the ideal time to put some hard miles on your legs and push yourself to improve your fitness, as well as your strength in the gym and technical ability on the pitch.

Since you don’t have games or team training sessions, it’s okay to push yourself really hard in one session because you aren’t competing day in and day out.

If you do this during the season, and you show up the next day without the ability to run properly, you are “at risk” of losing your spot in the starting eleven.

In the offseason, you can afford to take a full off-day the following day.

You don’t need to be fresh all the time and ready to perform, which makes it easier to have a heavier load and intensity during the off-season.

Once you’ve pushed your lungs, legs and heart in the off-season, you’ll impress your coach and teammates during pre-season fitness tests, which will boost your confidence and give you a better chance of playing week in, week out!

And playing every game will keep you fit during the season, which is a win-win.




As promised, before reading further, you can check out my Free 1 Month Gym Program and Free “How to Become a Pro Masterclass”.

If you want to become more confident on the ball, become faster and stronger on the pitch, and eventually play in the top leagues in the world, this is exactly what you’re looking for and it’s FREE! ($1500 Value for FREE). Just enter your email below:


3- Mix It Up : Different Types of Fitness Work

Obviously, there is no single, magic way or hack to get match fit.

So, stop searching for it!

However, it’s important to understand the principles of getting match fit so you can apply them directly to your training and get the most out of your work.

First of all, there are two types of fitness you should know about :
Aerobic and Anaerobic fitness.





Aerobic fitness is the ability to use oxygen to produce energy over long periods of time.

This is key for footballers, as your body needs to be able to maintain optimal energy levels throughout 90 minutes in a football match.

One of the main goals in the beginning of off-season is to build your aerobic base (which is essentially your foundation). Once you have a solid aerobic base, you can build anaerobic qualities off of it.

Some of the best ways to work on your aerobic fitness is going for long run, cycle or swim.

My biggest (and may seem surprising to you) advice is to spend at least 2-6 weeks in the beginning of off-season building your aerobic base.




The amount of time will depend on if you’re coming off a season of playing regularly or not…

Obviously, if you were playing regularly, you need less time. If you weren’t playing regularly, the contrary applies.

This can consist of something very simple:

1. The first 2 weeks of off-season, do 30-minute trots 4-5x per week.

2. The next 2 weeks, build up to 45 minutes.

3. The last 2 week, build up to 60-minute trots 4-5x per week.


A trot is a “fast paced” jog where you are getting the legs loose and under you but still slightly challenging your lungs, legs and heart.


If you use a heart rate monitor to track your progress, your heart rate should be around 135-150 beats per minute.

Allowing your heart rate to steadily increase and getting your body used to sustain it for long periods is crucial for footballers.



The average max HR of football players during football games ranges from 165 to 175 bpm.

Heart rates obviously peak during high intensity duels, where it can go up to 220 bpm.

The goal is to get that heart rate down and into normal range as quickly as possible.

The better ability your heart can get down to normal range, the “fitter” you are.

So, for your longer runs during off-season, aim to sustain 60 to 80% of this max range.

This range will best replicate your average heart rate during games: you’ll have short bursts of super high HR and then moments when it lowers and you’re jogging or walking.

Overall, aerobic fitness will allow your body to get used to sustaining a high HR during prolonged periods of time, which is crucial in football.





On the other hand, anaerobic fitness is the body’s ability to produce energy by breaking down glucose without using oxygen.

During anaerobic exercise, a lot of energy is released within seconds of effort, meaning the oxygen demand surpasses the oxygen supply.

 This type of fitness allows footballers to perform short, explosive bursts of energy like sprinting, jumping and changing direction.

So, basically, getting anaerobically fitter will allow you to sustain higher energy levels during short and intense efforts, which happen all the time during a football match and are generally key deciders on whether or not your team wins the game.

The best way to work on your anaerobic fitness is through HIIT or high-intensity interval training as well as plyometric work, where you’re expending high amounts of energy over a few seconds (anywhere from 5-30s) and resting for the same amount of time before repeating the cycle.



Fartlek Training 

Fartlek training is a very effective way to work on your match fitness as a footballer.


Of course, a football match combines intense bursts of effort with slower pace moments, but as a footballer you are constantly on the move, on your toes and active.

As opposed to anaerobic work – which typically involves a short high-intensity effort followed by static rest for a few seconds -, and aerobic work – where you’re constantly moving at the same pace -, fartlek training involves running at different speeds and intensities, usually over a period of 20 to 30 minutes.

Fartlek training was invented by a Swedish Olympian in the 1930s!

Fartlek training can also be done with the ball, which makes it a perfect way to supplement your anaerobic and aerobic fitness training to make sure you’re leaving no stones unturned and getting the most out of your work to be ready on gameday.

Overall, I just think it’s a great method to add to your fitness routine. From my experience playing at a high level in football and coaching many pros, a bonus to fartlek is that it can be less monotonous than steady-state cardio or interval training.

As always, just make sure you properly plan out your workouts according to your level, your goals and your experience to get the best results possible.



My Point:

The whole point of showing you both types of fitness relevant to football players was to explain that fitness is multidimensional.


There is no single way to get match fit as a footballer, it’s a combination of working on both anaerobic and aerobic fitness. 

If you’re only focusing on anaerobic, sure you’ll be explosive and perform well for short periods of time, but you probably won’t be ready to play 90 minutes at that intensity…

which is where aerobic fitness comes into play.

Although most people out there believe anaerobic fitness training is the single most important method to get match fit, I can tell you from experience and tons of research that combining it with aerobic and fartlek is a game-changer.

Sure, your intense hill sprints might be sexier on Instagram than a long run at a steady pace or fartlek training, but there’s a place for all three of these in a footballer’s fitness program!



4- Nothing Replaces Matches:

At the end of the day, you can work on your fitness individually for weeks, but nothing will ever replace actual matches to reach optimal fitness levels.


In general, playing the game is the best way to get match fit!

Now, I’ll say it again: this shouldn’t be an excuse to not work on your fitness during the off-season!

Way too many footballers fully rely on pre-season games to get back up to speed fitness-wise, with no prior preparation.

Like I said before, if you just rely on pre-season friendlies, you are much more likely to get injured.

This will make it hard to break into the starting lineup, or at worst pick up a muscle strain because your body won’t be ready for the stress that comes with pre-season training.

That’s why my number one tip is to supplement your off-season anaerobic/aerobic fitness training with pick-up games! 



Pick-up games are a great way to replicate actual games and build fitness, but also sharpen up your technical skills and touch before hopping into pre-season.

Find players in your area that are motivated to play serious pick-up and optimally, play with high level players that are ambitious and motivated like yourself.

Ideally you want to gather some high-level players, or players that are at least as good as you to make it effective.

With all that work, coming into pre-season, you’ll realistically be at 70-80% of your match fitness.

Essentially, that is your goal.

You won’t be 100% match fit coming into pre-season because you haven’t been playing competitive matches.

And, competitive matches bring out a different type of level. You can’t replicate that type of stress during individual runs or pick up games.

It’s entirely different…

But if you come in to preseason 70-90% fit, the preseason training and games will just allow you to fully “sharpen” yourself for the start fo the season.

The pre-season games will allow you to reach top form quickly and fine-tune your fitness, but you’ll be able to focus solely on your performance and collective tactical shape because your fitness will take care of itself, unlike some of your teammates who did zero fitness training during the off-season.



5-Sample Off-Season Fitness Program:


Here is a two-week fitness program that you can use in your off-season. Of course, adjust sets and reps according to your fitness levels, and where you are in the off-season.

Also, if you’ve played a ton of games and you were a regular starter, I would recommend taking 7-14 days of complete rest to allow your body and mind to recover.

During the first week of the off-season, I wouldn’t recommend doing intense fitness work.

Instead, go out 3 or 4 times during the week with the ball and get a feel for your touch again.

As always, we want to build slowly, progressively overload and not rush things.

That’s why it’s so important to time your training properly and have a highly educated coach help you program your sessions.

You may think it’s a lot of money..



But, a personal coach is one of the best investments you can ever make.

Look at all the top-level footballers in the world.

They all have a personal coach.

Anyway, getting into some light ball work during your first week will give you the cardiovascular foundation to do the program below.

You can star this in the 2nd week of your off-season training.


How to Become Match Fit for Football Sample Plan:



Before getting into any of these sessions, please make sure you get into a proper dynamic warmup.


As always, the last thing we want to do is get injured.


Week 1:



(This is a mini circuit mixing bodyweight work with running)

Step 1: Do a 30s high intensity run (you can go from one edge of the box to the other AND back on a full-size field, obviously this depends on where you train).

2- Jumping lunges (30s)

3-30s rest

>> Repeat this cycle 4-8 times

*This works your anaerobic fitness



30-45 minute long, steady state run at 70% of max heart rate (135-150 bpm for most footballers)

*This works your aerobic fitness



30-75 Minutes of Individual technical work.



Fartlek Training

10 Minutes of Work

5 Minutes Total:

10 Second Sprint

10 Second Jog

16 Sets

2 Minutes Rest

5 Minutes:

20 Seconds Sprint

20 Seconds Jog

8 Sets

2 Minutes Rest




30-45 minute long, steady state run at 70% of max heart rate (135-150 bpm for most footballers)



Yoga and Regeneration



Pick-up game for 1-2 hours



Week 2:


Monday :

45 minute long, steady state run at 70% of max heart rate (135-150 bpm for most footballers)


Tuesday :

Hill Sprints

-Before starting, make sure you do a very good warm up.

-Hill Sprints are very grueling and tough on the body.

-You will do a total of 2-3 Sets

-Your Rest is the walk down the hill.

-Rest 2 Minutes after each set.

The hill sprint should be about 5-15 seconds

Weeks 1 & 2: 6 Reps Each Set

Weeks 3 & 4: 8 Reps Each Set



Rest 3 Minutes after completing sets & reps.



Bike ride at 80% max heart rate (135-150 bpm)

 Time: Each round will last 8 minutes total.

Rest: 2 mins

Total Sets: 3

Resistance: Good Resistance (between 5-10)



  1. Pedal as fast as you can for a steady 8 minutes.

-Your aim is to cover as much distance as possible.

-Once you finish the 8 minutes, record the number of KM or Miles that

you achieve.

  1. Hop off the bike & rest for 2 minutes.

-Actively stretch during your rest.
3. Try to beat that distance the next round.

  1. Record your number again.
  2. Repeat for one more round.
  3. You are looking to improve that each week. COMPETE AGAINST YOURSELF.


4-minute Bout Intervals:


Please do this on a soft surface. Hopefully on grass.

Stay away from hard surface like the street and concrete.

-It’s not good for your joints and body.

The best choice is to do this session outside on a soft surface.

If your only choice is the concrete or treadmill, do the treadmill.


4-minute Bout Intervals:

-Outside or on a Treadmill (Your Choice)

(32 minutes work)

4 sets Total (up and down):

-Toggle between paces/speeds depending if you do it outside or on a treadmill. Keep yourself “running” the entire time. The jog is your rest.


4 Minutes

Outside: 80-85% Pace (This is a Pace that’s hard and a pace that you know will get you fit. When you hit the pace, you will know)

Treadmill Speed: Between 15.2 km/h(9.5 mph)-18.0 km/h (11.0 mph)

4 minutes

Outside: 50-60% Pace (This is a light recovery jog)

Treadmill Speed: Between 9km/h (5.5 mph) -10.4 km/h (6.5 mph)




15 Minutes of Work:

5 Minutes Total:

10 Second Sprint

10 Second Jog

16 Sets


2 Minutes Rest


5 Minutes:

20 Seconds Sprint

20 Seconds Jog

8 Sets


2 Minutes Rest


5 Minutes Total:

10 Second Sprint

10 Second Jog


16 Sets


>> Aerobic fitness



Yoga and Regeneration



Pick-up game for 1-2 hours or longer distance run.





You can repeat this for 2 extra weeks and progressively overload, depending on the length of your off-season and how your body reacts.

Your goal is to either cut rest times, add an extra set or aim for a slightly higher heart rate for example.

As always, it’s all about progression!

This will give you a solid month-long fitness program.

Supplement this with ball work and gym work during the week, based on your experience and fitness levels.

Like I said before, please make sure you always get a solid warmup and cooldown before and after your sessions.

If done with quality and intensity, your technical work and gym work will also improve your fitness levels, so there is no need to overdo the fitness work.



I would recommend combining your gym and fitness work with football-specific workouts (on the ball) from the RicFit Academy App. This will definitely help you be sharp and ready for pre-season!


Try out your 7 Day Free Trial Here:


 If your body is feeling super tired, it might be better to replace your fitness workout with some yoga for instance.

Of course, off-season is the best time to push your body, but stay smart and never overdo it!

You want to come into pre-season fresh and ready to go, but not exhausted.



A Quick Sum-Up on How to Become Match Fit as a Footballer:

To conclude, being match fit is a non-negotiable for you as a footballer.

This is especially true as you rise up the ranks and leagues.

Players at the top level are all super fit, so don’t let your lack of fitness keep you from reaching your goals!

Like we spoke about in the intro, the fitter you are, the more consistently you will make better decisions during games, which will allow you to play with more composure, which will make you a more confident player.

Plus, it’s been scientifically proven that teams that run more have a greater chance of winning games.

So, if you’re fit and able to cover the ground for your team, you’ll be a key asset for your coach!

That being said, don’t overthink match fitness: just make it a priority to work hard on your fitness during off-season and you’ll see the results during the season!

Also, if you’re fitter than all of your teammates during pre-season testing, your coach will notice that and greatly appreciate it.



You’ll immediately make a great first impression, and first impressions are very important!

Ultimately, playing football matches is the best way to stay fit, so make it a priority to break into that starting 11 from the beginning.

This was you won’t have to worry about staying fit during the season if you’re playing week in, week out.

Nothing worse than warming the bench and then having to do extra runs to make up for your lack of matches…

Trust me, I’ve been there.


Otherwise, I wouldn’t know the feeling.

If you want to skyrocket your progress and guarantee to be the fittest player on the field, and have a fully individualized blueprint for your training, nutrition and recovery, I highly encourage you to apply to my 1-on-1 training program:


Make sure you crush this week and get those 3 points on the weekend!

And remember, it’ll be that much easier if you’re match fit 😉


Much love,