Soccer Conditioning 101 - The Soccer Performance Paradigm: Force Production-Stabilization-Force Reduction

The following is an excerpt from Volume 3 of Best of Amplified Soccer Training. This issue contains some of the best drills and resources for soccer coaches from our friends and partners including Jeff Tipping, Dan Abrahams, Soccer Awareness and more! Get It Now

A comprehensive conditioning program for most soccer should address all three aspects of the performance paradigm. Most performance errors and injuries occur during the force reduction phase, the stopping to make a kick, planting to change direction or slowing down after a maximal effort sprint. Basically this occurs because the athlete lacks eccentric strength to stop and lacks the stabilization strength to effectively reduce force at the various joints without compromising joint stability. Therefore, stabilization strength is the key to injury prevention as well as rehabilitation. Perhaps because this is so obvious and simple it is often overlooked.

Stabilization strength is the glue that holds the whole program together. It is relatively easy to work on once you become comfortable with the concept and its application. Just as you may use as many joints as possible to produce force, then you must use as many joints as possible to reduce force. Consequently an exercise like the single leg squat (see how-to with this article) serves a dual purpose. It builds strength over the ankle, knee and hip. To enhance stabilization strength it is preferable to use exercises that demand multi-joint involvement, take place across more than one plane of motion and tax the proprioceptive mechanism of the body. This effectively eliminate most weight machines as a viable training mode to improve stabilization strength.

The ability to stop effectively under control and change direction is an essential aspect of soccer performance. It must be trained along with starting ability. The moment of truth in soccer is dictated by the ability to change direction and move quickly in many different directions from a variety of stating positions both on and off balance after an abrupt stop to kick, pass or tackle.

How to Stop

To effectively stop and train to stop to the mechanics of stopping must be understood. Mechanically, stopping is the opposite of starting. Starting is the extending the ankle/knee/hip to produce force to overcome inertia and get started. Stopping is bending the ankle/knee/hip to reduce force and allow the muscles that cross those three joints to act as shock absorbers. The stronger those muscles are eccentrically the more effectively the player will be able to stop on a dime.

Another aspect of stopping is high injury risk. Most muscle pulls, ankle sprains and knee injuries occur during deceleration and stopping. This is due to the high forces produced by what is primarily an eccentric muscle action. This phase of movement is often neglected, not only from a performance enhancement perspective but from the aspect of injury prevention. It is also during the stopping phase that most performance errors occur. This is even more pronounced in the female soccer player. This further underscores the importance of working on this component.

Best of Amplified Soccer Training Volume 3 features several exercises that can be performed by the beginning and intermediate level player. Each features a progression that is designed to teach and condition for effective stopping. Get It Now


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.