Soccer is the most popular sport among our athletes at Evolution.
I think at one point it was 50% soccer players. It also seems to be one of the more competitive sports in the area. A lot of the teams are state title winners and many clubs compete on a national level.
This makes soccer a priority for a lot of athletes. High performance and staying injury free are two goals of soccer players. The injury one is big. The amount of soccer that gets played blows my mind. Some athletes combine for 10 practices and games in a week.
The overuse and repetitive stress can be problematic. If you can’t stay on the field, the game is not going to be very enjoyable.
The best defense to injury and improving performance is strength training. Generally speaking, most soccer players need strength. They spend a lot of time running, playing, and practicing. But some have never even stepped in a weight room.
Strength training is one of the best ways to build resiliency for soccer players. I personally favor total body training for athletes but there are some areas of focus for soccer.
Single Leg Strength
Being strong on one leg is very advantageous for soccer players. It helps improve both lower body strength and stability at the same time.
Athletes that are significantly strong do not tend to suffer a lot of injuries. One of the things some people forget with single leg work is that it can be loaded pretty good.
Progressively adding weight over time will help gradually build strength and reduce injury risk.
We have different categories of single leg exercises that we can use. There are a lot of variations that fit in each category as well. The possibilities are really endless.
2. SL Squats
3. Lateral Lunge
4. Step Ups
The hamstrings and glutes are often lumped together as the posterior chain. This muscle group is helpful in reducing ACL injury risk and improving quickness.
In order to be quick you must be able to slow down well. Having a strong posterior chain will help improve this deceleration. If you can slow down quickly, then you can get going back the other way quickly as well.
Some of my favorite hamstring and glute exercises are below
Anterior Core Control
One of the more underrated qualities for most athlete, but especially soccer, is anterior core strength. This is the ability to resist extension, or an arching in the low back.
Low back extension causes:
Decreased glute activation, hip mobility, speed, quickness, and core stability
Increased risk of back pain and knee injury.
This is one of the biggest faults when sprinting. By locking the rib cage down and resisting extension athletes can sprint faster. We get a better knee drive, trail leg extension, and into a good forward lean position. Those are all qualities that help athletes run fast.
The goal with these exercises is to avoid extension. The exercises are going to try and force that but you have to resist. Mastering this position is one of the more important needs for athletes.