The Secret Behind Abby Wambach's Explosive World Cup Goals

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Abby Wambach's play in the 2011 FIFA World Cup has been absolutely brilliant heading into the finals against Japan. Her goals against Brazil and France, which helped propel the U.S. into the title match, dazzled a global audience.

Getting to this point for Wambach has been the result of hard work and dedication, both on the field and in the weight room. Above, she performs Hang Cleans to develop full-body power. U.S. Women's National Team fitness coach Dawn Scott advises Wambach to start with the bar just above her knees, with her hands and feet shoulder-width apart. "The aim is to almost drive the bar up and then catch it with the elbows bent and knees slightly bent as well," says Scott.

This exercise works Wambach's upper body, core and legs. Scott calls it "a great all-around exercise for strength and power development." No wonder Wambach has been getting to the ball on corner kicks for stellar headers into the back of the net.

Use Hang Cleans to develop the power necessary to leap above the pack and connect with the ball.

  • Position hands and feet shoulder-width apart
  • Begin with the bar just above knees
  • Use lower body and hips to drive the bar upward
  • Catch the bar with knees bent

Sets/Reps: 4x5

Another of Wambach's explosive lower body exercises is the Squat/Box Jump Combo, seen above. Scott prescribes the Box Jump after the Squat to work different muscle fibers engaged by each exercise. She says that the type of Squat performed before the Box Jump varies, depending on the player's history of ankle and knee injuries. Some will perform a Back Squat while others will stick with a Single-Leg Squat before exploding into the Box Jump.

Use the Squat/Box Jump Combo for an explosive lower body, so you can be a high flying forward like Abby Wambach.

Abby Wambach Squat/Box Jump Combo

  • Begin with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Explode upward and land softly with knees bent
  • Do not allow feet or knees to turn in
  • Step down and slowly repeat

Sets/Reps: 4x5

Watch Wambach's strength and power on display during Sunday's World Cup Final, 2 p.m. EDT on ESPN.  The U.S. women will try to put away Japan for their first championship since 1999.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock