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7 Best Single Leg Exercises for Soccer Players

7 Best Single Leg Exercises for Soccer Players

Bear with me.

I understand there’s a plethora of single leg exercises that should be incorporated into a soccer strength and conditioning program. And you’re probably wondering how I’m narrowing this list down to just 7 exercises.

First off, 7 is a cool number. Second, my GoPro died on me before I could finish filming. Third, I had to go tune into The Bachelor. Fourth, people are more likely to read my article if they see the number 7. I’m a marketing whiz, I know.

Alas, a part of me wanted to list the myriad of single leg movements I have in my arsenal because 1.) Soccer players can benefit from ALL of them and 2.) I wanted to showcase that my graduate degree paid off.

Why Single Leg Exercises for Soccer Players?

The short answer: soccer players are never standing on two feet at once.

They’re running, kicking, passing, shooting, jumping, diving, turning, or winning a Oscar Award for best flop.

It’s no secret that strength training must reflect the unilateral nature of the sport in order to increase performance and reduce chance of injury.

Again, I get there are TONS of single leg exercises out there. Single leg glute bridges, single leg hamstring curls, single leg squats, single leg hops, and single leg Bosu squats.

Okay. I’m getting carried away. And did I just say Bosu?? Darn.

7 Best Single Leg Exercises for Soccer Players

So why did I choose the ones I did?

Well, I did 21 peer reviewed studies with over 3,045 subjects performing over 10,718 single leg exercises, and magically narrowed it down to just 7.

Kidding. I’m not as smart as Bret Contreras…come ON!

Instead, these come from a culmination of my playing and injury experience (20 years), coaching experience (5 years), and research (because, science). I’d be ignorant not to say peer-reviewed research DOES matter. Even better, it’s super duper awesome when combined with experience-based research.

Without further ado, here are 7 best single leg exercises for soccer players:

1) Dead Stop SLRDL

Why I like it:

– Great for increasing strength from the bottom (concentric portion) of the lift.
– Allows you to work on the part of the movement where you feel most vulnerable.
– Improves your ability to bust through strength plateaus and be able to lift heavier.

Why It’s Good for Soccer Players:

– Posterior chain strength, hip stability, ankle stability, and balance.

 

2) “Relaxed” Pistol Squat

 Why I Like It:

– Allows you to play with (and improve) single leg squat depth because the back foot serves as your “self spotting” foot.
– In other words, you can better “grease the groove” of your hip flexors.

Why It’s Good for Soccer Players:

– Single leg strength, balance, ankle dorsiflexion, hip mobility.

3) Bulgarian Split Squat to SLRDL

 

 Why I Like It:

– Great for torching your posterior chain.
– Excellent to do if you’re on a crunch for time and need to kill two birds with one stone.

Why It’s Good for Soccer Players:

– Hip flexor stretching, glute strength, eccentric hamstring control, single leg strength and balance.

4) Lateral Med Ball Toss

 

Why I Like It:

– Don’t let this fool you. It’s harder than it looks. Great for checking the ego and focusing on hip, ankle, and core stability through the frontal and transverse planes.

Why It’s Good For Soccer Players:

– I’ll leave it at this picture:

5) Landmine Eccentric Lateral Lunge

 

 Why I Like It:

– I love frontal plane work, and I believe we don’t do enough of it.
– Improves eccentric control and lateral deceleration in the frontal plane.

Why It’s Good For Soccer Players:

– Great for improving lateral speed, and improving ability to absorb forces in the frontal plane (injury reduction).
– Lateral actions important for soccer players: changing direction, beating a defender in a 1 v 1 situation, defensive stance and footwork.

6) Transverse Hops

 

 Why I Like It:

– Works on single leg concentric and eccentric actions in transverse plane (stretch shortening cycle).

Why It’s Good for Soccer Players:

– Plyometrics should be trained in all planes of motion because soccer athletes are jumping for head balls, corner kicks, or balancing their plant foot for a shot.

7) Chaos Single Leg Hip Thrust

Why I Like It:

– This is a new way to challenge the single leg hip thrust because the foot elevated and instability components call for more hamstring and glute recruitment.
– Because, good old-fashioned ass torching.

Why It’s Good for Soccer Players:

– The glutes are the engine behind every soccer player’s actions: acceleration, kicking, linear sprinting
– They also help to stabilize the body and reduce chance of knee and ankle injuries.

 

5 Comments
  • halee goeppner
    Posted at 01:00h, 19 March Reply

    hello! thank you for these workouts! im on a club soccer team, and because of COVID19, all my practices and games got cancelled, so I wanted to stay in shape. Again, thanks.

  • Scott
    Posted at 02:19h, 20 August Reply

    Would you recommend running through all of these in one workout session? 3 sets of each?

    • erica
      Posted at 11:18h, 20 August Reply

      I recommend doing a hamstring and quad movement each workout and slowly progressing each week. Make sure you gradually add load and not do the same # of sets each week! 🙂 I go into detail with program design in my year-round workbook: Total Youth Soccer Fitness 365

  • Adam
    Posted at 14:22h, 15 October Reply

    Great article. I struggle with hip, and hamstring issues and typical heavy leg workouts are probably a terrible accessory to football (I’m British so soccer doesn’t exist).

    This is what I need to bulletproof my hams, hips, and groin muscles.

    • erica
      Posted at 17:12h, 21 October Reply

      Thanks for reading, so so glad it helped you 🙂

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