How Many Hours Should Soccer Players Train Per Week?

This is not an easy question to answer, especially in youth athletics.

The answer is very athlete-dependent and has so many factors to think about:

  • How many hours is his/her body prepared to train?
  • Does the athlete have a recurring injury to watch?
  • What is (s)he doing to prepare for more hours of training?
  • How is the athlete recovering?
  • How many sports is the athlete playing?
  • Is (s)he in-season? Off-season?
  • Is the athlete working towards collegiate or professional soccer?

Take on too few hours, and you miss out on developing to your full potential.

Take on too many hours, and you risk overtraining. You’ll only know if you’ve over-trained when it’s too late.

Overtraining can look like:

There are general recommendations that can help players and parents plan ahead and avoid overtraining.

Then, you can make informed decisions about your own training and activity regimen.

Here’s something to think about.

Recommended Training Hours in Youth Soccer

According to US Youth Soccer, players shouldn’t be training for more than 18-20 hours per week.

If you are well under this threshold, incrementally adding training hours isn’t a problem as long as nutrition and recovery is prioritized.

Aches, pains, fatigue, and anxiety are reasons to back off.

Anything more than 20 hours requires close monitoring by a pediatrician, or better yet, a pediatrician who has worked closely with young athletes.

But wait… professionals make soccer their job. How do they do it?

Train Like The Pros… Sort Of

Players should be careful comparing their training regimen to elite players.

I’ve come across pages online that advise young players to train just like the pros to get to higher levels, but that’s a dangerous recommendation without some context.

Let’s discuss the most vulnerable time for athletes: in-season training and competition.

How the Pros Do It

Elite clubs can train and compete up to 30 hours per week during preseason and competitive season.

It’s easy to assume that all 30 hours require strict training. They’re professionals, after all. They are required to work hard and get results, right?

Yes, but it doesn’t look how you may think.

For example, the Premier League’s typical in-season monthly schedule prioritizes light training the day before a fixture and recovery sessions the morning after each fixture. There are even off-days sprinkled in. (1)

Check this out. This month consists of:

  • 16 light practices or recovery sessions
  • 9 competitive days
  • 3 off-days
  • 3 soccer training days with strengthening later in the day

From “Practical nutritional recovery strategies for elite soccer players when limited time separates repeated matches”

Notice the lack of soccer training days here.

Most of the harder training days, on the field and in the gym, happen during preseason. Preseason is the time to get players conditioned for competition, thereby heightening that overtraining threshold.

During season, it’s about injury prevention, recovery, and getting the mind and body ready for match days.

What do light training and recovery days look like? Coach Ian helps answer that question.

Light Training Days

From Coach Ian, referring to his collegiate and professional experience:

“Light training the day before games looked different than other training days. It always involved a long warmup and injury prevention drills. Then we get into light passing drills. Drills usually progressed into team form, where we’d go over team tactics in the form of a light scrimmage.

Light training days got our bodies and brains ready to compete. They weren’t meant to be demanding.”

Recovery Days

From Coach Ian, continued:

“Recovery days also involved an extensive warmup, a bit lower intensity than light training. There were many times where we would go into the pool and work on our movement there.

Other times, we would be on the field. We would do light ball work, often broken up by foam rolling sessions and stretching. There was always a big focus on team bonding during recovery days.”

Days Off

From Coach Ian, continued:

“On a college level, we would get 1 day off per week during season, if we were lucky. We took it.

On a professional level, it’s highly dependent on the coach. It ranged between 1-2 days off per week. Some people took those days off completely, and some people did some cross-training like light strengthening or swimming. Some managers don’t care how you spend your days off, and some are more strict about taking them off completely or doing some independent recovery/cross-training. They usually trust us to do what’s best for our wellbeing, then come back ready to play.”

Professionals Have Help

Don’t forget that elite soccer players have access to a network of professionals who make sure they stay healthy before and during season:

  • Soccer coaches who understand concepts in training volumes.
  • Team physicians who perform preseason physicals, including heart monitoring.
  • S&C coaches who prepare you for competition well before season starts, and know how to adjust during season.
  • Nutritionists who ensure that you are fueling yourself specific to your training demands.
  • Sport psychologists who help you handle the pressure of constant competition, success, and failures.
  • Athletic trainers and/or physios who know how to advise you after an injury, no matter the severity.

Professional players have systems in place to make sure overtraining doesn’t happen, even if they are training 30 hours per week.

In essence, they follow the recommendation from US Youth Soccer, but it’s easier for the pros. Doctors and trainers are included in their contracts.

What Does This Mean for Young Soccer Players?

There is no bottom line aside from prioritizing the athlete’s well-being over performance. If the athlete trains and recovers well where it counts, the performance comes.

  • Watch your training volume, especially during season.
  • Fuel yourself appropriately.
  • Prioritize recovery and sleep.
  • Pay attention to how your body feels and don’t ignore warning signs of overtraining.
  • Get professional guidance if training exceeds the recommended 20 hours per week.


  1. Ranchordas, Mayur & Dawson, Joel & Russell, Mark. (2017). Practical nutritional recovery strategies for elite soccer players when limited time separates repeated matches. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 14. 10.1186/s12970-017-0193-8.

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