KISS for improving soccer performance

These days it?s becoming common practice to start sports earlier and earlier in a child?s life. Soccer is no exception. In the United States the popularity of soccer has exploded along with strength and conditioning camps focusing on sport specific programs. Unfortunately many coaches do not train their players correctly because they do not look at the metabolic demands of the sport.

Research on soccer players has shown, to the surprise of many, anaerobic as well as aerobic power are prerequisites to success. More-over, it?s been reported that 96% of the sprints in a soccer game are shorter than 30m, and 49% are shorter than 10m. It?s becomes obvious that strength and power are important aspects of a player?s development. As soccer becomes more competitive, becoming faster and stronger to get to the ball before your opponent by jumping or sprinting is becoming more important. As a strength coach the question is, how do we develop a player to their optimum ability?

A study by Chelly et al recently reported the effects of a back squat training program on leg power, jump performance, and field performance in junior soccer players. Twenty two male soccer players were divided into two groups a resistance training group (RTG) and a control group (CG). Both groups completed tests before the start of the program and after 2 months of strength training twice per week with heavy loads (80 ? 100% 1RM). The tests included a force velocity test to evaluate power, 3 jump tests, a 40m dash, and a 1 RM back half squat. (J Strength Cond Res 2009;23(8):2241-2249)

No significant changes were noted in leg or thigh muscle volume after the 2 month training period between the 2 groups. However, the RTG showed significant improvement over the CG in leg cycling power, jumping and sprinting. This is another example of the value in sticking to the basics. Too many coaches try to reinvent the wheel while training their athletes. There is no need or value in complicated, high volume strength training programs. KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid and train according to the athletes needs


Ten simple steps to getting stronger now

Follow these 10 steps by Men?s to gain more strength (and essentially, more muscle).

1.) Own the “big four.”
The squat, deadlift, bench press, and shoulder press are the best strength-building exercises, period. The chinup and row are great moves too, but don’t make them the focus of your workout ? they can be assistance lifts to complement the bench and shoulder press, keeping your pulling muscles in balance with the pressing ones.

2.) Use barbells first.
Forget all the fad equipment. The barbell is king, the dumbbell is queen, and everything else is a court jester ? it may have its place, but it’s not essential. Start your workouts with barbell exercises, such as the “big four,” as described above. Barbells let you load a lot of weight, and lifting heavy is the first step toward getting stronger. Once your heaviest strength exercises are out of the way, you can move on to dumbbell and body-weight training.

4.) Maintain a log.
Write down your exercises, sets, reps, and the fate of each workout. Keep track of your best lifts and the most reps you’ve done with a certain weight on an exercise. Constantly strive to improve those numbers.

7.) Add weights slowly.
The main reason people plateau and stop gaining strength is that they go too heavy for too long. Abandon your ego and do your main lifts using 10% less than the most weight you can lift for the given rep range. Increase the weight each session ? but by no more than 10 pounds ? and stick with the same lifts. You’ll rarely plateau again.

To see the entire list of 10, click here.

A lot of beginners (and veterans of the gym for that matter) like to do a variety of exercises and a variety of different movements in efforts to gain muscle. But as the article notes, keeping it simple is key. Doing compound movements and keeping track of your gains is crucial. After that, everything else is just additional.


Training Frequency

How often can, or much more importantly, should I train per week? Optimum recovery time between training sessions is essential if one is going to continue to make progress. Training frequency, which is determined by ones recovery ability, is often a forgotten part of most training protocols. It never ceases to amaze me, how many people train for months and years experiencing little or no success, and never consider the fact they maybe doing too much.

You can never train too hard, but you can train too much. Training ?too much? can actually be described in two ways. The first and probably the most common way, is training too often. If you are training with 100% intensity, you should not be able to train a body part any more frequently than once every 6-8 days. Everyone should realize that if you are still feeling it from the previous workout of the same body part, then it is best to take a few more days of rest. I have actually heard people say that they train even if they are sore because it is harder on the muscles. True, it is harder on the muscles, but not in a positive way. Ask yourself, ?Where is the logic in training a muscle before it is recovered?? The muscle hasn?t had a chance to adapt to a previous training session and you tear it down with another. Training may stimulate your muscles to grow, but they don’t grow during training. Proper nutrition and enough rest between sessions is what facilitates recovery and allows the muscles to grow. If you train before the muscle is recovered, you not only slow or put a halt to your progress, you increase your risk of injury.


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