Soccer players, take note: strength training is as important as skill work. You must be more powerful than your opponents at any given moment, and a great time to address your strength needs is during the off-season. The summer months give you the chance to perform intense, power-focused workouts.
The goals of an off-season training program are simple—build strength and power. A conditioning base is definitely important and should not be ignored, but building strength and power is a priority at this point in the year.
After the season is finished, establish your baseline. If you don't know your start numbers, you'll have no idea if you're making gains. Test your max on the Bench Press and Squat. Then measure your Vertical Jump, 60-Yard Shuttle and body composition. This will give you a snapshot of your overall fitness before you start the program.
The beginning of the off-season is essential; it's your time to get strong in the weight room. The stronger you are, the more resistant you are to injury and the more able you become to win on-field battles. Begin your program by building strength in your big muscles—hips, back and chest. Also, focus on improving core stability. Go for a well-rounded, full-body approach in this phase.
I recommend a three-day-a-week program; it gives you rest after a long season but still builds strength. Full-body exercises, with a focus on explosive, compound movements, and secondary movements aimed at strengthening individual body parts provide the perfect balance.
Start each session by isolating your core lifts, such as the Power Clean, Bench Press, Squat or variations of these exercises. Then perform the secondary movements like Curls and Triceps Extensions in a circuit to get a time-efficient blast for your arms and legs.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article, which will provide a sample off-season soccer training program.
Jeremy Golden is an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Cornell University. He was previously the assistant strength coach at Colgate University and the first-ever strength coach for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds of the NBA Developmental League. In 2007, he served as the head strength coach for the Los Angeles Sparks. Golden received his bachelor's degree from The University of Tulsa and his master's degree in sports administration from the University of New Mexico. He holds certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, National Academy of Sports Medicine and USA Weightlifting.
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