Building Your Core
Your core muscles (abs and lower back) present the foundation for building strength in the rest of your body. A strong core improves strength throughout your body, improves your balance and helps you fend off injury throughout the season.
It’s important for soccer players to have a strong and flexible core in order to fight off defenders while protecting the ball, as well as execute quick turns and fast bursts of speed all while maintaining a strong center of balance. Here are a few core exercises to perform before any of your off- or in-season workout routines. Each workout includes a link to a video demonstration:
This is a great hip-extension exercise. Lying flat on your back with your heels on top of a soccer ball, raise your hips off the ground and repeat 15 times. For an added challenge, place the balls of your feet on top of the ball and raise your hips, then roll your feet back to the starting position. The most important thing to remember during this exercise is holding the hip-up position for three seconds.
In the video linked above they use resistance on both your upper body and ankles. You can gain similar benefits without the ankle resistance, as many won’t have access to two-pulley systems. Fully extend your body with your legs straight and arms holding a rope attached to a pulley system behind your head. Initiate your core as you crunch up against the weight. The goal here is to have your elbows meet your knees above your waist.
Using a dip machine, position yourself so your back is firm against the back pad and your elbows are supported by the side arm pads. Release your feet from the bottom support and slowly raise your knees to your chest. You can also perform leg raises by keeping your legs straight and raising them as high as you can. For added difficulty try hanging leg raises – seen here.
Also known as Russian twists, this exercise is great for your side abs and lower back. In a seated position place your legs out in front of you with a slight bend in the knee. Holding a soccer ball, medicine ball or weight, move your body from side to side touching the object you’re holding to the floor while keeping your legs above the floor.
Planks are one of the best ways to engage your core muscles. The most common plank has athletes place their elbows beneath their shoulders on the floor with their feet fully extended. The above video provides several variations to the traditional plank exercise – remember it’s always good to keep the body guessing.
All of these exercises will help you build core strength and improve your center of balance. Make sure to check back with the Semper Soccer Blog next week for more fitness tips to incorporate into your training routine.