Posted: June 2, 2021 in Uncategorized

A sophomore High School Soccer player name Brian approached me to ask me to help him develop his game to be able to play at the college ranks. His skills were excellent but he felt he lacked the athleticism to compete at that level.

After a functional assessment revealed some classic soccer imbalances such as hip flexor tightness and imbalances, some quad dominance and forward shoulder posture we embarked on an interesting and what turned out to be record setting quest.

On 2/12/19 we had our first session and all that was addressed was inadequate knee punching, overstriding and inefficient shin angles and a lack of drive at the shoulders which can contribute up to 10% of an athletes “oomph” when he accelerates. We also woke up his hamstrings since I explained his brakes would be key as much as his engine. We followed this up with on 2/19 and 2/26 getting into more advanced techniques. I also provided some suggestions for alterations to his strength program getting into rep ranges designed to encourage fast twitch and enhance intermediate twitch conversion.

On 2/14/19 we had our second session focusing on his brakes and change of direction. Gluteus medius group needed woken up and he needed to learn to engage his glutes and hams. Low and leveraged needed to feel that way also.

Workout #7, 9 and 11 introduced some work on eliminating false step and reaction work to movement, sound and color. Acceleration continued to be overloaded.

Workout #8, 10 and 12 covered transition steps that occur when you have to stop start, turn etc. Reaction was added also

Cup Season was on us and we made some adjustments as we got into May. Plyometric Intensity increased while the volume of our efforts decreased. An additional test indicated that his strength resources were plenty adequate but we needed some more plyo work to bring out his explosion.

Retesting indicated his ten yard dash had improved by .3(unusual gain but expected since his first step was inefficient and allowed for a big improvement). Shuttle had improved by .38. Vertical leap had gone up 4 inches and his broad jump increased by a foot. He indicated he felt like a new player on the field.

Our work in June and July focused on more and more reaction work, starting from very awkward stances and intense overload on some basics that we did on Day 1 and Day 2. Hip swivel work as well as getting to more balls in the air was stressed as well. He felt he was making plays he never made before and could recover easily when beat.

Next retesting indicated another .12 improvement in 10 yard dash, .2 in the shuttle, another 2 in vertical leap and another 8 inches in the broad jump.

It should be noted that this young man never missed a training session and always took care of strength training sometimes at the facility and sometimes on his own.

Excellent outcome.

Additionally, we knew that we would be looking for this in advance:

5 things we’ve noticed over the last 23 years working with soccer athletes.

  • Everyone could use some more strength. All else aside, more strength makes you flat out more athletic. Power is your ability to recruit strength in a hurry and is a requirement during sprinting. Power also helps during cutting, jumping and kicking. Strength and stability keeps you from getting knocked off of the ball.
  • The athletes could use some more oblique and abdominal strength, stability and power. Your lower abdomen provides the anchor from which all movement can occur. This helps when you are kicking, jumping or sprinting. Have you ever watched a player run fast without the ball and look like he or she is speed skating? This tends to happen a lot with soccer. Sometimes it is motor and is a result of elbows that are flailing to the outside but more often it is the hips that are rotating. Force generated by the hip flexors and powerful arm action can’t be controlled by the body’s secondary rotational stabilizer, the obliques. This produces a roll in the hips, a zigzag foot strike pattern and arm action that belongs on the ice, not on the soccer field.
  • Many of the players use a crossover step to move laterally with out the ball instead of an open step. Takes longer and is inefficient in moving short distances
  • Many athletes do not dorsiflex(pull the toes up) at the ankle during planting and during the recovery phase of sprinting. This is sometimes not a natural occurrence, particularly with soccer players who must point their toes to kick! As the shin swings forward right before ground contact, a nice dorsiflexed ankle provides a shorter lever at the knee(easier to turn over) as well a more efficient ground contact in line with the hips, not in front of the hips. Dorsiflexed ankles also send a warning to the knee joint and hip joint that they need to be ready to fire in advance.
  • Many players have a false step that wastes time and is inefficient

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