Fartlek Training for Soccer Players: Boost Speed, Stamina, and Agility

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Soccer is a demanding sport that requires a combination of speed, stamina, and agility. One effective way for soccer players to improve their overall fitness and performance is through Fartlek training, a Swedish term meaning “speed play.”

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This comprehensive guide will explore how Fartlek training can benefit soccer players, provide sample workouts, and offer tips for incorporating this versatile training method into your soccer fitness routine.


Key Takeaway

Fartlek Training for Soccer PlayersFartlek training is beneficial for soccer players by improving speed, stamina, and agility, mimicking the dynamic movements and energy demands of the sport.
Soccer-Specific Fartlek WorkoutsDesign Fartlek workouts to include short sprints, longer intervals at various intensities, and changes of direction to simulate the demands of soccer and enhance sport-specific fitness.
Sample Soccer-Specific Fartlek WorkoutWarm-up: 10 minutes light jogging and dynamic stretching; Main set: 20-30 minutes of alternating short sprints, moderate-intensity runs, and changes of direction; Cool-down: 10 minutes easy jogging and stretching.
Progression and AdaptationGradually increase the intensity, duration, and complexity of soccer-specific Fartlek workouts to continually challenge the body and stimulate speed, stamina, and agility improvements.
Varying Workouts for Continued ImprovementIncorporate a variety of soccer-specific Fartlek workouts with different interval lengths, speeds, and movement patterns to keep the body challenged and avoid plateaus in performance.
Balancing Fartlek Training and RecoveryEnsure adequate recovery between Fartlek workouts and soccer training sessions by incorporating easy days, rest days, and lower-intensity workouts into the training schedule to avoid overtraining and injury.
Combining Fartlek with Soccer-Specific DrillsCombine Fartlek training with sport-specific drills focused on ball control, passing, shooting, and defensive skills to maximize soccer performance.
Setting Performance GoalsSet specific performance goals related to speed, stamina, and agility to help focus soccer-specific Fartlek workouts and measure progress over time.

Understanding Fartlek Training:

Fartlek training involves alternating between periods of higher intensity and recovery during a continuous run. Unlike traditional interval training, Fartlek workouts are less structured and more spontaneous, with speed bursts and recovery intervals determined by how you feel and the terrain you’re running on.

Why Fartlek Training is Ideal for Soccer Players:

Mimics game conditions:

Soccer involves frequent pace, direction, and intensity changes. Fartlek training closely simulates these game-like conditions, making it a practical training method for soccer players.

Improves aerobic and anaerobic fitness:

The combination of continuous running and speed bursts in Fartlek training improves both your aerobic and anaerobic fitness, contributing to overall performance improvement.

Enhances agility and acceleration:

Fartlek training helps develop the ability to quickly change speeds and directions, a crucial skill for soccer players.

Fartlek TrainingFartlek training is a form of continuous training that incorporates varied intensity levels throughout the workout, allowing for improvements in both aerobic and anaerobic capacities, which can benefit athletes of all levels, including soccer players.Reaburn, P., & Dascombe, B. (2008). Endurance performance in masters athletes. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 5(1), 31-42. 
Soccer PerformanceFartlek training can help soccer players boost their speed, stamina, and agility by incorporating short, high-intensity bursts of running within a continuous workout, which can lead to enhanced neuromuscular adaptations and increased running economy.Impellizzeri, F. M., Marcora, S. M., Castagna, C., Reilly, T., Sassi, A., Iaia, F. M., & Rampinini, E. (2006). Physiological and performance effects of generic versus specific aerobic training in soccer players. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 27(6), 483-492.  
Agility and StaminaFartlek training can help improve soccer-specific stamina and agility through increased aerobic capacity, anaerobic threshold, and the ability to recover quickly during low-intensity periods, which are essential for soccer players.Helgerud, J., Engen, L. C., Wisloff, U., & Hoff, J. (2001). Aerobic endurance training improves soccer performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 33(11), 1925-1931.  

Please note that these references are related to the benefits of Fartlek training and its impact on athletic performance in general, rather than specifically focusing on Fartlek training for soccer players to boost speed, stamina, and agility.


Read Also: Fartlek Training for Endurance Athletes: Boost Your Stamina and Performance

Fartlek Workouts for Soccer Players:

Basic Fartlek:

During a 20-30 minute run, alternate between periods of sprinting, jogging, and walking to mimic the changing pace of a soccer game.

Soccer Field Fartlek:

Use the dimensions of a soccer field to create a Fartlek workout. Sprint the length of the field, then jog or walk the width. Repeat for a set number of laps or duration.

Cone Drills Fartlek:

Set up cones on a field at varying distances and intervals. Sprint between cones, incorporating changes in direction and varying recovery intervals.

Here’s a 6-week Fartlek training plan for soccer players designed to improve speed, stamina, and agility. Please note that this plan should be adapted to each individual’s fitness level and should be combined with a proper warm-up and cool-down routine.

WeekFartlek WorkoutRecovery
15 x (1 min fast, 2 min slow)2 min rest between sets
24 x (2 min fast, 2 min slow)2 min rest between sets
36 x (1 min fast, 1 min slow, 30 sec sprint, 1 min slow)2 min rest between sets
43 x (3 min fast, 2 min slow, 1 min sprint)3 min rest between sets
54 x (2 min fast, 1 min slow, 1 min sprint, 1 min slow)2 min rest between sets
62 x (4 min fast, 1 min slow, 30 sec sprint, 30 sec slow, 1 min sprint)4 min rest between sets


  • Fast: Run at approximately 75-80% of your maximum speed.
  • Slow: Jog at a comfortable pace to maintain a continuous, steady-state effort.
  • Sprint: Push yourself to run at 90-95% of your maximum speed.

Remember to listen to your body and adjust the plan accordingly. If you feel any pain or discomfort during the training, stop and consult with a professional or your coach.

Tips for Successful Fartlek Training:

  • Warm up properly with dynamic stretches and light jogging before beginning your Fartlek workout.
  • Focus on maintaining proper running form during speed bursts, even as the intensity increases.
  • Listen to your body and adjust your workouts as needed, allowing for adequate rest and recovery between high-intensity sessions.

Incorporating Fartlek Training into Your Soccer Fitness Routine:

  • Aim to include Fartlek workouts 1-2 times per week, depending on your goals, fitness level, and overall training plan.
  • Combine Fartlek training with other forms of speed work, endurance training, and sport-specific drills for a well-rounded soccer fitness routine.
  • Schedule Fartlek sessions during the off-season or early-season training, gradually transitioning to more game-specific drills and exercises as the season approaches.

Measuring Progress and Adjusting Your Workouts:

  • Track your Fartlek workouts, including the duration, intensity, and distance covered, to measure progress over time.
  • Use a GPS watch or running app to monitor your pace and heart rate during your Fartlek sessions.
  • Regularly assess your performance in games and training sessions to make adjustments to your fitness plan as needed.
Comparison AspectFartlek TrainingSprint TrainingWeightliftingPlyometricsDeadliftAnaerobic ExerciseSingle-leg Squat
Speed DevelopmentXXX
Stamina DevelopmentXXXXXX
Agility DevelopmentXXXXX
Mimics Soccer DemandsXXXXX
Improves Anaerobic CapacityX
Improves Aerobic CapacityXXXXXX
Sport-Specific Movement PatternsXXXXX
Short, High-Intensity IntervalsXXX
Longer, Moderate-Intensity IntervalsXXXXXX
Variation in Workout StructureXXXXX
Requires Structured Rest IntervalsXX

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can Fartlek training be adapted for team training sessions?

Yes, Fartlek training can be adapted for team training sessions by having players perform the workouts together or in small groups, incorporating teamwork and camaraderie.

How can I make Fartlek training more soccer-specific?

Incorporate soccer-specific movements like dribbling, changes of direction, and lateral movements into your Fartlek workouts to make them more applicable to the sport.

Can Fartlek training help prevent injuries in soccer players?

Fartlek training can help improve overall fitness, strength, and agility, which may contribute to injury prevention. However, it’s essential to also include a proper warm-up, cool-down, and strength training to reduce the risk of injury.

Is Fartlek training good for soccer?

Fartlek training is excellent for soccer players because it closely mimics the demands of the sport. Soccer requires athletes to change their pace frequently, switching between sprinting, jogging, and walking. Fartlek training helps build cardiovascular endurance, speed, and agility, which are all essential for soccer performance.

How do footballers use Fartlek training?

Footballers use Fartlek training to simulate game situations, where they have to change pace and intensity constantly. A Fartlek workout for soccer players might involve alternating between sprinting, jogging, and walking on a soccer field. Players can also incorporate ball handling and dribbling exercises to enhance their technical skills during Fartlek sessions.

What type of training is best for soccer players?

The best training for soccer players includes a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercises, strength training, agility and speed drills, and sport-specific skills training. Fartlek training, interval workouts, and long, steady-state cardio sessions can help improve aerobic fitness, while short sprints, plyometrics, and resistance exercises can enhance anaerobic capacity, power, and strength.

What are examples of Fartlek training?

Here are two examples of Fartlek training:

Example 1:

  • Warm-up: 10-minute easy jog
  • Main workout: Alternate between 2 minutes of hard running and 1 minute of easy jogging for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Cool down: 10-minute easy jog

Example 2:

  • Warm-up: 10-minute easy jog
  • Main workout: Choose landmarks like trees or street signs and alternate between sprinting and jogging to each one for 20-30 minutes.
  • Cool down: 10-minute easy jog

What is a good interval running workout for soccer?

A suitable interval running workout for soccer could include:

  • Warm-up: 10-minute easy jog
  • Main workout: 8-10 sets of 100-meter sprints at maximum effort, with 1-minute active recovery (slow jogging) between each sprint.
  • Cool down: 10-minute easy jog

Fartlek training session example

A Fartlek training session for soccer could involve:

  • Warm-up: 10-minute easy jog
  • Main workout: On a soccer field, alternate between 30-second sprints, 30-second jogs, and 30-second walks for a total of 20 minutes. Incorporate ball handling and dribbling exercises for added sport-specificity.
  • Cool down: 10-minute easy jog

Benefits of Fartlek training for football

Some benefits of Fartlek training for football players include:

  • Improved cardiovascular endurance
  • Enhanced speed and agility
  • Better ability to change pace and direction
  • Increased mental focus and adaptability
  • Greater overall fitness

Interval training for football

Interval training for football could involve:

  • Warm-up: 10-minute easy jog
  • Main workout: 6-8 sets of 40-meter sprints, with 30 seconds of rest between each sprint.
  • Cool down: 10-minute easy jog

Fartlek training examples for beginners

For beginners, a gentle Fartlek workout could be:

  • Warm-up: 10-minute easy jog
  • Main workout: Alternate between 1 minute of moderately fast running and 2 minutes of easy jogging for a total of 15 minutes.
  • Cool down: 10-minute easy jog

Fartlek training sporting examples

Fartlek training can be adapted to various sports, such as:

  • Basketball: Players can alternate between sprinting and jogging on the court, varying the intensity and duration.
  • Tennis: Athletes can practice Fartlek

    training by sprinting and jogging between court lines or markers, changing direction and speed to simulate match play.

Advantages of fartlek training

Some advantages of Fartlek training include:

Versatility:  Can be adapted to different sports and fitness levels.

Improved endurance: Enhances both aerobic and anaerobic capacities.

Better speed and agility: Training at different intensities helps athletes become faster and more agile.

Mental preparation: Develops mental toughness and adaptability for unpredictable competition scenarios.

Engaging and enjoyable: The varied nature of Fartlek workouts keeps training sessions interesting and prevents boredom.

20-minute Fartlek run

A 20-minute Fartlek run might look like:

Warm-up: 5-minute easy jog

Main workout: 10-minute Fartlek session, alternating between 30-second sprints, 1-minute moderate-paced runs, and 1-minute easy jogs.

Cool down: 5-minute easy jog

Why is fartlek training good for basketball?

Fartlek training is beneficial for basketball players because it helps develop the cardiovascular endurance, speed, and agility required for the sport. Basketball involves frequent changes in pace and direction, and Fartlek training simulates these game demands by incorporating different running intensities.

Additionally, Fartlek workouts help improve mental focus and adaptability, which are crucial skills for basketball players during high-pressure game situations.



Fartlek training is an effective and enjoyable way for soccer players to improve their speed, stamina, and agility on the field.

 By incorporating Fartlek workouts into your soccer fitness routine, focusing on proper form, and listening to your body, you’ll be well on your way to reaching new levels of performance.

Combine Fartlek training with other forms of speed work, endurance training, and sport-specific drills for a well-rounded and dynamic soccer fitness program that keeps you engaged and motivated.

 Give Fartlek training a try, and watch your performance on the field soar.

John Smith is a passionate and experienced gym instructor, dedicated to empowering individuals to become the best versions of themselves through fitness. With over 10 years of professional experience, John has become a trusted authority in the health and wellness industry. Having worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels, John has developed a unique approach that combines a deep understanding of human anatomy and physiology with personalized fitness programs tailored to each client's goals and abilities. John's friendly and motivating demeanor enables him to build strong relationships with clients, guiding them on their journey to optimal health and wellness.

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