Plyometrics for soccer is a truly effective way to increase both explosive power and speed.
Research has proven that when muscles stretch before contracting they will contract with more force and speed. This is basically what a plyometric exercises does.
They rapidly stretch muscles before immediately demanding a powerful concentric contraction. We’ll explain this using a practical example to show you what we mean…
Imagine a player jumping to hit a header.
This movement begins with a downward thrust. Try jumping without bending your knees first for yourself.
Dipping down just before performing a standing jump stretches muscle groups like your hip extensors and quadriceps. These muscles are the ones that contract forcefully just a split second later to make you jump. Now here comes the key part…
Keeping this movement short and rapid, the more forceful you contract these muscles and, bam! You’re jumping nice and high.
We’ll avoid getting too deeply into the science behind this because it gets just a little too technical.
Doesn’t this show you how your general strength training – such as lifting weights – does nothing to promote your pre-stretching phase? On that note; don’t use weights when performing plyometrics for soccer; even light loads. You get more than enough resistance from your body weight, and it’s important to keep excellent form.
This pre-stretching movement is needed for more than just jumping. Plyometrics for soccer will benefit any form of explosive movement – a rapid shift in direction, sprinting, and kicking.
Important Guidelines for Plyometric Training
Here are some important guidelines for plyometric for soccer training;
- Spend 5-10 minutes warming up through light aerobic exercise before stretching all your major muscle groups for 5-10 minutes.
- Begin training with a session of plyometrics for soccer before doing endurance training or a wealth of ball work; keep the muscles fresh.
- Plyometric training shouldn’t leave you feeling out of breath or tired. Athletes can sometimes feel the need to keep pushing themselves, but it’s important you don’t. Stick to the program in order to avoid muscle soreness and injury a few days later.
- Plyometric actions must be performed as intensely and quickly as possible while keeping high quality. When performing jumping exercises for example, you should explode upwards as your feet touch the ground. Don’t let yourself sink too deeply into a squat; stay on the ground as little as possible.
- It’s normal to leave two minutes between sets. Remember to keep good form and avoid becoming fatigued.
- You must keep ground contacts to less than 120 instances for each muscle group in each section of plyometrics
- Performing two sessions a week with one or two days rest between sessions during late pre-season is more than enough, while one session a week during the in-season will also be sufficient.
- It should go without saying, but you must end a training session when muscles start to eel sore.
One of the most important guidelines for plyometrics for soccer is having a solid, well-balanced strength base before beginning. Failing to do this can do more harm than good. If you have read through some other articles about plyometrics you’ll know that it converts your existing strength into raw power, which means that there must be an initial base of strength.
Sample Plyometric Exercises for Soccer
Here is a selection of plyometrics for soccer exercises. A complete session could include between 10 and 15 sets of 8 repetitions in all. This means you could perform 3 sets of 8 reps for 8 exercises.
Jump running is perhaps the easiest of the plyometric exercises. To put it simply; you should run in “slow motion” while landing on alternate feet. Try to get as much distance and height as you can with each stride. Count one rep for each right and left foot strike.
- Place a series of small cones or obstacles around 3 feet apart in a straight line. How many obstacles you place depend on the amount of repetitions being performed.
- Begin behind the first obstacle from a semi-squat position.
- Jump as high and far as you can over every obstacle. Start out with some practicing to get a better idea of how much distance should be between each marker. Once again you should aim to minimise the amount of time you spend on ground.
- Your obstacles can be anything you want; use a training top if you want or just place a line on the track.
- Start by marking a small box on the floor that’s around 2 square feet using chalk or paint
- Start at one corner of the box and – while keeping your feet together – jump from corner to corner randomly
- The most important part of this exercise is the speed and how quickly you move your legs rather than how high you jump
- Count each time you touch the ground as one repetition.
Lateral jumps are an advanced form of plyometric exercise. Start small and work your way up over several weeks. Advanced exercises should be kept between 3 and 6 sets.
- Stand alongside a box, bench, or cone approximately 30cm high
- Keep your feet hip distance apart and jump sideways over the obstacle as high as you can
- Jump back into the starting position as quickly as you can while keeping ground contact to a minimum; this will count as one rep
- Jump over anything you want; training tops or lines on the track. Keep the discipline to jump as high as you possibly can.
This is another advanced plyometric exercise that should be built up over several weeks. As always, keep the total amount of sets to between 3 and 6.
- Stand on a bench, box, or sturdy chair around 30-40cm high
- Step – don’t jump – off the bench and explode vertically as high as possible as soon as your feet hit the ground
- Try to keep ground contact as minimal as possible – don’t let yourself sink into a deep squat
Play the Best Soccer of Your Life
All you need to play the best soccer of your life is some dedication and a good soccer fitness program. You’ll soon have more confidence, energy, and consistency in your game.
However, if you still find yourself struggling to stick to or create a top quality training program, consider booking one of Coachable’s private soccer coaches. They’ll know how to build a training routine specifically catered to their goals while giving you focused attention and feedback turning you into a more complete footballer in no time! What are you waiting for?
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