Developing power is important for any soccer player. Soccer requires speed, power, strength, technical skills and great conditioning. The following exercises should be a part of a soccer player’s program to help them become faster, stronger and more explosive.
Soccer is about running, sprinting, changing directions, kicking and levering off one side of your body to kick. You need strength on each leg, because they are frequently doing different things. With this in mind, the Split Squat is a great exercise to develop the strength base you need to be more explosive.
- Begin with the barbell on the back of your shoulders.
- Stand up tall, stick your chest out and pull your shoulders back.
- Take a step forward with your right foot.
- Take a big step back with your left foot.
- Keeping your upper body tall, lower yourself using your right leg until you have a 90 degree angle at your right knee and hip.
- Reverse directions.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then switch legs.
Note: Beginners normally start with somewhere around 30% of their Back Squat.
Soccer players need a strong posterior chain to be able to run, change directions and jump. Not only must the hamstrings be strong, they need to be strong in the lengthened position to prevent hamstring strains, which plague soccer players. The Romanian Deadlift is the ideal exercise to address all these things.
- Grip the bar with an overhand gips, hands about shoulder-width apart.
- Stand up with the bar in your hands. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
- Stand up tall, pull your shoulders back and stick your chest out. There should be a slight bend in your knees.
- Keeping your arms straight, push your hips back. You should begin to lean forward, allowing the bar to slide down your thighs. Keep the bar close to your body.
- Lean forward as far as you comfortably can, then reverse directions.
- Remember, the movement is coming from your hips.
I try to get my athletes eventually to be able to lift the same amount of weight on this exercise as they can Squat.
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The Split Clean trains you to be strong and explosive on each leg.
- Stand up with the bar in your hands, using the same grip you use on the Power Clean.
- Pull your shoulders back and stick your chest out.
- Keeping your arms straight, unlock your knees and push your hips back. As you do this, allow the bar to slide down your thighs until it is midway between your knees and your hips.
- Explosively extend your hips, shrug your shoulders up, and rise up on your toes. This forces the bar to move up along your body.
- Relax your arms and allow this to happen.
- When the bar reaches chest height, split both feet. One foot should move forward and land flat with your hip and knee flexed. The other foot should move backwards and land on the ball of the foot, with a slight bend at the knee.
- Reverse directions and stand up.
- Go back to the starting position. Perform the lift with the other foot forward.
- Continue alternating feet until the desired number of reps have been performed.
Sets/Reps: 3-5×2-4 each leg
People typically begin this exercise with 30 percent of their Power Clean.
Bounds teach you how to run explosively. For this exercise you need a flat course, preferably grass or turf. To perform Bounds, take an exaggerated sprinting motion—i.e., lift one knee up, keep your foot flat, land on the ball of your foot, spring up off the ground and switch legs in in the air, etc.—maintaining good technique while taking as few strides as possible to cover a given distance.
- Use good technique. That means knee up, foot flat, land on the ball of your foot, leg pretty straight when it lands on the ground.
- You are a spring. This means you will cover a lot of distance with each stride and also move higher into the air than you normally would during a run.
- Your goal is to cover the distance in as few strides as possible. Keep track of how many strides it takes you to cover a distance.
Sets/Distance: 3-5×20-100 meters
When your form breaks down, you should stop.
The lower leg can be a weak link for a soccer player. Ankle Hops help prevent injuries and make you a more explosive athlete. You need a flat course.
- Stand up tall and put your hands on your hips so you can’t use them.
- Rise up onto your toes.
- Using only your calves, hop down the course. This drill should also be done backwards and in zig-zag patterns. Advanced athletes do this on one foot at a time.
Sets/Distance: 3-5×20-40 meters
Sample Workout Plan
- Split Squats: 3×8-12 @ 30% of Back Squat on each leg
- Goblet Squats: 3×12-15
- Romanian Deadlifts: 3×8-12
- Dumbbell Bench Press: 3×8-12
- Pull-Ups: 3xMax
- Speed/agility training:
- 10-15 minutes of mobility drills
- Ankle Hops: 3×30 meters (10 meters forward, 10 meters backwards, 10 meters zig-zag)
- Bounds: 3×30 meters
- Sprints: 3×40 meters
- Small sided games: 3×5 minutes
- Split Cleans: 3×2-4 @ 30% of Power Clean on each leg
- Clean Pulls: 3×4-6 @ 60-70% of Power Clean
- Dumbbell Split Jerk: 3×2-4 on each leg
- Hurdle Hops, 3×10 meters
- Front Squats: 3×6-10 @ 70-80%
- Lunges: 3×8-12 on each leg
- Reverse Hyperextensions: 3×15-20
- Dumbbell Incline Press: 3×12-15
- Pull-Ups: 3xMax
- Either circuit training or small-sided games for conditioning
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