Strength Training for Soccer Players
Soccer players, male and female, need a mixture of fitness attributes, including coordination, speed, agility, endurance, strength and power. As Robert G. Price notes in his book "The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Soccer", kicking, sprinting, jumping and tackling all require different types of strength. Dedicating one or two workouts a week to specific strength training will enhance your performance on the pitch.
Training For Muscular Endurance
Muscular endurance is your ability to perform repeated movements of less than or nearly maximum effort without becoming fatigued. Develop muscular endurance by performing multiple sets of 15 to 20 or more repetitions with short breaks of 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Because your legs have the most-used muscle groups when you play soccer, focus your endurance training on your quadriceps and hamstrings at the front and rear of your thighs, respectively. Body-weight squats, lunges, leg extensions, leg curls, leg presses and high box step-ups are all good choices for developing muscular endurance.
Training For Strength
Your ability to generate maximal force for a very short period of time is called strength. Strength is important when you're trying to defend against players who are trying to push you off the ball, either on the ground or in the air. Develop strength by lifting heavy weights at low repetitions. For example, three to five reps with a weight that's 90 percent of your one-repetition maximum. Free weight exercises such as bench press, squats, dead lifts and shoulder presses are ideally suited to the development of strength. Because of the magnitude of load used in training for strength, always have a spotter present and use good lifting technique to minimize your risk of injury.
Training For Power
Power is strength expressed at speed and is vital for your ability to jump and sprint. Power exercises are performed explosively with weights that you can lift at full speed. Because of the velocity required, only certain movements are suitable for power training. Power exercises include the barbell clean and jerk, the dumbbell snatch, overhead medicine ball throws and squat jumps. Power exercises are advanced and should be attempted only if you have established a good level of basic conditioning and have been working toward power training for a few months.
Train More During Off-season
Soccer players should do the bulk of their strength training during the off-season. Once the season has finished and you have recovered from any injuries, begin to introduce strength training into your workout schedule a couple of times a week. The initial phase should be designed to familiarize you with common exercises and develop your basic conditioning. Muscular endurance training is the ideal format for this phase.
After four to eight weeks, you can increase the intensity of your workouts and begin work on developing basic strength. Begin with modest weights and aim to increase the loads lifted during the coming weeks. Focus on compound lifts such as the squat, dead lift and bench press.
Finally, as the season approaches, progress to power training. Power training is very demanding in terms of intensity and stress on your body but, after your buildup period, you should be ready. Focus on developing power for the specifics of soccer by performing exercises for your vertical jump and sprinting speed such as squat jumps and power cleans.
Cut Back During Season
Although strength training is an important part of preparation for playing soccer, leave plenty of time on your workout schedule for aerobic training, soccer practices, stretching, core work and rest. Two strength training sessions per week should be sufficient. To maintain your strength during your playing season and allow plenty of time to recover from matches, you can reduce your strength workouts to once a week without worrying about losing your endurance, strength or power.
- The Ultimate Guide To Weight Training For Soccer; Robert G. Price; 2005
- Complete Conditioning for Soccer; Greg Gatz; 2009
- Athletic Development: The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning; Vern Gambetta; 2006
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.