Isolating and working any single body part does not relate to how you move on the pitch, so you shouldn’t train that way. Marcus Kinney, men’s soccer and conditioning coach for the nationally ranked West Virginia Mountaineers, explains how this relates to training your calves: “The calves are the last link of a chain used when you run, jump, cut or kick. Your calves have to be trained a certain way to enhance their ability to dissipate explosive force to the ground.”
To work your calves in a way befitting a soccer player and not a bodybuilder, try the following exercise, which Kinney uses with his athletes once a week.
Single-Leg Overhead Med Ball Throw w/ Partner
• Stand on right leg facing partner who is six to 10 feet away from you and also on one leg
• Hold med ball overhead with both hands, then throw it to partner’s target, which is his hands above his head
• Partner catches med ball overhead, then throws it back
Sets/Reps/Rest: 2/12 each leg/30 seconds
Adaptation: After completing the overhead throw, move to using a chest pass. Use the same set, rep and rest patterns.
Keep your ankle, knee and hip slightly flexed. “You have to balance and work on stabilizing your whole body as a unit to receive the med ball and extend it back with force.”
Keep your head and chest up. “Focus straight ahead—your head goes where your body goes.”
Keep your arms overhead to provide your partner a solid target, and to catch the ball. “It’s easier to receive an object if your arms are in a ready position.”
Focus on the med ball at all times. “Don’t lose sight of the ball. You want to catch and fire it back as quickly as possible.”