Soccer Players: Eliminate Leg Weakness

February 15, 2013 | Ben Yauss

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Soccer is one of the most demanding sports in the world, requiring incredible endurance, speed, strength and power to perform the movements and skills of the pitch. When trying to improve these aspects of their game, most soccer players focus on their dominant kicking leg; however, the non-dominant, or plant leg, is equally important.

Soccer is played in all directions. You must be able to juke a defender to both sides or quickly explode in any direction to get a loose ball.

Developing each leg independently with single-leg exercises helps you strengthen your weak leg so you can move effortlessly around the pitch. Plus, it helps prevent injury from muscle weakness or imbalances that can occur from repeatedly performing a single-side dominant skill, like kicking and passing.

Develop your weak leg with these five single-leg exercises to increase overall lower-body strength and stability, power, acceleration and agility, and to add pace and power to your passing and striking.

Soccer Single-Leg Workout

Single-Leg Squat

Builds a foundation of strength and stability in your lower body, which helps when performing all movements on the pitch, and when planting and striking a ball.

Procedure

Start on one foot. Squat down and back on one leg until glute touches bench. Return to starting position. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps on each leg.

Coaching Keys

Keep chest up and back flat. Keep your knee from collapsing to inside of your foot.

You should feel it

Glutes, Hamstrings and Quads

Single-Leg Squat

Single-Leg RDL

Builds strength in your hamstrings and glutes to increase your speed, while challenging your stability to improve when cutting and changing direction.

Procedure

Stand on one foot holding dumbbells at your sides. Hinge from your hips, lowering the dumbbells as the non-support leg extends behind you. Return to starting position, contracting your glutes and hamstrings. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 6 to 10 reps.

Coaching Keys

Do not let your back round. Your torso and leg should move as one unit with your shoulder blades back and down. Check out STACK's Exercise of the Week: Single-Leg RDL for more coaching tips.

You should feel it

Glutes, Hamstring, and Back

Single-Leg RDL

Single-Leg Drop Squats

Improves your ability decelerate on the pitch by teaching you how to absorb shock, store and release energy. Learning to decelerate is crucial when changing direction or planting when kicking a ball.

Procedure

Start standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Drop to a single leg squat position as quickly as you can by sitting your hips down and back and keeping your knee behind your toes. Return to starting position and repeat for 2 sets of 6 to 10 reps on each leg.

Coaching Keys

Move with speed while keeping your chest up and back flat. Keep your knee from collapsing to inside of your foot.

You should feel it

Hips and legs

Single-Leg Squat Exercise

Single-Leg Linear Hops

Increases ankle, knee and hip stability, while also improving your power to help with more explosive sprints, movements and kicking power.

Procedure

Stand on one leg in front of hurdles. Hop over hurdle, sticking and landing on same leg. Continue over remaining hurdles for 2-3 sets of 6 hurdles.

Coaching Keys

Land softly by absorbing shock with your hips and glutes. On takeoff, push and extend through your hips. Do not let your knee collapse to inside of your foot on takeoff or landing.

You should feel it

Hips and leg

Hurdle Hops

3-Hurdle to Stabilization

Improves your quickness and cutting ability, while also teaching your body how to decelerate and stabilize. On the pitch, this drill helps when you need to cut and change direction, as well as when planting to kick a ball.

Procedure

Stand to the side of three hurdles in base position. Shuffle through hurdles with high knees, then stick and hold on outside leg on far side of hurdles. Perform in reverse direction to return to starting position and repeat for 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.

Coaching Keys

Keep your knees and toes up as you step over hurdles. Use your arms throughout the movement. Stabilize by dropping into a single-leg base position on outside leg.

You should feel it

Your entire body, primarily your hips and legs when stabilizing on outside leg

Hurdle Stabilization

Learn more about Athletes’ Performance and the professional and elite athletes they support on the Athletes’ Performance page on STACK.

 

Ben Yauss
- A performance specialist with Athletes’ Performance, Ben Yauss is in his fifth season as head strength and conditioning coach for the LA Galaxy, where he...
Ben Yauss
- A performance specialist with Athletes’ Performance, Ben Yauss is in his fifth season as head strength and conditioning coach for the LA Galaxy, where he...
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