Fundamentals are the foundation to everything.
No matter what sport you play – basketball, hockey, or soccer – fundamentals are the building blocks to improving performance.
With soccer, specifically, it is important to focus on mastering passing, receiving, dribbling, and shooting, as these skills are directly transferable to the game.
Some of my fondest memories during my playing days are when Becky Sauerbrunn and I were training partners. We would train together every day during our off-times with the women’s national team. These sessions had a singular focus – our common goal was to master the basics and the areas that would have the most carry over to elevate our game.
The foundation for athletic development is movement.
Just as fundamental skills improve technical performance, the same is true for athletic development.
Building a foundation of movement skill and strength is vital to improving performance. A broad foundation of basic movement skills supports greater efficiency and progress on detailed, sport-specific skills.
This is where I really believe we’re missing the boat when it comes to athletic development. With access to social media and the internet, so much focus is on what elite athletes are doing today instead of what they were doing ten or twenty years ago to prepare themselves for competition.
I see this phenomenon in some of the soccer players I coach, many of whom have aspirations of playing soccer in college, in our professional league, and even potentially with the national team. They have an appreciable level of soccer skill, but often struggle to perform that skill at high speeds on the field. Since they haven’t developed a broad spectrum of athletic movements, it is increasingly difficult for them to meet the demands of the game. Perhaps most importantly, limited athleticism makes them more susceptible to injury, which is causing them to cap out on their overall athletic potential and soccer development way too early.
The Performance Pyramid provides us with what an ideal athletic development plan should look like: Fundamental movement quality–>Strength/Speed/Power–>Sport-Specific Skill.
En route to developing sport-specific skills, we need to remember that skill-based exercises depend on a foundation of movement quality and efficiency and performance.
So where do we go from here?
We need to provide young athletes with the knowledge and education of how to perform fundamental movements that ensure a strong foundation that supports improved performance, greater strength, and injury prevention.
I think renowned strength coach, Dan John’s, Fundamental Human Movements are a good place to start. He states, regardless of sport, every athlete should be able to:
- Push (i.e. push-up)
- Pull (i.e. pull-up, inverted row)
- Hip Hinge (i.e. deadlift)
- Squat (i.e. goblet squat)
- Carry (i.e. loaded carries)
- Perform single-leg work (i.e. single-leg squats)
*Band Pull-Throughs: Great exercise that helps teach the hip hinge.
*Inverted Row: An example of a horizontal pulling exercise.
While movement fundamentals are a good place to start, it’s important to remember that athletic development doesn’t happen overnight. The same goes for developing soccer-specific skills – mastery takes time and commitment to the process. Focus on becoming a complete athlete is what sets up potential for a lifetime of good movement.
Strength and performance coaching helps young athletes pursue their goals.
Since retiring from professional soccer and venturing into the world of strength and performance coaching I’ve been fortunate to work with hundreds of athletes in an in-person setting – helping them discover and work towards their goals. It has been incredibly rewarding to be able to share lessons learned from my career and my passion for strength and performance training with young athletes throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Despite a rigorous travel schedule, I have continued to receive requests to make trips to additional states and countries to train/coach. As much as I would love to, unfortunately, I physically can’t be everywhere at once.
This is why I decided to team up with Exercise.com and create the Lori Lindsey Soccer Performance Specialization group, which enables me to provide soccer players with the ability to get strength and performance coaching, no matter where they live.
When reflecting on my own development as an elite athlete, it is the quality of coaching that had the biggest impact. It enabled me to accelerate my growth as a soccer player. I am truly excited to be able to offer that same support through this online training program – a program that supplements young athletes’ current, more technically-oriented soccer training and helps get them closer to their goals.