The topic of soccer-specific strength and conditioning for soccer players is hotly debated. The issue of off-season strength training for soccer players has been a hot topic for years. First, we need to know if there is an off-season for top-flight soccer players. Any level? Female or male? My answer is no Is there a need? That’s the topic of another article, or series of articles. It is also part of a continuing and intense debate.
Let’s say there is an off season. The next question to address is how do you train for the next season? Although the answer to this question is complicated, it is important to continue to keep your feet on the ball and to practice at the gym.
This topic is often a subject that I get interesting questions and comments. It is interesting to note that many soccer coaches still believe they are in the Dark Ages of strength training for their players.
I regularly receive letters from colleagues. The information I receive falls under three categories:
1) The old soccer training academy: “All that is SPBO required is to play soccer!”
2) The conservative soccer training school (usually voiced in parents): “My kid is already doing too many, he (or
She) doesn’t require any additional training!”
3) The informed soccer training academy: “I recognize that the players are stronger, faster, and more powerful than ever before, and I need an edge if I want the best results at all levels.”
It doesn’t take genius to figure out which position I will take on this topic. Number 3!
A “coach” made the most ignorant comment to me. He was criticizing an article I had written on leg training. It is illustrative for the first school of thought, which I call the old school. Because soccer players don’t engage in similar muscle movements to those used in performing a particular exercise or use their muscles to prompt such movements on the pitch, the coach claimed that leg extensions and leg curls are unnecessary because they do not use the same muscles that were used to perform the exercise.
This is like saying that football players don’t need to bench press, because there isn’t a bench at the 50 yard line, or goalkeepers don’t need to be aerobically fit since they rarely leave the box. This could go on and on, but I think you get the point. It’s old-fashioned and misinformed.
Old school views fail to consider the synergy among muscle groups and their actions. They also neglect to recognize that muscle movement is complex. It not only affects the muscles you are using, but also the connective tissues.
Where do the most serious and life-threatening soccer injuries happen? The knees! What is the most affected part of the knees? The connective tissue! How can we strengthen our connective tissue? Strength training that targets strengthening muscles and connective tissue.
It is a fact that if you don’t strengthen your overall musculature and connective tissue, then you are more likely to sustain injury. This is especially true for soccer players who engage in strength training. They will be what? Yup! Bigger! Stronger! Faster! Faster!
Go to the gym, but make sure you do it correctly. You can find a qualified strength and conditioning coach who is familiar with soccer-specific strength training and exercise.
It all depends on your goals, but it is very competitive and you will need to have an edge to win.
Go to any soccer facility in any US city, or abroad on Saturday morning, and ask these questions:
1) What is it that makes me unique?
2) How can I stand out from all the competition?
3) How do I gain an edge?
It’s really simple and it’s two-fold.
1) Be consistent and play at the highest level.
2) Find your competitive advantage, and work hard to make it stand out from the rest!
Combining the two will yield dividends that you can only dream of at the moment. However, as someone who has coached soccer players at all levels, on the pitch and at the gym, it is important to ask yourself this question: “What makes you special?” If you answer that question, you’ll be in the top 1% of players and have the opportunity to play against everyone else.
To be successful, sport-specific training programs must be customized to each individual. Over 30 years of experience in training athletes at all levels from amateur to professional. I hope you find the information in this article helpful. Maybe it will inspire you to do something.