Full disclosure: I already drafted a piece for Stack.com similar to this. I outlined 5 strength drills that can be done on the pitch, and it should be coming out this week.
However, this post will include the exercises I left out. Hopefully, between this article and my piece for Stack, you’ll be on your way to soccer fitness badass-ery.
It’s refreshing to know that there are tons of ways to program on-field strength. To that end, the opportunities are endless.
While I believe athletes should get in the gym to achieve optimal physiological gains, sometimes, life just happens.
The Stanley Cup.
Since not everyone has the time or access to a performance facility, the alternative is to get stronger on the pitch.
There is a menu of exercises players can do while they’re at the field that focuses on the major muscle groups involved in soccer specific actions. And if these are done during practice each week, they’ll compound over time to stronger and more resilient athletes. Something is certainly better than nothing in this case.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
1. Lateral Lunge
What It Does: improves lateral strength, hip mobility, adductor flexibility, core stability, and lateral single leg deceleration/acceleration.
Why It’s Important for Soccer: helps to improve agility, reduces chances of injury, allows players to control deceleration better
How to Program at Practice: in the warm-up or at the end 2-3 sets, 6-8 reps each.
2. Plank Band Row
What It Does: improves core and hip stability, activates anterior core more than conventional plank, reinforces glute activation
Why It’s Important for Soccer: a stable core allows soccer players to better control their center of mass when taking a shot, changing direction, or sprinting at maximal speed. A controlled core is a safe spine, too.
How to Program at Practice: at the end 2-3 sets 8-10 reps each.
Equipment needed: single resistance band.
3. Face Pulls
What It Does: improves back strength and posture.
Why It’s Important for Soccer: good (not slouched) posture assists in better running mechanics, increased speed, and better breathing and recovery after high intensity runs.
How to Program at Practice: at the end 2-3 sets 10-15 reps.
Equipment Needed: assistance band.
4. Total Body Movement Flow
What It Does: improves coordination, core stability, hip mobility, and creativity. I’d argue this also activates the parasympathetic nervous system and allows athletes to get into a mental state that is relaxed.
Why It’s Important for Soccer: coordination helps with executing soccer specific motor skills, coordination and core stability optimizes speed, core stability improves ability to hold off defenders and maintain possession of ball, hip mobility improves knee stability (injury reduction) and ability to change direction, creativity and free play produces relaxed, creative players.
How to Program at Practice: in the warm-up for 2-3 minutes.
5. Hip Flexor Bridge
What It Does: hip extension strength, hip flexion strength, pelvic stability.
Why It’s Important for Soccer: hip extension plays a primary role in the actions of kicking, running, and accelerating. Hip flexion assists in shooting a powerful shot (the follow-through). Pelvic stability helps reduce chance of knee and ankle injuries.
How to Program at Practice: in the warm-up 2-3 sets, 8-15 reps each.
Equipment Needed: mini band.
So there you go – 5 exercises that can be blended into the practice schedule.
However, if you’re looking to truly get stronger, faster, and more powerful, hiring a strength coach at a performance facility is the BEST option.
You can do cool shit like this:
After all, there’s no place like the gym.
But again, as I said before, something is better than NOTHING.
Get started on the pitch, then come work out with me or your local strength coach. <3