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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Soccer Player Status....Why This Area Needs A Good Strength Coach

I know, I know.....A blog about soccer. Don't just exit out of this just yet. My point is not just to educate you on specific demands for the sport, but also to explain WHY I am trying to pursue such athletes to train.

You see, in my junior year in high school.....I was a mere 5'7 and 140lbs. I was tiny. Soccer player status right?

It amazes me how still coaches think that lifting weights would make their athletes muscle bound and less athletic. That myth has since been debunked in every sport. It is now known that strength builds the foundation for all athletic qualities including relative body strength, which is the most important for athletes.

That applies directly to the high school sports continuum.  You see, the stronger will always beat out the weaker....they will be on the field longer than those injured constantly from the fatiguing demands of the sport. The best way to put it is that the strength of your own body-weight is the best advantage in the sport, along with all others. The stronger you are in relation to your own body-weight, the more you outperform your opponents. Plain and simple.

Yet, so many times I see these so called "coaches" unsure of what to do to strengthen their players. They rely on TEACHERS to help their kids lifts weights in gym class with no proper technique or instruction on how to do so efficiency or properly.

Crazy huh?

I see some of my athletes come into my gym and tell me they were power cleaning their max in gym class and got hurt and can't do the workout I give them in that day. Complete crap if you ask me. I never would be more angered as a fitness professional than to hear a story like that.

Nothing more gets the steam coming out of my head when I hear that. How is it possible kids these days are receiving insufficient and uneducated advice on such an important aspect to their athletic development? Blows my mind, but if I were the parent, I would be pretty worried.

It's great that the school gym class teachers want to introduce resistance work into kids lives, but leave it to the professionals......please.

I see so many athletes, parents, clients who all have some sort of imbalance. I may be big on corrective exercise...but prove me why not to be? If I see a soccer player walk through my door with a high degree anterior pelvic tilt, I sure as hell am going to work towards correcting it or he could be dealing with large amounts of compensations down the road that can include the likelihood of a number of lower limb pathologies.

The musculoskeletal causes of anterior pelvic tilt have been outlined below:
  1. Rectus abdominis weakness.
  2. Poor flexibility of the hip flexors (predominately the illiopsoas).
  3. Increased tone and shortened length of the lower back extensors (erector spinae muscles).
  4. Excessive length and weakness of the hip extensors- (hamstrings).
  5. Inhibited, weak gluteal muscles.
And I'm 100% sure the P.E. teacher has no knowledge of this and would be telling this person to do the sit-up test, just re-enforcing this large complication. 

Another great benefit of strength training for the soccer player is injury prevention. I don’t care how good of a soccer player you are. You can’t do much for your team if you’re injured. Athletes who strength train have fewer injuries, and if they are injured, they usually come back more quickly. The reasoning behind this is that strength training strengthens muscle attachments, tendons, and ligaments and increases bone density.  This leads to a quicker recovery and can improve the rate at which you do come back at!

Not only do soccer players need resistance work, but they also need a good amount of injury preventive work. Most susceptible are women and ACL tears(30,000 per year). Working on hip ex-tensor strength, landing mechanics and unilateral stability can all do wonders for reducing the chances of a major injury.

What's even more ridiculous is the programming I do see with some coaches and trainers in soccer players.

Yes, yes, we all hear that term.....SPORT SPECIFIC training.....well hate to burst your bubble but that theory has been traded off for a few years now. SURE, it has it's play in periodization and proper programming, but you cant tell me that a soccer player doesn't need upper body strength.

I'll tell you a little story about my first college game.  I got into it about 15 minutes in.....was so nervous I felt like I could run at 1000m/ph! Just all over the field running, attacking, defending, and within 30 seconds I had the ball at my feet. The next TEN I didn't not remember so well because of how quickly I was LAUNCHED into the air from these massive 6' players who just simply shouldered me off the ball. You would have thought I was catapulted across the field I went so far.

With that said, soccer requires a whole hell of a lot of upper body strength. Now, I'm not saying you throw on 300lbs and bench press everyday. Completely out of line.

But filling in a kid's program with nothing but lunges and crunches would be the biggest mistake you could possibly do AS WELL.

You see, soccer players make maximum usage of both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Thus, training should be used on both ends of the strength spectrum. Meaning,

Absolute Strength----Strength Speed----Speed Strength-----Absolute Speed

So many soccer players are only "practicing their sport" for instance....leaving them all the way in the Absolute Speed category. Now, this is fine, but that athlete will never progress and learn to properly execute higher demands placed involuntarily on his/her muscles as he ages.  This could lead to a devastating or nagging injury.

That is why, here at O.A.F., athletes are taken through all ends of the spectrum, meaning that we could start that soccer player on the absolute strength side and incorporate basic resistance work in linearly or conjugated fashions. We could then take that athlete into more strength speed activities involving explosive over-head med ball throws or rotational throws. Then moving onto speed strength we can work on the pilo swing or work with depth jumps or other explosive power movements.

This overall progression can lead to a well-rounded athlete, who can accept and over-come all the stresses and demands placed on them from their sport.

All I want to do here at O.A.F. is take the basic philosophy that throwing weights on a bench and doing dumbbell curls for a traditional workout and TURN it into a structured program that enables the athlete to best perform at their sport. Sure, I would have bench pressing and squats in their program, but you can't haphazardly throw them into numerous workouts throughout the week without knowing what you are doing.

That is my job as a fitness educate and properly put my clients in the best circumstances to excel and reach their true potential.

Now, it's your turn. Take this message today and spread across the schools in this area! Let's get these athletes into Over-Achieve Fitness and into a properly strutured atmosphere that will enable them to succeed when desiring to play at the next level. It never hurts that their trainer has numerous contacts and was a colligate soccer player himself.

That's all. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and GEAR UP for another week of Shredder! 

Mike Over
Strength & Conditioning Specilist

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