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Now that soccer season has ended, how would you grade your overall performance? Would you benefit from building more upper-body muscle to throw the ball farther downfield? Greater leg strength for a more powerful kick? Or perhaps improved agility and endurance? (See Strength Training for Soccer with Functional Circuit Workout.)
Get a jump-start on next year's season by addressing these issues; and make sure you're in top shape when soccer resumes with the following exercise combos. This offseason-conditioning program focuses on core, upper- and lower-body strength, vertical leaping ability, endurance and agility—all key components when you're running in multiple directions up and down the field.
The only equipment needed for the combos are a one- or two-foot box or weight bench; a moderately heavy (12- to 15-pound) medicine ball; and six cones for agility movements. Do a dynamic warm-up beforehand and finish with cool-down static upper- and lower-body stretches to promote flexibility.
Box Jumps/Push-ups Combo
Sets/Reps: Perform sequence without resting in five reps, then four, three, two and one. Rest 60 seconds and repeat both movements.
The exercise combination will help your ability to decelerate to a sudden stop on the soccer field, then reaccelerate quickly. This is because it builds endurance while also strengthening the hips, legs, shoulders, arms and chest through an explosive plyometric movement.
- Assume athletic stance facing box approximately one foot away
- Holding med ball overhead, squat and rapidly jump onto box with both feet, pause one second, and jump back off
- Land in starting squat position and immediately jump on box again and back off, this time without pausing
- Repeat three more jumps
- Without rest, go into a push-up position with both hands on medicine ball and perform five Push-Ups
Medicine Ball Throws/Run In Place
Overhead med ball throws will boost your upper body strength and develop the power you need to toss the ball further into play from the sidelines. Running in place is an endurance-builder.
- Holding med ball overhead, assume athletic stance facing wall about three feet away
- Bend arms and explosively throw ball against wall
- Catch ball on the rebound and immediately run in place for 15 seconds holding ball overhead
- Drive knees high toward waist while running
- Continue ball throw/catch/run sequence four more times
- Rest 60 seconds for a water break and repeat sequence
Plyometric Push-Ups/Zigzag Sprints/Prone Plank Combo
An effective upper-body and core strengthener. The sprints enhance endurance and multi-directional agility, both critical on the field.
- Arrange six cones in zigzag pattern about five yards apart
- Perform five Plyometric Push-Ups, then sprint around each cone
- Backpedal to start
- Immediately do four Plyo Push-Ups and Zigzag Sprints, return, and end with three Plyo Push-Ups/Sprints
- Without resting, assume elevated prone plank position on box or bench for 45 seconds
- Rest 60 seconds, hydrate, and repeat sequence