Strength training is an integral part of a successful soccer players routine. It has two main benefits: injury prevention and to improve athletic performance.
WHAT SHOULD IT INCLUDE?
The strength training should focus on the main muscle groups used during soccer: hamstring, quads, calves, gluts and core. The session should take into account the skills required (speed, acceleration, agility) and be individualized to each athlete. Strength training can include the use of machine weights, free weights, resistance bands, plyometric exercises and body weight drills. There are multiple benefits to strength training besides muscle strength including an improvement in bone density and self-esteem. Some examples of common exercises as part of a soccer specific strength program:
-Bulgarian split squat: targets gluts and quads which are important with speed and acceleration
-Copenhagen adductor exercise: good for prevention of groin strains
-Lateral hurdle jumps: plyometric exercise aimed to improve agility with change of direction
HOW LONG SHOULD IT RUN FOR?
Each session should always start with a 5-10 minute warm up and finish with a 5-10 minute cool down and aim to include 6-8 exercises. The frequency of sessions will depend of the point of the season, the athlete’s previous strength training experience and goals of the athlete. Sessions should be completed once per week during the season (to avoid overloading the athlete) and increased to 2-3 sessions per week during the off-season/pre-season. An increase of strength by 30-50% has been reported after 8-12 weeks of a well-designed exercise program.
CAN IT BE DONE AT HOME OR DOES IT HAVE TO BE AT A GYM?
Strength training doesn’t have to be completed in a gym setting. It could be done at home using body weight, resistance bands and some objects around the house. It could also be done in a group setting. This often improves the motivation of the athletes (and the likelihood of some friendly banter!) and reduces the cost too. Our physio’s Chris and Tim will be starting Young Athlete Development Strength and Conditioning sessions here at the clinic soon which would be perfect for a small group of team mates looking to introduce strength training into their routine. Most sport excellence programs have gym facilities so it can be incorporated into your school-based sessions if you choose.
HOW DO I GET STARTED ON A STRENGTH PROGRAM?
Jess has a special interest in soccer injuries and performance and has a lot of experience designing soccer specific programs. She will have a discussion with you about your playing position, previous injuries, goals for strength training and then set you up with a program to work on. For someone who hasn’t had a lot of experience with gym training, it might be beneficial to begin supervised sessions to ensure your technique is correct and then transition to an independent program with updates as needed. Physiologic has a fully equipped clinic gym to use for supervised sessions. If group training is more your thing, then Jess can transition you to the Young Athlete development squad with Tim & Chris or work with you to find something suitable.