Core strength for Soccer (Footballers)
One of the biggest things we see with soccer players training their core strength is that they still do the classic exercises. Their strength coach will be like, “We’re doing our little ab circuit with crunches and planks, maybe a swiss ball crunch in there.” Athletes walk away thinking they are effectively training their core. Problem is, it’s not.
We have to think about training the gut, core, or trunk with how it aligns with the sport of soccer. To begin, we have to think about dynamic trunk control. We don’t want to be staring down at our feet while dribbling and running down the field. We want to be able to see the field, have dynamic trunk control, and have that foot-eye connection to coordinate really well.
We have to think of the trunk as the back, gut, and hips altogether. This takes us to the fourth key exercise to improving core strength for soccer.
4. Overhead Walking Lunges To Hiplock
With a ten-kilo plate overhead, we want to alternate legs as we lunge forward. The slight variation in this movement is that each time we step forward, we bring the hip, knee flexion, and dorsiflexion raised into 90* angles. We want to see a slight little twist holding the 90* positions held for a solid pause.
The pause helps improve dynamic trunk control. This movement is a full-body movement that targets the posterior chain. The movement also trains the hiplock which will help with dynamic trunk control, speed, and coordination when out on the pitch.
Do this movement for two to three sets of five to ten reps with each leg.
A key concept we have to remember here is that when we are training we want to train from a full-body perspective while still improving our core strength.
3. Chinese Side Bends
This movement is more of an isolation movement that really targets the obliques. The reason why we want to target the obliques is that if we are cutting on a lateral perspective, planting and cutting back, we are trying to cut rapidly to try to get into a better position to score or defend. Strength in obliques helps a ton. This is where Chinese side bends come into play.
Chinese side bends are done is to help prevent any unnecessary lateral movement. We want to grab two kettlebells to perform this movement. We want to do almost an upright row with a little bit of a twist. We want to have a little bit of hip flexion alternating from side to side. This movement makes the obliques super sore. Do two to three sets of ten to fifteen reps to each side.
The great thing about this movement is that it helps decelerate in the non-dominant side when going to kick the ball. This creates a stable foundation from the obliques to drive into the ground to transfer more energy into the ball.
We need to realize that we want to train the core in isolation and in a fully symbiotic relationship to full body movements.
2. Overhead Medball Slams
One reason we love this movement is it helps athletes performing throw-ins they can stand on the side and just launch the ball. It helps athletes to learn how to explode and rapidly increase recruitment in the trunk. On top of that, it helps athletes learn to get the energy from the ground to transfer and coordinate through the hips, into the trunk, into the thoracic spine, into the lats, and then slam with a rapid muscular action will help dramatically with throw-ins.
It is important to train core strength with some explosive movements. Some coaches will say that is all about training just long duration, slower exercises. Yes, movements like planks have their place. But it is important to train slower and at a really high speed as well, thus the overhead medball slams.
That’s why it is all about getting a fifteen-pound medicine ball, get up on the toes, and slam rapidly. As soon as that ball bounces, grab it and repeat it fast as possible. Just be aware of what the gut is doing.
For a bonus, we can do a simple isolation movement like a v-up to pre-fatigue the targeted muscles in the core to increase the rate of coordination and mind-muscle connection before doing overhead medball slams for two to four sets of ten reps as fast as possible.
1. Pass The Plate
This is a pretty simple movement that can be done in various ways.
We can either have the plate on the shins or in the hands to start. We want to hold a hollow body position in which we are pushing the lumbar spine into the floor, feeling our belly button pushing down as well. This will help us bring in more contractions from the trunk. We then want to do is bring the plate to just above our belly button and pass the plate and go back into the hollow body position.
Besides a plate, a medball, a jug, or anything that can be thought of to be passed can be used. This movement can be done rapidly, with a pause overhead, a pause when the plate is on the shins, or a pause when passing the object in the middle.
This exercise will transfer really well to the field. It will help when trying to cut and trying to transfer from the feet to the upper body while banging and pushing the opponents.
We want to train the trunk in isolation but we also want to train the core with full-body coordination. We want core strength that leads to better speed, superior agility, and the ability to remain rigid when opponents push upon the body. Utilizing these four exercises makes that happen. Not only do the movements above strengthen the core, but they also strengthen the core in a way that makes athletes more capable of feats of athleticism out on the pitch. Try the movements out and then comment below with the heaviest plate passed!
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.