Soccer is a game that involves a lot of cardiovascular endurance; It’s also a leg-dominant sport. So we need to build our training program correctly to allow us to blossom on the pitch.
Which movements help build a strong body for soccer? Which exercises will help our game excel on the pitch? These three movements will raise your game:
Ankle Plantar Flexion & Inversion
Your ankles’ health is essential in the sport of soccer (and in life). This section of the body is also taken for granted in most exercise programs and therefore skipped. Doing this, however, can lead to significant injury and keep you off the field. Regardless of their ability, a player who can’t play is of no use to their team. So how are we going to build this section of our body to keep us on the pitch?
This movement allows you to prevent injuries and build everything around this vital part of your body.
Plantar flexion is the art or motion of pointing your ankle and toes down/ pointing them away from you.
Here is how you perform this exercise:
- Moving just your ankle, point your foot forward (while keeping your knee straight).
- Your range of motion is complete when you can no longer push your toes further down
- Hold each rep for three to five seconds, return to starting position and perform 25-50 reps on each ankle.
- Take a small break in between movements(30 seconds maximum)
Now we move on to the Inversion section of this exercise. Inversion refers to the motion of pointing your ankle inward towards the midline of your body. Your toes should stay pointed towards the sky in this exercise.
Here is how you perform this exercise:
- Moving only your ankle and keeping your toes pointed up, turn your foot towards your midline( or inward) so the sole is facing your other leg. Remember your range of motion(ROM) could force this movement to be shorter than some people, and your sole may not “reach” your other leg.
- Hold this position for three to five seconds, return to the neutral (starting) position and perform 25-50 reps to each leg.
You may include a band around your foot to increase resistance once you have incorporated this exercise for at least one to two weeks into your program.
Around The World/Clock Sprints
Soccer requires moving at one pace and then accelerating into another gear(speed) at a moment’s notice. Most people will train on a treadmill with speed intervals and call their training day complete. However, to become a better player, you must prepare to mimic what you will be completing during your match.
In soccer, you don’t always sprint that straight line. Due to the multi-directional sprints needed in soccer, you have to take your training and sprint in multiple directions to allow your body to build muscle memory.
Let’s line up and complete 12 different sprints (10-40 yards depending on your space, athleticism, and endurance). Here is how we achieve the around the world “clock” sprints:
- Your first sprint will be straight ahead (facing 12 o’clock or noon)
- Walk back to your starting position, use this time to breathe because you will begin your next sprint the second you reach your starting point).
- Now sprint in the direction of 1 o’clock(or just slighting to the right of straight ahead).
- Remember, walk back to the starting position, breathe in the nose and out the mouth as you regain your breath.
- Repeat this for every hand of the clock or every direction that is “around the world.”
- You have completed the exercise when you complete every direction of the globe/clock.
Now take 3-5 minutes of rest before repeating the exercise. You can perform the clock exercise for one to three sets. The most crucial portion of soccer is proper endurance, and this amount of prep will help your reach that goal. I also recommend a day of rest in between the sprints to allow for recovery.
Runners Arm Swings
Did you know you can slow yourself down by swinging your arms incorrectly while running? If you’re swinging your arms incorrectly across your body, it’s wasted movement and energy. That wasted energy can drain your endurance during a game and gas you out before the final whistle.
Streamline your running technique with this exercise. Here is how you can adequately perform the Runners Arm Swing:
- Maintain a 90-degree angle with the elbow
- Drive your elbows backward (until the hand reaches the torso/ if it is easier, remember the hand reaches your hip).
- Explode the elbow forward until the hand returns to chin level.
- You can perform this drill either in a standing or seated position
This drill can be performed daily as a warm-up before the sprints mentioned above or before a game. Perform the exercise for 10-15 reps to each arm.
You can add more activities to your program, but you must create a foundation to allow your body to develop. These three exercises will give you a vital foundation to produce on the pitch.