Name every movement in the game of soccer.
I’m willing to bet strength plays a role in all of them.
I’ll bet my vintage Robben kit, or my stack of extended edition Lord of the Rings movies, or my life size teddy bear who I snuggle with every night. I’m not confident or anything. ;-O
When we look at the movements in the game, they all involve multiple muscle groups to fire in order to perform them efficiently and safely. You’ll be better than your opponents and be prepared for the demands of the 90 minute match.
So can we name all of them? Let’s see:
4.) Shielding off defenders.
5.) Taking off your shirt and showing your six pack.
And these are just glossing over the tip of the iceberg.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll stick to the first 4. #5 will organically happen if soccer players are consistent in the weight room. And intake adequate BRO-tein. <— read more on soccer nutrition here.
Now, let’s get right into the movements and how strength plays a role in each.
If you’re a goalkeeper, you’re spending a solid chunk of the game exploding off the ground and into the air. For attackers and defenders, you’re either jumping for a header off of a corner kick, or winning a ball in the air.
In order to get major “ups,” muscles from the lower extremity must work in conjunction with the upper extremity.
Main muscle groups involved: hamstrings, gluteals, quadriceps, calves, and core.
The hip extensors (gluteals, hamstrings) help to initiate the jump, so the stronger your butt is, the more powerful the lift-off. When landing, strong hip extensors, quadriceps and core allow for a safe return back to the ground. Players who are weak in these areas are the ones who suffer from knee an ankle injuries, as they’re unable to control their bodies from the force of the landing.
Here is an excellent drill to train jumping and landing in all planes of motion:
– Initiate the movement with the hips (hinge) with a soft knee bend.
– Swing the arms back and rapidly swing them up during the lift-off.
– Be sure to land in the same starting position (hips back, chest out), in order to avoid too much load on the knees.
– Keep the weight in the heels on the landing.
I guess you can say I’m passionate about the subject. ;-O
It kills me when coaches try ladder drills, agility drills, and sprint drills without peppering in ANY form of progressive strength training.
To that end, strength is the most critical piece of speed development.
And the more your players have upper and lower body strength, the more they will execute pristine running mechanics. No, you don’t need to hire a “speed coach” to help your players.
Get them in the weight room and make sure all muscles of their posterior and anterior chain are strong.
Since running at maximal speed is done by a simultaneous contralateral action of the arms and legs, the upper body must be able to “keep up” with the force of the legs. The muscles of both the contralateral lat and glute must fire in concert with one another for efficient and rapid force production. The hips and arms will extend together efficiently.
On a side note: speed ladders are not all bad. They are an excellent complement to a comprehensive strength and power program, especially if they serve as a contralateral movement warm up.
So don’t toss them out on the pitch just to make parents “oooh” and “ahhh” while your entire team butchers them.
Do them correctly. Remember, low athletic stance with the opposite arm and opposite leg working together.
I can’t think of one muscle in the body that isn’t involved in striking the ball.
To have the most power on a shot, the hip extensors and hip flexors must be strong. But in order for the transfer of power from the upper extremity to lower extremity to happen, the core must also be strong too. Again, just think six pack like Ronaldo.
Here is an excellent diagram to break down the anatomy of shooting:
One thing to add: the plant foot is just as critical as the shooting foot, as its ankles, calves, and hip stabilizers must be stronger in order to keep balance.
4.) Shielding defenders.
This one is self explanatory.
If two players are fighting against each other for possession, the stronger player wins. So for those who are vertically challenged (like Messi), good news: get strong (shoulders, back, core, hips, legs) and you’ll be able to fend off the taller a-holes.
Especially drills that will improve your ability to resist force, you’re good to go. Hint: no more ab crunches.
There’s just one to try, but if you need more anti-rotation and anti-extension core stability exercises, read this awesome article I wrote on why crunches suck from a physiological standpoint.
You’ll also get 10 more new core exercises. Again, Ronaldo sick pack is on its way. ;-O
So that’s that.
Nothing bad can come from getting strong. Get in the gym and start lifting heavy shit.