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The Exercises

Joint Rotations

From a standing position with your arms hanging loosely at you sides, flex,
extend, and rotate each of the following joints:

• Fingers
• Wrist
• Elbows
• Shoulders
• Neck
• Trunk and shoulder blades
• Hips
• Knees
• Ankles
• Feet and toes

Neck Mobility

• Flexion/Extension - Tuck your chin into your chest, and then lift your
chin upward as far as possible. 6 to 10 repetitions
• Lateral Flexion - lower your left ear toward your left shoulder and
then your right ear to your right shoulder. 6 to 10 repetitions
• Rotation - Turn your chin laterally toward your left shoulder and then
rotate it toward your right shoulder. 6 to 10 repetitions

Shoulder Circles

• Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly
bent
• Raise your right shoulder towards your right ear, take it backwards,
down and then up again to the ear in a smooth action
• Repeat with the other shoulder
Arm Swings

• Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly
bent
• Keep the back straight at all times
• Overhead/Down and back - Swing both arms continuously to an
overhead position and then forward, down, and backwards. 6 to 10
repetitions
• Side/Front Crossover - Swing both arms out to your sides and then
cross them in front of your chest. 6 to 10 repetitions

Side Bends

• Stand tall with good posture, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width
apart, knees slightly bent, hands resting on hips
• Lift your trunk up and away from your hips and bend smoothly first to
one side, then the other, avoiding the tendency to lean either forwards
or backwards
• Repeat the whole sequence sixteen times with a slow rhythm,
breathing out as you bend to the side, and in as you return to the
centre

Hip circles and twists

• Circles - With your hands on your hips and feet spread wider than
your shoulders, make circles with your hips in a clockwise direction
for 10 to 12 repetitions. Then repeat in a counter clockwise direction
• Twists - Extend your arms out to your sides, and twist your torso and
hips to the left, shifting your weight on to the left foot. Then twist
your torso to the right while shifting your weight to the right foot. 10
to 12 reps on each side

Half Squat

• Stand tall with good posture holding your hands out in front of you for
balance
• Now bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor
• Keep your back long throughout the movement, and look straight
ahead
• Make sure that your knees always point in the same direction as your
toes
• Once at your lowest point, fully straighten your legs to return to your
starting position
• Repeat the exercise sixteen times with a smooth, controlled rhythm
• Breath in as you descend, and out as you rise

Leg Swings

• Flexion/Extension- Stand sideways onto the wall


• Weight on your left leg and your right hand on the wall for balance
• Swing your right leg forward and backward
• 10 to 12 repetitions on each leg

• Cross-Body flexion/Abduction - Leaning slightly forward with both


hands on a wall and your weight on your left leg, swing your right leg
to the left in front of your body, pointing your toes upwards as your
foot reaches its furthest point of motion
• Then swing the right leg back to the right as far as comfortable, again
pointing your toes up as your foot reaches its final point of movement
• 10 to 12 repetitions on each leg

Lunges

• Standing tall both feet together (starting position)


• Keeping the back straight lunge forward with the right leg approx 1 to
1½ metre
• The right thigh should be parallel with the ground and the right lower
leg vertical
• Spring back to the starting position
• Repeat with the left leg
• 12 to 16 repetitions on each leg

Ankle Bounce

• Double leg bounce - Leaning forward with your hands on the wall
and your weight on your toes, raise and lower both heels rapidly
(bounce)
• Each time, lift your heels one to two inches from the ground while
maintaining ground contact with the ball of your feet
• 12 to 16 repetitions
• Single leg bounce - leaning forward with your hands on a wall and all
your weight on your left foot, raise the right knee forward while
pushing the left heel towards the ground
• Then lower the right foot to the floor while raising the left heel one or
two inches
• Repeat in a rapid, bouncy fashion
• 12 to 16 repetitions on each leg

Strength Training for Football Players

The benefit of strength and strength training for footballers is well supported
by research. For example, De Proft and colleagues had one group of Belgian
professionals perform extra weight training during the season. Compared to
a control group of colleagues who did no extra training, the players
improved their kicking power and leg strength. In addition, British
researcher Thomas Reilly showed that the stronger players outlasted the
weaker players in terms of a regular place in the team, and had reduced
injury risks. He recommends that leg strength in particular is developed,
especially in the quadriceps and hamstrings, to help stabilise the knee joint,
which is the most frequently injured joint in football. Peter Apor, a
Hungarian researcher who has been involved in long-term studies of
Hungarian professionals, agrees, saying that knee-extension torque has been
associated with success in the game and that strong hamstring muscles in
relation to quadriceps are crucial to knee injury prevention. Another
common football injury is hernia, for which the best protection is developing
strong abdominal muscles.

Strength Training

From this brief review of the research, we can conclude that strength and
strength training, especially in the legs and trunk, are important for
footballers who want to improve kick performance and reduce the risk of
injury. To increase general strength, a workout consisting of leg press, leg
extensions, leg curls, bench press, lat pull downs, abdominal and lower back
exercises, would be ideal. This can be done with multi-gym equipment,
which is also safe and easy to use. In my experience, some professional
players use the club's gym equipment to perform this kind of workout after
their official training session. Reilly found that players who voluntarily
performed extra strength training were the ones who suffered the fewest
muscle injuries. Therefore, since maintaining a fully fit squad can be a big
problem, it makes sense for clubs to encourage or schedule general strength
training for all players.

And sprint times, too

Another piece of research - by Taiana and colleagues in France - showed


that a 10-week leg-strength training program for footballers improved their
10m and 30m sprint times and their vertical jump performance. These motor
tasks are obviously very valuable. However, this study used a training
program that targeted maximum strength with heavy resistances. Although
this type of training is a proven method for enhancing sprint speed and
jumping power, it is also difficult to include in the regular training program
of a football team, because the recovery required after heavy resistance
training might interfere with the regular competitions during the season.

As with strength training the value of good sprinting speed for footballers is
well supported by research. Ekblom found that the absolute maximum speed
shown during play was one of the parameters that differentiated elite players
from those of lesser standard. This is supported by a study with German
division-one players by Kollath and Quade. They showed that professionals
were significantly quicker than amateurs over 10m, 20m and 30m. The
acceleration difference to 10m was especially significant. This suggests that
better players need superior acceleration and maximum speed to play at a
higher level. Interestingly, the 30m speed was similar for the German
professionals regardless of position.

The training regimes of footballers must therefore reflect this need for good
acceleration and maximum speed. Peter Apor suggests, in making fitness
recommendations for footballers; that players need to develop the
musculature of a sprinter. I have already mentioned the benefit of maximum
leg-strength training with heavy resistances for developing acceleration and
speed. Taiana says that the players he trained for maximum leg strength
were able to play at the weekend without detriment if the strength workout
was on Tuesday. This once-a-week routine was still found to be beneficial.
However, this type of training should be used with caution. Two or three
sessions a week during the off-season would bring about much greater gains
in maximum strength. Taiana therefore recommends that this type of training
should be used in the off-season and then maintained with one workout per
week once the competitive season has started.

Step by step

Another point to remember is that maximum strength training should be a


progression from general strength training with submaximal loads. Heavy
maximal resistance exercise, while very effective, is for advanced strength
trainees only. Zatsiorsky recommends that good abdominal and lower back
strength are essential if heavy lifting exercises are to be used. Thus, the first
step for improved sprint speed is ensuring a good basic level of strength.
American trainers George Dintiman and Robert Ward recommend that an
athlete should be able to perform one maximum leg press of at least 2.5
times body weight, and have a hamstring to quadriceps ratio of least 75-
80%. Both these measures can be tested on the standard gym machines.
Good abdominal and lower back strength are also essential for sprinting
speed, as the trunk muscles are required to stabilise the sprinting movement.

Hop, bound and jump

Plyometric exercises are another proven training method that enhances leg
power and sprinting speed. McNaughton cites soccer as one of the many
games where short, explosive power is required, and that plyometric training
is a useful complement or alternative to strength training to achieve this.
Once the players are used to it, plyometrics may be more convenient than
weights for speed development in terms of scheduling during the season.

Plyometric exercises are typified by hopping, bounding and jumping


movements. These exercises demand a high force of contraction in response
to a rapid loading of lengthening muscles. For this reason, they should be
more accurately called reversible action or rebound exercises. The training
effort increases the force production in the muscles, but the movements are
performed at faster speeds than weight-training exercises. Thus rebound
exercises are more specific to the sprinting and jumping movements in
football. These exercises should be done in 3-5 sets of 8 repetitions for each
leg, with at least one minute's rest between sets. The quality and speed of the
movement is the priority. The other training element that is required for
improving sprinting speed is sprinting itself. This should be done with
maximum efforts over 30-60m. Again, at least one minute's rest between
runs should be allowed so that quality can be maintained. Remember, with
this kind of training the aim is to develop the maximum speed; endurance
should not become a factor. Sprinting done uphill, with weighted jackets, or
towing weights is also useful because it adds resistance to the sprint
movement, placing greater load on the muscles in the most specific manner.
Again, short distances with long rests are recommended.

Fitting it in I have discussed research that shows the importance of strength


and speed for elite football performance. From this, I have suggested four
types of training:

1. General strength training to help prevent injuries, improve kicking


performance and provide the basis for good sprinting speed
2. Maximal leg-strength training, which is a progression from general
strength training for advanced trainees only, but one that is extremely
useful for developing speed and power
3. Plyometric training exercises, which complement strength training as
an effective alternative
4. Maximum sprint running over short distances with or without added
resistances

The main question that now needs answering is how can this training best be
scheduled into an already full training and competing program?

Plyometrics and sprint training are usually performed when fresh. However,
as it is a requirement of football to be able to sprint when fatigued, one could
argue that sprint work should be done after a training session. One answer
could be a short but high-quality hopping, jumping and sprints workout after
a skills session. For example, 3x8 squat jumps, 3x8 skips for height, 3x8
hops for distance each leg, 3 x 30m towing runs and 5 x 40m sprints would
be a short but useful workout if performed once or twice a week throughout
the season. Scheduling strength-training workouts is more difficult. If the
program is weekend matches only, then players could do a general strength-
training workout on a Monday and Wednesday afternoon, leaving plenty of
time to recover for the weekend match. However, if there are midweek
fixtures, then strength training may have to be sacrificed or reduced to light
workouts purely to maintain strength .

The best way for a player to develop his strength would be to start a
strength-training program in the off-season. Three strength workouts a week
would result in improvements. Once the pre-season training starts, the player
can reduce to twice weekly and then fit in workouts when possible during
the season. This way the player can maintain the strength gains made during
the summer.

Maximum strength exercises should only be targeted during the off-season.


Afterwards, they should be done only once a week to maintain strength
during the season. Maximum strength can only be achieved if it is
concentrated on, and training for it can interfere with other important
activities.

With careful planning and careful selection of exercises, keeping sessions


short but high quality, extra training should be practicable, although
sensitivity to the training status of the players is important when prescribing
extra sessions.
When I think of kicking, for some reason Bruce Lee always comes to
mind. I always wondered what kind of damage he could have done to
a football or soccer ball. When most people remember Lee, they
remember his speed and quickness. I cannot recollect a time when
someone said, "Man, Bruce has a huge squat, and he can double his
body weight on the bench press." We all know him as an explosive
dude.

Being from a powerlifting background, I can honestly say I know


several people that squat over 800lbs and bench well over 600 lbs.
These are some mean guys that could rip me in half and really hurt
me if they wanted to, but I would rather have them kick me than
Bruce any day.

The moral to my ramblings is that kicking is a rapidly performed


explosive movement, and to get better at doing it, we need to utilize
rapid, explosive movements. I am not going to get into the anatomy
and physiology behind the some of these exercises, but I will explain
them is as much detail as possible. Let us look at some new ways to
train the hips. If feel that it is important that you train the entire hip,
not just the flexor mechanism. This ensures that the pelvis and hip
joints are securely stabilized during such a dynamic activity.

Warming Up
You should always perform a
thorough warm-up prior to any type of exercise. You can use the
following dynamic warm-up to prep your bodily systems for strenuous
activity.

1. Jumping Jacks
2. High Knees
3. Butt Kickers
4. Sumo Squat
5. Good Mornings
6. Lunge and Twist
7. Feet to Hands
8. Tin Soldier
9. Scorpion
10. Iron Cross
11. Elbow to Instep
12. 1 Leg RDL
13. Lateral Lunge
14. Walking Ham Stretch

Bilateral Drills

These are hip training with the speed sled exercises.

Attach a rope to the ring on the sled. On the loose end of the rope, tie
a loop. Tie loops at both ends of a second piece of rope, which
should be minimally 8-feet long. Feed the double looped rope through
the loop on the sled rope. The double looped rope should slide back
and forth freely through the sled rope. Place one foot in each end of
the double looped rope. Keep the weight light.

1. Bear Crawl - stay on all fours and walk forward focusing on


snapping the knee through.
2. Forward Walk - walk forward snapping the leg through.
3. High Knee - walk forward using a high knee step. Explosively
drive the knees forward.
4. Lateral slide - Laterally slide using a slower step. Try to keep
tension on the rope.

Belt Drills

Attach the sled to a lifting or speed harness belt.

1. Forward Straight Leg Walk - Keep the leg locked straight as


you walk forward.
2. Forward Low Walk - Stay low as you walk
3. Backward Low Walk - Stay low as you walk and try to fully
extend the knee.
4. Lateral X-Over Walk - Stay Low as you crossover in front.
Push through with the trail hip.

Unilateral Drills

Attach the sled to one leg.

1. Forward Walk - Snap the loaded leg through


2. Lateral Push Slide - The sled should be attached to the lead
leg. Snap the lead leg over.
3. X-Over - The sled should be attached to the trail leg. Cross the
trail leg over in front of the lead leg.
4. Lateral Pull Slide - The sled should be attached to the trail leg.
Use a wide step.
5. Backwards Walk - Stay low and drive the leg through.