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A short word from the editor

Hope you enjoy our latest column at SerieAWeekly on fitness and training. Each week you’ll find a new piece from experts in their field on proper athletic health and conditioning, something all us couch potatoes could profit from.


guest writer Derek Salvador (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist)

Soccer is a sport that is explosive and multi-directional in nature. In today’s modern game, players are required to be in peak physical condition. The demands of the sport require that an athlete focus on the secondary fitness characteristics. These include explosive strength (power), speed, agility, quickness, reactivity, coordination, balance and visual awareness. This will provide the athlete with a skill set that will allow them to accelerate faster, change direction efficiently, stop quicker, read and react more readily and become more skillful on the ball. In order to prepare properly, an athlete must choose the right conditioning program that will allow them to reach a higher level of fitness but more importantly, become more durable and stay injury free.

Understanding the demands of the sport can provide players with the ability to elevate their game. Through proper assessment, careful program design and clear instruction, we can eliminate weaknesses by improving movement patterns, increasing athletic skill and boosting confidence.

Coaches and players should place emphasis on proper form and execution of exercise. Exercise should not be done for the sake of doing exercise. Advanced exercise methods should not be performed until basic movements have been learned and perfected. Form and technique cannot be stressed enough.

As is with life, athletes will look towards the path of least resistance, meaning that in order to complete an exercise or perform a more advanced exercise; an athlete will find a way to compensate in order to complete the movement. Compensating can lead to dysfunctional movement patterns which cause some muscles to work more often than others. This will lead to a plateau in performance and breakdown in the body, possibly resulting in serious injury.

As a CSCS, my number one priority is keeping my athletes injury free while maintaining a high level of performance. In this business, many are too concerned with teaching athletes how to speed up, yet spend no time teaching them how to slow down. Speed in sports does not come from being able to run fast in a straight line.

As players read and react to the play, they need to be able to accelerate fast, stop and change directions quickly and transition movement more efficiently, remember we are talking multi-directional.

Exercise programs should be designed with this in mind. Gone are the days where soccer players prepared in the off season simply by running laps, performing countless sit-ups and doing leg extensions. Today’s exercises programs should incorporate some of the following elements:

  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Speed, agility quickness, and reactivity
  • Multi-joint strength
  • Core stability and rotary power
  • Movement Skill and mechanics (focus on deceleration)
  • Energy system demands (aerobic vs. anaerobic)

Once athletes have learned the elements of athleticism, they will be able to take those skills and apply them to their sport so they can learn their sport specific skills at a higher level. Soccer is not only a sport that is won on the field, but also won by the work that is done off the field. I read something once that summed it all up: “hard work will always beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard enough!”

Stay tuned for future articles and videos where we will go more in depth on topics relating to strength and conditioning for soccer.

Derek Salvador is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has completed multiple courses in the field of athletic movement and human performance. Derek’s experience includes training various sports teams as well as athletes of all ages and abilities. Derek currently works as a Strength Coach at Twist Sports Conditioning located in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.

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