Soccer requires endurance, strength and short bursts of speed throughout a match. Just ask Real Salt Lake, winners of the 2009 MLS Cup. Their lower-body stability series, created by head athletic trainer Jake Joachim, is a model for any soccer player training to get to the next level.
Joachim begins the series with Single-Leg Balance Throws. Standing on one leg, the players balance on an unstable piece of foam, throw a tennis ball against a wall and catch it with two hands. The exercise challenges the players to maintain stability and enhances balance in the lower extremities.
Next, RSL players wrap a Thera-Band around their ankles to add resistance for Lateral Shuffles. Joachim says by stepping from side to side in the athletic position, “they’re working on their gluteus medius and core stability.”
The series concludes with Partner Anterior Tibialis Raises. Joachim: "One player sits on the ground, knees at 90 degrees, ankles bent and toes pointed to the sky while his partner applies resistance. More resistance is applied during the toes' lift than descent. The muscle we’re working on is the anterior tibialis, a small muscle along the shin that often gets neglected."
The goal of this series is to challenge proprioception [ability to sense position], which is a cornerstone to enhancing speed, strength and quickness. Add this series to your workout and increase your chances of beating a defender with a hard cut to the box, and get wide open for a goal.
Real Salt Lake Lower-Body Stability Series
Reps/Sets: 2x15 each leg or direction when appropriate