3 Best Exercises To Improve Your Performance In Soccer
To improve your soccer skills, you need to perform exercises that help boost agility, endurance, strength, and engage your core muscles.
Soccer (or Football, as it’s known outside of the U.S.) is one of the most demanding sports you can play.
Not only does it require an extensive amount of both cardiovascular ability and endurance, but it also calls for a degree of physical coordination that is highly advanced, even amongst other sports.
American football may call for more strength, and swimming may require a higher amount of muscular endurance. But when it comes to leveraging all of the strength, speed, and agility you can muster, nothing comes close to soccer.
Like any sport, you will only get better in soccer with daily practice, and a highly effective fitness regime that will target your entire body.
You can’t just run all the time – that will get your stamina up, but you’ll need some strong leg muscles to kick the ball to a receiving teammate or maneuver it around a guard from the opposing team.
To achieve all that, you need to focus on exercises that will target the specific muscle groups and facets of fitness you’ll need to play your best.
To help you get started, the following are the three best exercises to help your body adjust to, and handle, the rigorous world of soccer.
The Best Exercises In Soccer Training
While physical fitness is just one of the many key soccer skills that you’ll need to succeed in the game, it lays the foundation that, without which, you won’t be able to achieve anything else.
1. Suicide Sprints
The name may sound morbid, but for increasing cardiovascular ability, speed, and agility, few things are going to prepare to play at your peak like suicide sprints.
Bear in mind – this is an advanced type of sprinting. So if you’re just starting out, and haven’t built up a great degree of endurance, build yourself up before you attempt this exercise.
To perform this exercise effectively, find an open space, with a surface that has plenty of traction for your feet, and measures about the size of a standard basketball court (if you can regularly use a basketball court, all the better).
- Start at one end of the court, on the boundary line;
- Sprint to the free throw line, then back to the start;
- Then sprint to the half court line, then back to start;
- Sprint to the opposing free throw line, back to start;
- And finally, to the opposing boundary line, then back to start.
Rest at least one minute, and then complete anywhere from 5 to 10 repetitions, or about 15 to 20 minutes worth of sprints.
Do this no more than twice a week, and allow at least two days rest in-betweens sessions.
This exercise is perfect for soccer players because it engages the muscles that you’ll use the most during play. It also trains your body to quickly and efficiently adapt to sudden stops and changes in direction, the same conditions you’ll have to endure as the soccer ball moves around the field.
2. Barbell Back Squats
While your sprints will help you develop the endurance and stamina that you’ll need to take to the field, barbell back squats are the perfect exercise to develop the raw power you’ll need to effectively support your weight, control the ball, and launch it for a successful goal.
- Starting with a weight that’s comfortable for you, place the barbell behind the neck so that it rests across the top of your traps and shoulders, gripping it at opposite ends.
- While controlling your movement, and keeping your back in a fairly upright position, bend your knees and allow just your butt to drop down until your thighs are at least parallel with the ground.
- Stand back up, with the majority of the weight being supporting in your heels and glutes until you’re back in the upright position.
- Try to keep your knees “behind” your toes for the duration of the exercise, and do not let your back incline forward, so that you’re bending at the waist.
Depending on whether you’re trying to improve your muscular endurance under duress, or increase your strength and power, do:
- between 8 to 12 repetitions at a medium weight (about 75 to 80% of your one rep max) for 3 sets to train your endurance;
- or 3 to 5 repetitions for 5 sets at a heavyweight (around 85 to 95% of your one rep max) for strength conditioning.
3. Barbell Rollouts
While power, speed, agility, and endurance will see you through much of a soccer game, you’re going to need some good core stability to not only prevent injury but prevent your body from wasting energy through excessive movement.
Our core (the abs and lower back) stabilizes the movement of our torso, which in turn controls nearly every other part of the body.
With almost any activity, both in and out of soccer, we engage our core to some degree to help stabilize our bodies, so that our other muscles and appendages can do their jobs.
- To perform this exercise successfully, start by getting on your knees, then raising your feet into the air.
- Grasp a barbell (the weight doesn’t matter, so long as the weights are round and can spin freely) in a position that’s comfortable for you.
- While exhaling, slowly push the barbell out in front of you, until your arms are as close to being “above” your head as you can get.
- Keep your back straight, and your abs contracted, throughout.
- When you’ve reached the peak position, start breathing in, and slowly roll yourself back to the start position.
- Your arms should be fairly rigid, but not locked out at any time during this exercise.
Do as many barbell rollouts as you can, but make sure there are at least 8 reps. Then rest for a couple of minutes and repeat. Do 3 to 5 sets to really engage your core muscles and build up strength around your waist.
Hopefully, these three soccer exercises will help you improve your performance and become a better player.