If you’ve ever played soccer or watched a game, you’ll know that it’s basically one big fitness test: You have to run—a lot—plus be agile, quick, and have strength in your legs to actually kick the ball.
We sat down with one particularly fit midfielder to find out more about his offseason workouts and what it takes to get in pro-footballer shape. Massimo Luongo is a New Balance-sponsored midfielder for the Australian International Football team and Championship side Queens Park Rangers. He’s known for his great balance and agility on the field.
On the next page, he talks about the drills he uses to fine tune both skills, plus the street style craze that’s back in England, food, and more.
Read the interview on the next page >>>
Men’s Fitness: What kind of drills do you do to enhance your balance and agility on the field?
Luongo: Physically, without the ball, I do a lot of explosive movements. Ladder work in our warmups, cone work, quick feet around cones. In the gym, I think it’s more explosive and power work like box jumps. I don’t do too much weight stuff.
MF: Why not? You don’t want to pack on too much muscle?
Luongo: I’ve done that before. I’ve tried to get a bit of upper body strength and I felt like it just slowed me down. I’m quite nippy and short—I like short and sharp movements. I try to focus mostly on explosive leg stuff like box jumps and squats. A lot of it is just to prevent injury to my knees and my ankle and balance and mobility work.
MF: Speaking of running and endurance, what do you do to get that stamina?
Luongo: It’s difficult because there’s a balance between just getting yourself up to a certain level of fitness for pre-season where you have to run for a long distance.
MF: What is the longest distance you have to run?
Luongo: Well I’ve done 1000 meter runs like, repetitively six or seven times. It’s terrible. I understand that it is necessary to get to you a level where you can be fine in the game—when the area might be bigger so you have to run more.
MF: How much—outside of sheer talent and the physical strength—does your mentality come into play?
Luongo: I think 90% is mental. I like to be the luxury player that looks good and is on the ball and can do anything with the ball. I want to be like that, but you just cant. It gets you to a level where you’re noticed but to maintain that level is difficult. You need to be mentally strong to accept criticism, the highs and the lows, and to keep that level of performance is difficult if you’re that type of player.
MF: Do you do any sports psychology? Visualizing or meditation?
Luongo: I don’t. I don’t feel like I’m the type of player who needs it, but one of my good mates does and a lot of clubs provide all that stuff for you. A lot of it is with a psychologist. It helps, it has a good effect on my friends.
MF: What do you think about the New Balance Visaro boots (cleats)?
Luongo- The boots are nice! A lot of research and effort has gone into developing these boots and they feel great to play in and the color is nice too.
MF: Are you into street style as well as style on the field?
Luongo: Yes I am. These shoots are cool. Being a part of a brand is cool because you get their gear!
MF: Is there a New Balance shoe that you wear regularly?
Luongo: Old school is coming back in England and New Balance is the king of old school. It’s nice to wear them.
MF: What would you say is your number one essential must-have—the one can’t-live-without-it product?
Luongo: Trainers are the obvious one. I have loads.
MF: Do you have a strict diet?
Lunogo: Not strict. I try to stay away from gluten, processed foods, breads, I know my body. Bread kills me!
MF: What’s your post-match meal?
Luongo: Breakfast is waffles. There’s a place near me that does waffles with bacon, egg on top, and syrup. When I play a game, I think about the food in the morning. If I don’t play for ages, I miss it. But if I don’t train for a couple weeks I cant [eat it]—because I’ll feel guilty.
MF: Do you have any pre-match rituals?
Luongo: I always put my right shoe on first. I always used to put my right side stuff on. Then I got terrible and if I felt like I put one thing on wrong I’d have to redo the whole thing. All that superstition got in my head a bit too much. So I said, scrap it!
MF: How do you break that superstition in your head?
Luongo: The one time I did I played alright.
MF: So you probably see that it’s okay and then it trains your brain to change.
Luongo: But then if you don’t play well you think ‘oh, I should go back to how I was doing it before.’ But, I have a good balance now.
Massimo Luongo wears the New Balance Football Galaxy / Bright Cherry Visaro boot. To find out more about New Balance Football go to newbalance.com/football or follow @NBFootball on Twitter and Instagram