Building a Proper Soccer Development Program

Andrew Peterson

Before starting any program it is imperative for strength and conditioning coaches to conduct a detailed analysis of the demands of a sport, identifying key evaluation points that can be tested to measure the athlete’s current state and to measure the development of the athlete throughout the program. Soccer is a sport that places high demand on all energy systems of the body. It is crucial to have high aerobic capacity and be able to maintain an average heart rate of about 85% heart rate max for the duration of the match. Athletes must have a high anaerobic capacity being able to repeat top speed sprints without sufficient recovery. Studies show that a “normal” soccer match consists of 250 brief intense aerobic actions, 39 repeated sprint efforts, and sprinting about every 90 seconds that lasts 2-4 seconds. Further intense actions on the field include 111 on the ball activities, jumping, and changing direction 90-100 times at 90-180 degrees. Striking the ball, turning, jumping, maximum strength, changing pace, cutting, accelerating, decelerating and sliding are all forceful actions occurring throughout a match that require near maximum levels of strength and power. The key to the program is to develop the body in all necessary areas so that it can work efficiently as a whole and maintain the high level of strength and conditioning needed throughout the entire match.

Unconditioned soccer players are less productive soccer players. Soccer players who demonstrate a lack in conditioning result in a high occurrence in ACL injuries, especially in female players. This is           usually due to an increased knee valgus (knee slides inward) during deceleration activities such as sprinting, jumping and cutting caused by poor neuromuscular control. Deconditioned players also show a lower countermovement jump height and slower sprint times, which is likely due to weak lower body strength. Reduced distance covered in a match is another byproduct of poor conditioning. This is caused by a low VO2max. Finally, low total sprint distances and high intensity distance covered in a competitive match, which can be attributed to both a low VO2max and low relative strength. All of these issues can be solved through a proper strength and conditioning program. Unfortunately, most programs out there are being done by coaches or other individuals who have not studied exercise physiology well enough to produce a great program. Anyone can make you move but only the best can make you improve.

Our program at Integrated Sports Performance is based on principles, not philosophy. It is the result of research, science, practice and implementation. Our programs are built on reliable data and consistent effort. The following are some components of our soccer training program. For more information or to try one of our sessions you should contact us immediately. Our sessions fill up fast with many eager athletes wanting to improve daily.

  • Relative lower-limb control and conditioning has been found to be very important for many soccer-specific actions such as running, cutting, sprinting, changing direction, jumping and landing. We use exercises such as squat jumps and sprint mechanic training to improve lower limb strength. We also use the power clean and hang power clean, squat and a variety of single leg exercises, which have all been shown to lead to faster sprint times and stronger athletes.
  • Aerobic capacity and match performance levels are trained through various conditioning drills and games that are picked specifically for the individual and team based on initial training status, goals and development. Repeated sprints with varied rest intervals, hills, short-sided games at a high intensity, circuits in the weight room and other things are all incorporated in specific programs.
  • Strength training is monitored and tailored to each athlete to ensure maximal results. We use tracking software and constant manipulation to ensure strength, strength endurance, max strength and power are all attained by each athlete. Body composition testing is done regularly to monitor changes and ensure efficacy. A biomechanical analysis is done regularly to ensure proper technique and limit the risk of injury.

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