The multidirectional movements and cutting patterns inherent in soccer place great demands on the lower body and core. What is often overlooked is the strength and balance of the supporting leg, which is needed to allow the kicking leg to optimally strike the ball. Large ranges of lower body motion are required, making flexibility of the lower body another key area of focus for soccer players.
Muscular strains and tendinitis are common in soccer players. Minimizing the risk of injuries involving the two-joint muscles (in this case, muscles that cross both the hip and knee, including the groin, hamstrings, and quadriceps) requires careful emphasis on not only the concentric (shortening) phase of the training program but also the eccentric (lengthening) phase. Additionally, ensuring that both the quadriceps and hamstrings are addressed to ensure proper muscle balance is essential.
In addition to the base exercise movements recommended, diagonal patterns and actual kicking motions using elastic resistance should be performed. And although the hands are not used in soccer to advance the ball (except by the goalkeeper), several upper body resistance exercises are recommended for base strength as well as the use of elastic resistance while performing functional patterns like the two-hand overhead throw. Several sport-specific movements with elastic resistance are also recommended. Hip rotation is particularly important not only for kicking and stabilization but also for the cutting and multidirectional demands of the game.
The intermittent nature of soccer, with long periods of running and very short rest periods, make muscular endurance a top priority. Multiple sets of training with high repetition bases are recommended.
Sit on the floor with both knees extended. Loop the middle of the band around one foot and grasp the other ends of the band. Press your other (nonworking) foot down onto the band to stabilize it. Lift the foot of the working ankle toward your head against the resistance of the band. Slowly return.
Be sure to keep your knee from moving excessively to complete the exercise.
Sit on the floor with both knees extended. Loop the middle of the band around one foot and grasp the other ends of the band. Push the foot down against the resistance of the band. Slowly return.
Be sure to keep your knee from moving excessively to complete the exercise.
Sit on the floor with both knees extended. Loop the middle of the band around the foot and wrap the ends around your non-working foot, and grasp the ends of the band. Turn your foot outward away from the band. Slowly return.
Be sure to keep your knee and hip stable; don’t rotate your leg to complete the exercise.
Loop the band around your thighs, above your knees. Stand with a slight bend in your hips and knees, assuming a ready position. Take a step to one side with one leg against the resistance of the band. Continue moving in one direction taking multiple steps in a shuffling-type motion.
Keep your back and neck straight throughout the exercise. Don’t rotate your trunk or hips to complete the exercise.
Closed Chain Hip Rotation
Wrap the middle of the band around your hips, and secure each end in your hands. Stand on the leg of the hip to be exercised and lift the opposite leg. On the non-exercising side, extend your arm forward, stretching the band; keep your other hand at your waist. Twist your hips over your weight-bearing leg, your other hand at your waist. Twist your hips over your weight-bearing leg, pushing the leg of the opposite leg backward into the band. Slowly return.
Keep your shoulders in the same position as you rotate your hips. Don’t extend your back or rotate your trunk to complete the movement. Keep your elbow extended.
Stand with one foot on the middle of the band or tubing. Place the other leg behind it with the knee bent. Grasp the ends of the band at chest height with both elbows bent. Keeping your trunk upright, bend your front knee and lower your body by flexing your hips and knees. Return to the upright position against the resistance of the band.
Avoid arching your back; keep it straight. Keep your abs tight and your trunk upright at all times.
Stand on the middle of a long band with both feet. Bring the ends of the band around the outside of the feet. Grasp the ends of the band, keeping them at your hips. Lower your body into a squat, keeping your back straight. Slowly return.
Avoid arching your back; keep it straight. Keep your abs tight.
Secure both ends of the band to a stationary object. Sit on a bench facing the attachment point. Loop the middle of the band around the ankle. Flex your knee toward your buttocks and slowly return.
Be sure to keep your back straight and your abs tight. Avoid arching your back.
Secure the middle of the band to a stationary object above shoulder height. Face the attachment point. Using a staggered step with one leg slightly in front of the other, grasp the ends of the and above your shoulder height with your elbows extended in front. Bend your elbows and bring your hands to your chest, pulling the bands down and back. Slowly return.
Avoid arching your back; keep it straight. Keep your abs tight and your wrists straight.
Sit with your legs extended at least shoulder width apart. Stretch the middle of the band around both feet. Grasp both ends of the bands with your arms extended forward. Rotate the trunk to one side and return slowly to the other.
Keep your back straight and avoid leaning to one side.
Reciprocal Leg and Arm Action
Secure the ends of the band to a stationary object behind you at about knee level. Wrap the middle of the band around one thigh. Flex the hip forward, while pulling the arm on the same side backward and punching the opposite arm forward. Return and repeat.
Soccer Simulation Exercises
Hip Abduction with Soccer Ball
Loop and secure a band around your ankles. Place a soccer ball just in front and to the side of your starting position. Lunge forward toward the ball with the leg closest to the ball.
Hip Adduction with Soccer Ball
Secure both ends of the band to a stationary object a few inches off the floor. Standing beside the point of attachment, loop the band around the ankle of the leg closest to the attachment. With your weight on the other leg, shuffle a soccer ball toward the center of your body.
Diagonal Kick with Soccer Ball
Wrap one end of the band around your kicking leg near the ankle, and secure the other end at ankle height to a secure object diagonally behind you. Face away from the attachment point. Begin with your leg lifted behind you and light tension on the band. Simulate the kicking motion. Slowly return.
Controlled Kick Stabilization
Stand on one leg with one end of the band secured to a stationary object at waist height, and the other end wrapped around your non-weight bearing leg just above the ankle. Maintain a secure, balanced posture. Slowly raise and bend the knee to approximately 90 to 100 degrees against the resistance, then slowly return to the starting position.
Throw-In Simulation and Overhead Pass with Soccer Ball
Secure the ends of a band to a stationary object at about eye level. Facing away from the attachment point, stand with your arms overhead and grasp the middle of the band and the ball with both hands. Simulate a soccer throw-in pattern, bending forward at hips and trunk.
Constructing Your Workout
You now have an extensive bank of soccer-specific resistance band exercises. to get the most out of them, plan for two resistance band sessions per week, resting at least 48 hours between sessions. Select six exercises from the Base Exercises section and two from the Soccer Simulation section for a total of 8 exercises. Perform 15 reps on each exercise for three sets, with a 30 second rest period between sets.
Your resistance band training sessions should be done on days that you are not training on the soccer field or on game day. In addition, any weight resistance training that you are doing to enhance your soccer performance should be done a different day to your resistance band workout.