This article is guest blogged by Jonas Forsberg of YouthSoccerSpeed.com
Are you confused and don’t know what step to take in order to take your soccer speed to the next level? To start with, it all comes down to the basics. Let me explain why.
There’s been some pretty heated discussions now for a while (at least here in Sweden), whether a soccer player should be spending time in the gym or not. I think we all can agree on the fact that in order to become a better athlete, no matter what sport you play – you need to get stronger. So in order to become a better soccer player, do you want to accomplish that by stacking up the weights and start spending several hours a week in the gym? Not necessarily.
Here’s where the argument divides. On one side, you have coaches who always preach Olympic Lifting Techniques and using heavy weights to get the players stronger. In a perfect world, learning these different lifts and having someone professional and knowledgeable enough to help you with this, then it’s definitely a good idea as you get a little older.
However, and here’s where I am at with my philosophy when it comes to lower body strength training for soccer players looking to improve their speed. There are a lot of things to consider if you want to start using dumbbells and barbells. First and foremost, it will take more time (you need to spend more hours working out), you need to have a gym membership, and you need to find the right trainer for it (a bad trainer that teaches you the wrong technique when lifting may have terrible consequences for you).
So with this method, I believe, for a lot of youth soccer players, you need none of that. Sure, you may need an extra 30-45 minutes a week, but it can all be added on to your regular soccer training, meaning all of it can be performed on the soccer field, without additional equipment.
At first, we need to look at the basics. These include:
– Squats (2-leg bodyweight squat)
– Hip Bridges (2-leg, hold at the top )
– Lateral Lunges
– Split Squats
Learn to master these exercises and focus on technique rather than the amount of reps you can do. If you can perform the squat for 5 perfect reps, then 5 reps it is.
These 4 drills are then upon mastering of the technique, progressed to primarily 1-leg variations or more challenging exercises. In the game of soccer, you need to create unilateral strength, meaning you need to be equally as strong in your left leg as your right leg.
Look at linear acceleration for instance. In order to get faster, you need to learn how to produce more force to the ground, and that is accomplished through learning the proper techniques for doing this, together with improving your lower body strength!
My next example is deceleration and changing directions. If you have an imbalance between your legs where one leg is much stronger then the other, then you’re definitely going to experience a difference based on which leg you stop, cut or change a direction with. If you feel you are way better at stopping or changing a direction only using your left leg, don’t you think your opponent will take advantage of that and only try to beat you going on your bad side?
I am guessing he would, especially when you advance to higher levels, playing against better players.
Learn to master these exercises showed above first, and I promised you – you can progress a lot by only doing lower body strength on the soccer field, you don’t need to spend a lot of time in the gym to accomplish that.
Down the road when you get really strong, you can keep on improving by incorporating medicine balls and weighted vests to get stronger, and keep on getting faster!
About The Author
Jonas Forsberg is a Swedish Soccer Speed Coach who helps soccer players to improve their soccer specific speed, without making it too complicated. You can find more valuable information over at The Soccer Speed Blog