The hips do not lie.
To neglect them as a soccer player would be hindering performance, decreasing speed and increasing risk of injury.
Ever seen a player jump several feet off the ground to bang in a header off a corner kick? Ever seen a player “break ankles” with their sharp turns against an opponent? Ever seen a player able to side shuffle under control to contain a defender? Ever seen a player gear down from top speed and change direction in the blink of an eye?
All of these tremendous actions are not possible without the strength of the hips, as well as their many functions at play. To be more specific, the hips have four main actions:
- Hip Flexion
- Hip Extension
- Hip Adduction
- Hip Abduction
Each of these functions plays important roles in soccer specific movements, and to be a strong and durable athlete, it bodes well to attack all of these components.
So how do soccer players build strong hips capable of driving better performance? Let’s dive in.
1. Hip Flexion Exercises
Here is what you need to know: Hip flexor strength allows soccer players to strike the ball with a powerful follow-through, sprint at maximal speed and hone passing technique. But oddly enough, the hip flexors are the most ignored when it comes to bulletproofing the hips. More often than not, soccer players are under the impression their hip flexors are constantly tight. In reality, they’re actually weak.
With that said, here are two of my favorite moves to strengthen the hip flexors. I recommend 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps on each side for both movements.
2. Hip Extension Exercises
Taking the conversation back to jumping higher and sprinting faster, hip extension is paramount to any explosive action in the beautiful game. Since hip extension movements target the largest, most powerful muscle of the hips, the gluteus maximus, these should be paramount in any soccer performance program.
Here are two of my favorite hip extension movements:
Perform 2-3 sets, 10-12 reps (add weight for progression).
For hypertrophy, perform 2-4 sets, 10-12 reps. For strength, perform 3-4 sets, 4-6 reps.
3. Hip Adduction Exercises
Groin strains are becoming more rampant in the soccer world due to a lack of adductor strengthening movements in performance programs. Athletes often focus too much on abduction exercises and fail to realize a nice balance of both is needed.
Here are two to try:
Perform 2-3 sets, 30-45 seconds (squeeze medicine ball with groin as hard as you can).
Perform 2-3 sets, 5-10 reps each side.
4. Hip Abduction Exercises
The hip abductors allow players to externally rotate their hips, so they can change direction efficiently. Additionally, hip abductors help with stabilization, especially with the plant leg when striking a shot. The better the stabilization of the abductor, the more free the shooting leg can move in a controlled, yet powerful manner without losing balance.
Here are two hip abductor exercises to sprinkle into your program:
Perform 2-3 sets, 30 seconds per set.
Perform 2-3 sets, 10-12 each side.
Building strong hips for soccer means attacking all four major functions so that athletes are not unbalanced or asymmetrical. Think of the hips as the main engine of the soccer player that fuels a plethora of actions in the game. It bodes well for you to invest in that engine as much as you can to optimize performance.
Photo Credit: Joseph Calomeni/iStock