Strength and Conditioning to Improve your Soccer Game

Lets face it, we all like to think that we’re still as strong, fast and agile as we were in our prime. Unfortunately, aging will get us all. Our endurance, strength, balance and flexibility aren’t what they used to be. Injuries happen more often and take way longer to recover from. To top it all off, lots of us need to make a living, raise a family and maintain a household. Where is the time for working out? Many older athletes would rather spend their time playing the sports they love than pushing weights around a boring gym. Unfortunately, if you’re only playing soccer (or any other sport) 1-2x a week, and spend the rest of your time behind a desk on your tush, chances are you’re a ticking time bomb for injury. Spending most of your week sedentary will make your muscles weak, stiff and poorly conditioned for any sport. You don’t have to be a gym rat to see benefits; you just need to maximize your time at the gym and do the RIGHT exercises. Hitting the gym will not only improve your health and fitness, but it will also increase your success and performance on the field.

Where to Start and What to do?

Soccer requires endurance, strength, power and agility. Therefore, your workouts should focus on improving all of these areas. Strength training doesn’t need to be done everyday. If you’re short on time, make sure you’re doing a full body workout 2x/week.
***IMPORTANT*** Every athlete is different. Talk to a therapist at Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic if you have specific injuries or health concerns before starting an exercise program. The program described below is for a currently healthy, injury free individual. You don’t need any fancy equipment or a gym membership to perform these exercises. Remember, changes don’t happen overnight; it takes 6-8 weeks to see true strength and conditioning changes.

Unless otherwise stated all exercises will be completed for:
3 Sets
10-12 Reps
60 seconds Rest

If you’re short on time, go through each exercise as a circuit and repeat the whole circuit 3x with no rest in between exercises.

Back lunge to high knee:

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, step back into a lunge bending at both knees and then bring the back leg into a high knee position. Ensure your stabilizing knee does not cave in. Repeat 10 on one leg before switching to the other side. Progression: add a weight in each hand, medicine ball, kettle bell, band around your ankle etc.

WHY? Improves strength, stability & balance

Monster Walks

Start in an athletic stance with both knees slightly bent and feet together. Take a step sideways and then bring your feet together again. Repeat 10 steps in one direction and then ten steps back. Place band around knees to start and progress to ankles and feet. Placing the band around the feet will be the hardest but has the greatest activation of the glut med and max muscles.

WHY? Strengthens the glutes, a weak link in many athletes. Strong gluts will result in a more stable knee with decreased risk for injury.

Nordic Hamstring Curls

Can be completed with a partner holding your legs or hooking your feet under something heavy. Lower yourself forward, keeping your back and hips straight. Once you cannot go any further push yourself back into start position.

WHY? Eccentric hamstring exercises have been shown to significantly decrease the risk of hamstring injury.

Adductor Theraband

Tie a theraband around your ankle, start with your leg away from your body, stand upright and engage the core. Slowly bring the leg towards your other leg and slowly bring it back out.

Why? Kicking, changing direction and reaching in soccer puts a large eccentric force on the adductor muscles, which puts them at risk for injury.

Side plank with leg raise

Lie on your side with your right elbow on the ground. Your bottom leg should be bent and your top leg straight. Raise your body off the ground so that your elbow and knee are the only parts in contact with the ground. Hold this position and slowly lift your top leg up and down. Repeat 10x / leg.

WHY? Core strength and pelvic stability is crucial for soccer players for changing directions, kicking and sprinting on the field

Squats

Bring your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, imagine a chair behind you (or actually put a chair for better form). Squat down and touch the chair and lift yourself back upright. Add a weight in front of your body for added difficulty.

WHY? Squats help build strength and power in all the leg muscles.

Push-ups

Start from your knees if from your feet is too difficult

WHY? A stronger upper body will help with throw-ins and pushing through defenders

1 Arm Row

Keep your feet hip width apart, slightly bend both your knees, engage your core and rest one hand on a chair or bench for added support. Holding a weight in one hand bring your arm back bending your elbow.

WHY? A stronger upper body will help with throw-ins and pushing through defenders

How to Progress

If you want to take it up a notch you can add in high-intensity interval training to provide a more sport specific/game like situation (i.e., after every strength exercise add a 30 sec AMRAP, “as many reps as possible”) of drills like squat jumps, burpees, box jumps, sprinting, etc. ALWAYS REMEMBER QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. 5 perfect squats is far more beneficial than 20 mediocre squats. You can also add in simple ladder footwork/agility drills. These drills will help with changing direction, tracking the ball, and being quick on the field. Extra Goalie Exercises: Lateral Bounds are great for developing goalies strength and speed for quick side-to-side movements in the net. In addition, vertical jumping is essential for goalies looking to get a little higher reach in net.

If you’re looking for a sports medicine clinic in the Oakville and Mississauga area to treat your current injuries or help put together a program to prevent future injuries, contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic at 905-849-4576.

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