At Total Soccer, we believe soccer players are some of the best athletes in the world, and in our soccer classes for aspiring stars in Montgomery County, Bucks County, and the entire Philadelphia area, we teach and develop the intricate skills necessary to play at a high level.
But soccer is about more than talent and skill. It’s about more than speed. It’s also about strength. You simply won’t be a complete player unless you work on your strength.
Some people might look at soccer as a “running” sport in which endurance training is of utmost importance. The idea of strength training, or working out with weights, conjures up images of bulky muscles that would slow a player down.
Not so. Soccer is a very physical sport in which a player’s success – winning tackles, beating defenders 1-on-1, and positioning oneself to control a ball in the air – depends on strength. Being stronger than your opponents is a great advantage. You want strong legs, of course, but also a strong core and upper body.
Other benefits of strength training for soccer players include:
- Decreased risk of injury. Functional movements such as squatting and deadlifting strengthen the muscles that stabilize joints, such as hips and knees – and we know how knee injuries affect soccer players.
- Better balance. Developing strength enables a player to better control his or her body.
- More powerful movement. Striking the ball, changing direction in the field, making a save in goal, heading the ball – all of these skills require explosive power, and the definition of power is strength plus speed.
It’s important to note that in order to build strength, you don’t need to lift heavy weights. Light barbell, dumbbell, and kettlebell lifts, and even simple bodyweight exercises can go a long way to strengthen the legs, arms, and most important: the core. Focusing on proper form and continuing to stretch before and after a workout will ensure that flexibility is not lost in an effort to build strength.
Five Strength-building Exercises to Help Elevate Your Game
Try building these movements into your workout. The number of sets and repetitions can vary, depending on your fitness or experience level, but a good place to start is five sets of 10 reps.
- Goblet Squat. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands and draw in to your chest, then perform squats with chest high and weight on your heels. Try to get “below parallel,” or lower your butt below knee level as you squat.
- Weighted Step Ups. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell at chest level and step up onto a plyometric box or weight bench, switching lead legs with each repetition.
- Medicine Ball Slams. Raise the medicine ball above your head then slam it to the ground, being sure to keep a slight bend in your knees.
- Dumbbell rows. You can try “renegade rows,” in which the dumbbells start on the ground and you hold on to them while holding a plank. Lift one dumbbell to your chest, keeping your elbow close to your body, then lift the other. That counts as one repetition. Dumbbell rows also can be done standing up, with one hand on a box or bench while the other lifts the dumbbell. Switch arms every five repetitions.
- Resistance band work. The possibilities are endless with this simple piece of equipment. Two ideas are “face pulls,” in which the band is attached to a fence or post, at eye level, and you hold on to the band and pull it taut toward your face; and lateral “band walks,” in which you loop the band under your feet, and hold it at waist level – with a good amount of tension – and take 10 steps laterally to each side, with the band creating resistance. You’ll definitely feel that in your core!
Committing to a well-rounded training regimen will help make you the best soccer player you can be. Playing at an elite level takes a lot of hard work, but anyone who loves the game knows, it’s worth the effort. Happy training, and we’ll see you soon at our soccer classes in the Newtown, PA, area. With more strength and sharper skills, you’ll be unstoppable on the field this spring!