Duke Soccer's Med Ball Massacre

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There's no denying it: soccer is a contact sport. Therefore, you must strengthen your chest and shoulders to prepare for the sport's rigors.

"It's important that soccer players work not only on maximal strength with heavy pressing and pulling exercises for their upper bodies, but also strength endurance and power, because they need to be able to handle the incidental contact that happens during a game … and to hold off defenders to protect the ball and increase power for throw-ins," says Dan Perlmutter, Duke University's head strength and conditioning coach for Olympic sports. "We do specific bodyweight exercises with these situations in mind."

To buff the Blue Devils for the upcoming season, Perlmutter puts them through a circuit called Med Ball Massacre once a week in the off-season at the end of workouts.

Med Ball Massacre

Circuit Rules

1. Perform circuit two to three times, with a two-minute rest between rounds
2. Use 3- to 5-kilo rubber-case med balls
3. Go through a full range of motion
4. Keep your back straight and head in neutral position
5. As you become stronger, increase both the number of reps of each exercise and the number of rounds of the circuit, and decrease the rest periods between rounds

Plyo Switch

• Assume Push-Up position with right hand on med ball and left hand on floor
• Lower until chest is at ball level
• Explosively push up and right off med ball; land with left hand on ball and right hand on ground; perform to left
• Repeat in alternating fashion for 5-6 reps each side

Rolling Switch

• Assume Push-Up position with one hand on med ball
• Perform Push-Up until both arms are straight
• Roll med ball to other hand; perform Push-Up
• Repeat in alternating fashion for 5-6 reps each side

Diamond Push-Up

• Assume Push-Up position with hands on med ball and thumbs and index fingers forming diamond
• Perform 6-10 Push-Ups

Two-Ball Push-Up

• Assume Push-Up position with hands on two med balls placed shoulder-width apart
• Perform 6-10 Push-Ups


• Assume Push-Up position with med ball on ground below chest
• Lower until chest touches ball
• Drive up into start position
• Perform as many as possible

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock