by Tyler Foster, PT, DPT, OCS
You could be the most athletic specimen to walk the earth, but if your skills, strength, and conditioning are not up to par, you can still find yourself on the losing end of a game. Soccer requires a combination of athleticism, game strategy, and technique to get players to their highest level of performance. So, what does that mean for you? Getting back to the basics.
Athleticism: The Basics
Most exercise plans include the standard strength and conditioning exercises (squats, lunges, deadlifts) as well as timed cardiovascular exercises. These are all standard for a reason. They work, and they even cover every baseline requirement to play. But, can we do better?
Of course, we can! Although performing these standard strength and conditioning exercises may be important, understanding baseline flexibility, strength, and basic motor controls are the true keys to upping your athletic abilities.
Try some of these plyometric drills to help build lower body strength while gaining more control over your basic motor functions!
Tactics: Understanding the Game
What are the best exercise strategies and tools individuals and teams can use to best prepare themselves for an upcoming season of soccer?
Essentially it comes down to goals…no, not those kinds. Consider this; What is your primary objective as a player? The simple answer; understanding your role.
Soccer requires high-intensity activities, mostly involving sprinting, jumping/landing, tackling, a variety of agility-based movements, and most obviously, kicking. But, breaking down position-based responsibilities are important. Every player should have a different program because every player has different game demands.
Try some Barbell exercises which can help introduce some more power into any players game!
Skills: Don’t Sweat the Technique
Even if you’re the most athletic team out there, you still need to perfect your skills on the ball and your ability to react to a play.
Soccer skills require great amounts of foot speed and ball control, with a variety of techniques to dribble, pass, and shoot. If you want to become more agile, perfect your control, and develop that one crucial step faster that’s needed to win a ball in a game, then you need to work on your strength and stability. Quick and accurate lateral movements while maintaining balance, and reflecting a change of direction by dribbling a ball can be added to your strength and conditioning routines to sharpen your skills. Using ladder drills or dynamic cones drills over short distances can imitate game-like scenarios and can better condition players to be more successful.
Try some of these ladder agility drills!
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