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The Physical Demands of Football (Soccer) – Part II

After discussing the energy system demands of football and how to condition for the game in Part I, I will now focus on the motor system demands.

Just to be clear, when I talk about motor system demands, I’m talking about everything that is controlled by the motor cortex and associated areas in the brain. I’m well aware that the only true motor quality is strength, and that without sensory information, such as proprioception, this would be an uncoordinated mess, but for simplicity’s sake I will group everything from strength and agility to balance under the heading of motor system demands.

Strength is the foundation of every other motor quality. Charles Staley has likened maximal strength to the top rung of a ladder, where if you improve it, all the other motor qualities below it are improved as well.

Footballers are traditionally notorious for shying away from the weight room. Whilst this may have changed at the high end of the game, many recreational players still avoid the iron for a myriad of (mythological) reasons ranging from tradition to fear of becoming ‘muscle bound’ and immobile.

It is now common knowledge that such claims are ludicrous, and that strength training should be part of every athlete’s regime.

Footballer players should focus on increasing strength in the big lifts, in decreasing order of importance: squats, pulls (O-lift variations, rows and chins) and presses. There isn’t much demand in the game to move external loads, so loading so progress from bodyweight, to weighted vest and finally to barbell. This progression will teach the body to become more efficient at moving, which is one of the goals of strength training. พนันออนไลน์ ดีที่สุด

A sample, and very basic program could look like:


1a – Dynamic Warm Up
2a – Power Exercise (Jump, O-lift variation)
3a – Squat Variation (Back, front, overhead, weighted vest)
3b – Upper Body Pull (Closed chain variations such as inverted rows and pull ups)
3c – Upper Body Push (Closed chain variations such as push ups and dips)
4a – Core Exercise (Planks, Anti-rotations, Roll-outs)

Depending on the player’s needs and muscle balance, a second lower body exercise focusing on the posterior chain could also be included.

The point to emphasise is that most players have such undeveloped strength that a basic program is all they will ever need. Remember, the aim of training is supposed to complement the performance in the game, not be the focus itself.

Power training, such as jumps to a high box, broad jumps, med ball throws teach the body to generate force as quickly as possible. Important for striking the ball, where you only have a split second to generate the force to kick the ball – the more force you can generate, the harder you can kick.

Another important part of the game is the ability to rapidly decelerate and change direction. Think of a winger marauding down the flank, only to suddenly cut the ball back to whip in a cross. To train the body to better decelerate, plyometric exercises, such as depth drops, where the object is to absorb force, and depth jumps, where the object is to rapidly go from eccentric to concentric contraction – working on the stretch-shortening, or elastic part of muscle contraction.

From a training economy point of view, I favour the O-Lift variations. Although they can have a longer learning curve than jumps and throws, the investment is well worth it. They involve applying force against the ground rapidly, then rapidly absorbing that force. Even basic variations such as squat jumps and jump shrugs are great!

So far all I have talked about is strength and power, which are the foundations of any solid program. We also have to address balance and agility. Nothing will trump actually playing the game in this regard. Including single leg lifts – once some decent strength has been achieved on the bilateral squats – can definitely help the area of balance (I use the term balance to describe maintaining posture – especially in a single leg stance and/or whilst being interrupted by external forces – like a player bumping another who is shielding the ball).

However, as far as specificity goes, playing and training will trump just about anything. With solid conditioning, as outline in part I, a good foundation of strength, agility will be achieved with playing and training. Small sided games, cone drills and reactive change of direction drills will be the basis here. Performed with a ball they can improve skills at the same time.

Off season, when you have more time, you can have sessions dedicated to strength/power, conditioning, agility and skills. In season you could combine the conditioning and agility training, possibly even the skills training at times. A decreased strength/power training schedule will leave more time for tactical sessions and recovery.



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