Soccer requires us to perform incredible amounts of running, jumping, change of direction, acceleration and deceleration – in other words it is one of the most demanding sports on the body. And, the anterior chain, or front of the body, bears the majority of the stress compared to the backside of the body.
Want proof? Take a look at my quads.
Joking aside – it is vital that female players’ have a strong posterior chain to create balance between the frontside and backside of the body. This balance will not only help lead to improved performance on the field but can also play a major role in helping reduce the likelihood of injury.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the anterior chain be neglected entirely in a training program. In fact, most female players will improve with becoming stronger in general, but there should be a premium placed on strengthening the posterior chain. Especially when it comes to training the players who are novices in the weight room.
I find that “pushing” exercises like squatting and push-ups are much easier for the majority of our female soccer players to perform than “pulling” exercises such as deadlifts and rowing variations.
Therefore I counterbalance these strength imbalances by targeting 3 main areas.
You might be wondering why the upper back – we play soccer on our legs? Bottom line is that having a strong upper body is essential for three reasons: to help improve running form and speed, to be able to hold off opponents, and to allow for maximal leg strength and power to be obtained.
The inverted row and farmer carries are my “go-to’s” for upper back strength. Some might argue that the farmer carry is more of a core exercise, but in my opinion it’s the best bang for your buck in when it comes to building a strong upper back, core which ultimately creates better posture.
The glutes are the powerhouse of our body. Want to jump higher, sprint faster, then you need a strong, powerful set of glutes.
I start every athlete with the KB Deadlift to ensure that they can hinge properly and then once that’s mastered we progress to the Trap Bar Deadlift.
KB Deadlift/Trap Bar Deadlift
However, once I’ve been working with an athlete for awhile I move to the Rack Pull to target the backside even more.
As most of us are aware, there is an increase in ACL injuries among female soccer players. While this increase is directly correlated to the fact that more female athletes are playing soccer than ever before it also has to do with the fact that females tend to have weak hamstrings. And, when you have weak hamstrings in relation to strong quads it increases the risk of injury at the knee joint.
These two exercises are challenging but offer the most bang for your buck when it comes to “bringing up” strength in the hamstrings. The single-leg RDL is my favorite as it not only targets the hamstrings, but it also challenges single leg stability.