Progressive Lateral Leg Series Functional Off-Season Strength/Power Training Exercises for Soccer

This article is reprinted from Performance Conditioning Soccer

The following are a menu of exercises that you can add to your off-season program to develop strength/power specific to soccer. They should be used as part of an overall program design to the individual needs of each player. 

Level 1 - The Basics

Lateral Strength and Power

One way of improving all lateral balance, strength and power is by performing The Lateral Leg Series, a progression of lateral “bounds,” first with only body weight, then with slight external resistance with a weighted vest. The following series of exercises can be performed as part of a more comprehensive strength/power program. The volume will mirror the plyometric or strength training phase you are currently in.

The Procedure

Single Load: Assume an athletic stance and “load” one leg by transferring body weight onto this leg. The opposite leg is of the ground or slightly touching based on the athlete abilities. Execute a slight triple flexion of hip, knee, and ankle, and push explosively off the involved leg. In performing the triple extension focus on simultaneous extension of the three joints. The force should be transmitted through the ball of the foot. NOT THE TOES. NOT THE HEELS.

Land on the opposite leg in an athletic stance, but “stick” the landing and balance for at least two seconds. Walk back and repeat. Switch legs. Try and increase distance as the skill improves.

Level 2 - Making it Fit and Safe

It is important that the athlete demonstrates a good, solid landing position before progressing to the next level.

Level 3 - Soccer Lifetime Tips

Gaining a good solid landing position is a basic developmental characteristic of ability to control one's own body weight which will serve the individual through life.

Level 4 - The Next Level (provided by Josh Katz)

Once solid landing is achieve the athlete can start progression.

  • Continuous Load: Next, load up again, push off, land, but continue on immediately 3 more bounds on the same leg. On the last bound, stick and hold. Walk back, repeat, and switch legs. Try and increase distance over time.
  • Continuous Load and Switch: Repeat the above procedure, but after 3 “bound,” immediately switch legs and repeat 3 “bounds” the other way and stick the landing.
  • Ice Skaters: From a standing position load up, push off at a 45 degree angle, stick on one leg and repeat the other way holding each stick 2 seconds. Create more distance each foot strike. To improve lateral strength. Repeat the above procedure and add one to three sets of 10 repetition single leg squats. Start with body weight only and work up to using a weighted vest. This is preferable instead of a hand held dumbbell which can impede arm swing.
  • Single Leg Squat
    • Stand on one leg with the opposite (non-supported) leg forward for balance.
    • Squat on the supported leg proportionally bending the ankle, knee and hip. Keep weight distributed over the whole foot.
    • Squat until the thigh just breaks parallel. Hold and return to starting position.

Common Errors

  • Failure to proportionally bend all three joints.
  • Weight forward on the ball of the foot rather than distributed evenly.
  • Failure to bend at the waist. There you have a few ideas for keeping your athletes true to the core!

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Performance Conditioning Soccer

Ken Kontor is founder and president of Performance Conditioning Inc. His company is the world’s largest single source of sports-specific conditioning information. Among the educational resources provided are Performance Conditioning Volleyball, Cycling and Soccer newsletters now in their 14th year of publishing and 15 sports-specific conditioning books and training card systems. He is a founding member of the USA Volleyball Sports Medicine and Performance Commission and was instrumental in the establishment of the Volleyball Conditioning Accreditation Program (V.C.A.P.) curriculum offered through the USA Volleyball Coaching Accreditation program. Among his contributions to this program was writing the curriculum. He has established the Off-bike Conditioning curriculum promoted by USA Cycling. In the past he has worked with USA Roller Sports and USA Triathlon producing conditioning specific newsletters. Prior to the establishment of Performance Conditioning Inc., Mr. Kontor was a founding father, executive director and publications editor of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) for 14 years an organization of over 16,000 sport conditioning professionals. He was an original member of the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist committee that established the internationally recognized C.S.C.S. credential. He has traveled extensively throughout the world including the former Soviet Union, East Germany and the Leipzig Institute of Sport, Hungary and Bulgaria with the purpose of introducing their strength and conditioning methods to the NSCA membership. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association Inc. and the National Strength and Conditioning Association of Japan. He has lectured extensively on the conditioning of athletes throughout the world.