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Soccer players are well known for their incredible endurance, running an average distance of six miles during a 90-minute match. However, the game is never played at one speed. Soccer is more about power, consisting of bursts of speed, long distance strikes and leaping goaltenders staving off attacks from airborne forwards.
Since soccer is such a fast-paced game based on power, the best workouts for soccer players include plyometric exercises. Plyos allow muscles to achieve maximum force in the shortest time by using the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), the key to running faster and jumping higher. (Learn more about plyometrics.)
Each soccer position is unique, so you cannot take a "one size fits all" approach with your soccer plyo workout. To increase power specific to your position, make sure to perform plyos that match how you play soccer.
Goalkeeper Soccer Exercises
As the last line of defense, goalkeepers have a lot of weight on their shoulders. With such a large area to defend, they need the ability to get from one side of the net to the other in one move.
- Begin in athletic position balancing on right leg
- Load the leg by slightly bending your knee and sitting into your hips
- Bound (jump) laterally as high and far as possible, landing on opposite leg
- Absorb impact by landing in loaded position
- Swing arms to generate power and triple-extend through ankles, knees and hips
- Start by pausing for 3 seconds between bounds, then progress to quick repeats
Sets/Reps: 3-5x5-10, resting 1-2 minutes between sets
Defender Soccer Exercises
Defenders have it rough, especially when covering the other team's top scorer week after week. As a defender, you must be quick, agile and incredibly strong. With all the pushing and jockeying for position that goes on, it takes a great deal of strength to stand your ground in the penalty area during a free kick or corner kick.
- Start in traditional push-up position
- Lower chest to floor, then forcefully push yourself up so your hands leave floor
- Land softly with elbows bent, and repeat
- Keep core tight throughout entire movement
Sets/Reps: 4x5-10, resting 2 minutes between sets
Learn more great upper-body plyos.
Midfield Soccer Exercises
Midfielders control the action—they are the maestros of the soccer pitch. One of the most stunning plays in all of soccer is a brilliantly placed long distance strike or free kick. Accurately placing the ball over a wall of defenders and past a leaping goalkeeper takes unparalleled precision and power.
- Stand in staggered stance with right foot in front
- Lower into lunge position, keeping chest up and core tight
- Jump up as high as possible, scissor-kick your legs and land with left leg forward
- Alternate forward leg each set
Sets/Reps: 3-5x10-20, resting 2-3 minutes between sets
Forward/Striker Soccer Exercises
With the quickest feet, forwards (strikers) are the fastest players on the field, and they have incredible ball control. To improve as a forward, you need to develop quick and coordinated footwork to get lightning fast feet and an explosive first step.
- Create a "T" with tape on the ground roughly two feet by two feet
- Start by hopping with feet together, forward and backward as fast as you can, along the vertical line of the T
- Progress to lateral two-foot hops, diagonally, clockwise and counter-clockwise
- Progress to one-foot hops in all directions
The key to this drill is to limit ground contact time, moving as fast as possible.
Sets/Duration: 1x20 seconds each pattern