The Four Pillars of Soccer Physical Development Part 2: Focusing on Good Running Posture/Stance
Part 1: Focusing on Core Strength was featured in the April issue of Amplified Soccer Athlete magazine.
The four pillars of soccer are as follows: technical, tactical, mental and physical. The physical pillar can be further broken down into four of its own pillars: strength, speed, endurance and recovery. To focus on strength within the physical pillar, let’s continue with Speed - specifically good posture/stance.
Posture, which means body position, is a good indicator of movement efficiency, knowledge of body position in space, muscle balance and coordination. The first thing to look at is stance. For the most part, athletes who move the fastest, or quickest, tend to have a sound athletic stance to work from. While there is no single ideal postural position for all individuals, certain guidelines can help govern efficient athletic posture.
What to Look for to Achieve a Good Soccer Stance
Avoid Exaggerated Forward Pelvic Tilt: This slouch like stance can easily be remedied by rotating the pelvis forward and tightening the abdominals and glutes. This stance may be indicative of weak, inflexible abdominals and lower back (see the article from last issue on Core Strength).
The Tight Wheel: A sound athletic stance permits mechanically efficient function of the weight bearing joints. In other words, friction of the joints is minimized, tensions of opposing ligaments are balanced, and pressures within the joints are equalized. Excess energy expenditure from the resultant stance also means an inappropriate athletic posture. Although the length of an individual athlete's legs and torso determine the depth of their stance we can draw an imaginary circle around the ankle, knee and hip. The optimal joint angle(s) are those at which the individual athlete can meet the above criterion while moving as quickly as possible. When the athlete comes out of the stance due to a variety of reasons (fatigue, lack of focus, injury, etc.), the imaginary wheel increases in diameter and more force is needed to move the athlete. The result is slower movement.
Base of Support
Players are often told to "get low" in order to maintain a balanced position. To disrupt that balance, the center of gravity would have to be raised. An imbalanced position exists when it takes only a slight push to destroy it. The ability to maintain one's balance under unfavorable circumstances is recognized as one of the basic motor skills. There are a variety of factors which affect stability. One of these factors is the size and, more importantly for soccer, the shape of the base of support. To resist lateral external forces (such as a defender) while dribbling, or passing, the base should be widened in the direction of the oncoming force.
Foot Position/Weight Distribution
Another favorite sports cliché helps to clarify this guideline: "They're on their heels now!" Positioning yourself flat-footed (or on your heels) is slow and inefficient. From a foot’s perspective, we spring off the front part of the foot when we jump, shuffle, step or run. However, it is equally unnecessary to be up on the toes when preparing to move. Why? Because the first movement will actually be a counter movement, since the foot must come back to the ground to initiate movement. The result is wasted time and wasted motion. The foot should be planted firmly on the ground with the toes pointed straight ahead. Body weight can be distributed about 75 percent to the forefoot and 25 percent to the heel in order to allow for multi-directional movement.
Angle of Ankle/Knee/Hip
There must be equal balance in flexibility between ankle, knee and hip, so that on the first movement the center of gravity is projected in the right direction FIRST, not up or down. Remember, Wasted Motion =Wasted Time = Inefficient Movement.
Get Posture/Stance Wall Exercises from Performance Conditioning Soccer to improve your speed in the June issue of Amplified Soccer Athlete magazine.
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