A majority of soccer training programs (non-Pro levels) still focus only on skill development and endurance training (running related conditioning) and neglect the other important aspects such as:
- Speed and power
- Strength and strength endurance
Other sports place a lot of importance on complementary strength and conditioning programs, not forgetting the off-season, to improve their performance. Soccer athletes should do the same. Part 1 in this series will take a look at Strength, Endurance, Agility and Speed.
The importance of strength in soccer is undervalued. It is an important element of fitness that provides advantage to athletes, regardless of sport, and forms the foundation for power and speed. In soccer, strength is needed to hold off challenges from the opposition. Other strength training benefits include:
- More energy
- Injury resistance
- Greater explosiveness
- Faster recovery
- Improved agility, balance, and stability
- Leaner body composition
- Greater bone density
For soccer players in comparison to football players, strength training should be designed towards Relative strength. Relative strength is the amount of strength to body size, or how strong you are for your size. This reflects a person’s ability to control or move their body through space, a vital trait in athletics. … Absolute strength is the maximum amount of force exerted, regardless of muscle or body size.
Good focuses for a strength training program are on compound, functional exercises (lunges, squats, pushups, step ups, etc.) while making sure to balance the strength of opposing muscles groups like the hamstrings and quadriceps. Some of the best exercises for soccer players are ground-based, not machine-based, using bodyweight and free weights creating resistance while intentionally moving the full body. While you should work all major muscle groups, a large focus should remain on the lower body and core.
Soccer conditioning focuses heavily on endurance, running and other forms of aerobic exercise. With studies showing some players can travel up to 8 miles in a 90-minute game, it seems very necessary in training the body for the cardiovascular and muscle demand. But there may be other beneficial forms, specific to soccer, to consider as the sport consists of varying intensities and time durations of activity. During a game, a player experiences times of walking, sprinting, jogging and in various directions. Interval training, with it’s high and low intensity, can provide great results.
Stay tuned for Part 2 in the series where we offer guidance with agility, speed and nutrition.
Excerpts: Hewett, Josh. “Athletic Conditioning for Soccer:Train Like A Pro.” Soccerathletics/Top-Form-Fitness.com