Jonathan Walker provides some advice on the importance of strength training in football.
Footballers take a lot of stick for falling over every time they contact another player, but football is one of the most physically demanding sports you can play. Injuries are common and easily sustained, so good fitness, and strength training are vital for professionals and amateurs.
Footballers need both power and speed to perfect their game, which requires a mix of strength and core training and plenty of cardio to develop speed and stamina – football games last upwards of 90 minutes, one of the most extended match times in sport.
Good footballers pay as much attention to their strength training as they do to their cardio regime so that they can get the ball to the other end of the pitch in one kick, if necessary. The core strength is as vital as leg strength in terms of staying balanced while drawing back the leg and then being able to run on again afterwards. Players also have to make contact with the ball while running, and it takes a lot of strength to deliver a powerful kick while travelling at speed.
The Football Association (FA) has released a six-week training program for footballers, showing how demanding football training is. Week one seems easy enough, with short jogs and stretches, but don't be fooled. It is to ease the body into exercise without causing an injury (you cannot run a marathon on your first day of training). Week two incorporates squats, lunges, more stretching and running, including pitch laps, and the ever-dreaded press up. Week three is the natural killer, incorporating sprints to build up speed – as a footballer, you want to be the first one to the ball. Weeks five and six ease it down a little, working on conditioning and toning the body.
Strength training, which includes press-ups, lunges, pull-ups, and squats, can prevent injury. It has been suggested that neck strength can determine the severity of a concussion – an article explored whether neck strength could reduce the impact of concussion on female soccer players and found that those with stronger necks were less likely to sustain a brain injury in the event of a concussion.
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About the Author
Jonathan Walker is currently studying Sport and Exercise Sciences at Leeds University. He enjoys playing football and rugby in his spare time, alongside freelance writing, specialising in various contact and non-contact sports and injury recovery.