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Training for acceleration is vital in helping a player to become faster, but improvement in acceleration may not transfer into improved performance on the field. If the athlete is unable to decelerate from those faster speeds in a timely and controlled manner, it can lead to ineffectiveness on the field or, worse, an injury.

An athlete’s ability to decelerate is a skill that can be trained, and needs to be included in a well rounded strength and conditioning program. In our last article, we spoke about eccentric strength and the importance of deceleration for performance and injury prevention. Eccentric strengthening exercises help to build strength in our lower body and help to prepare us for the increase in velocity and momentum when suddenly stopping, cutting and changing direction, but this is only one element.

In this next segment, we will shift our attention to dynamic balance. When my athletes struggle with balance they tell me it’s because they are not good at it. So I ask them, “do you practice balance exercises”? More often than not the answer is “no”. The majority of players are concerned with speed and strength, but will neglect balance exercises because they feel they are too hard or not important.

Dynamic balance is a necessity in soccer. In order to perform well on the field, an athlete must be well balanced when transitioning from one movement to another before, during and after a play. Dynamic balance can be defined as the ability of the athlete to maintain a stable centre of gravity while the athlete is in motion. The ability to maintain balance in a stimulated environment (which occurs on the field) allows the athlete to use proper muscle sequencing in order to produce good movement patterns. Athletes need to learn to maintain control of their bodies within and outside their base of support. Improved control can better prepare the body for unanticipated movements which are vital in the prevention of injuries. By stimulating sensory and motor pathways, improvement in balance will contribute to better strength, movement and skill.

Below are examples of balance exercises that can be incorporated into your workouts. They can be done as part of a dynamic warm up, movement prep for a speed and/or strength workout or simply done on their own. It is important to remember that just like any strengthening exercise, once a balance exercise becomes easy, there are variables that can be manipulated in order to make it more challenging.

Good Luck!


1. Single Leg Heel Raise

Stand on your left leg and push up onto your toes. Perform movement slowly, maintaining balance and control throughout the exercise. You can progress this exercise by closing your eyes.

Perform 2 x 10 per leg.

2. Single Leg Toe Touch

Begin exercise by standing on your right leg with your left knee and hand raised. Reach down with your left hand and touch your right toe. Return to the starting position. Maintain control throughout exercise.

Perform 2 x 10 per leg

3. Single Leg Body Twist

Standing on your right leg with ball in hand and arms extended. Rotate your body to the right, then rotate fully to the left. Maintain eye contact with the ball. Be sure to rotate your body and not your arms. Maintain balance and control throughout the exercise.

Perform 2 x 10 per leg

Derek Salvador

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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