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The kickoff for soccer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup starts this week with Canada as a proud host. Six cities will be involved in the tournament: Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg. Soccer is a high intensity game and the athletes competing are in top physical condition, but they don’t get that way just by accident.  Intense preparation is involved and requires a training program that includes speed, endurance and strength – all the elements of a high level soccer competition.

Increasing strength should be an important component of all athletic training but is often overlooked in soccer. Strength is the basis for speed and power, both of which are essential in soccer. When you increase the size of the muscle mass, you also increase the efficiency of the existing muscle which has a positive effect on performance. Obviously, most soccer players focus on their core and legs since strong legs equal a faster player.

Benefits of strength training for soccer players*:

  • Injury prevention – Since soccer has a lot of stop and start motions, training should have a particular focus on building up the muscles around the knees and ankles. Squats and lunges are ideal exercises for these areas.
  • Increased force in kicking and heading – It takes muscular endurance and strength to have real kicking power. Try single leg exercises, explore with different platforms and repetitions to find what works for you. Squats are also a good idea and adding dumbbells to the mix will challenge you further as well as work on your core.
  • Improved jumping abilities – Plyometric or jump training exercises are designed to produce fast, powerful movements that enhance explosive muscular performance. This generally includes anything that involves jumping, bounding, hopping, arm pushing, and “catching and throwing” weighted objects such as medicine balls. Plyometric training is great because it can be performed at any skill level with just your own body weight and no special equipment.
  • Faster acceleration and increased maximal running speed – A soccer game involves a lot of running and for that you need strong legs to push you off the ground and propel you forward quickly. Traditional weight training will help develop the core strength needed and plyometric exercises mentioned above are also crucial.

The majority of your exercises should be ground-based, using your body weight or free weights as resistance, and should ensure that your entire body is engaged. Soccer requires skills that benefit from muscle strength but also put a high demand on aerobic and anaerobic capacity so to get the best results, soccer athletes need a combination of both strength and endurance exercises.

*Talk to a professional strength coach to show you the proper form before trying any of the recommended exercises.

References from the SIRC Collection:

Beijsterveldt A, Horst N, Port I, Backx F. How Effective are Exercise-Based Injury Prevention Programmes for Soccer Players?. Sports Medicine. April 2013;43(4):257-265.

Datson N, Hulton A, Gregson W, et al. Applied Physiology of Female Soccer: An Update. Sports Medicine. September 2014;44(9):1225-1240.

Enoksen E, Staxrud M, Tønnessen E, Shalfawi S. THE EFFECT OF SUPERVISED STRENGTH TRAINING ON YOUNG ELITE MALE SOCCER PLAYERS’ PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE. Serbian Journal Of Sports Sciences. October 2013;7(4):195-201.

FAUDEA O, ROTHA R, DI GIOVINEA D, ZAHNERA L, DONATHA L. Combined strength and power training in high-level amateur football during the competitive season: a randomised-controlled trial. Journal Of Sports Sciences. October 2013;31(13):1460-1467.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.