In any type of strength training for soccer players, building a solid foundation from the ground up is imperative. Exercises that have a player sitting on a seat and extending their leg or lying on their stomach and curling their hamstrings are with out both functional and preventative value.
Unfortunately there are still misinformed coaches giving the wrong information about soccer fitness and building leg strength. In particular the leg extension exercise is given to improve kicking strength.
Here are three reasons why leg extensions and hamstring curls are poor choices for building leg strength.
1) The game of soccer is mostly played on one leg while either foot is in contact with the ground. Neither the leg extension or hamstring exercise provides this opportunity. When in a game does a soccer player lie on the ground and bring his/ her buttocks to the ground or sit on the turf and straighten his /her leg? These exercises isolate either the quadriceps muscle group or the hamstring muscle group and places unwanted tension at the hip.
2) Sitting or lying on either of these machines minimizes avoids the integration of the deep abdominal core muscles as well as the buttock muscles. As you know a strong “core” and strong buttocks leads to strength and power in the lower body.
3) The ligaments that support the knee either get stressed inappropriately (too much stress on the ACL) or not at all. Remember these exercises were designed for body builders to isolate these muscles. These guys and girls do a lot of posing and do not have to stop, start and change direction.
Here are three exercises to build leg strength to run faster and kick harder:
1) Any form of the single leg squat. This exercise may be done several different ways. You may squat with the air borne leg either in front or behind you.
2) Moving kicking action with resistance. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place a band above or below the knee of the kicking leg. Make sure the band is anchored behind you. Now take one step forward with the plant leg then follow through with the in a kicking motion with the other leg. This exercise stresses both the kicking leg for resistance and the plant leg for single leg strength and balance.
This type of exercise closely relates to the kicking action in a soccer game.
3) Stability Ball Curl. Lie on your back and place your heels on the stability ball. Raise your hip in the air then curl the ball towards you and away from you. Keep your buttocks tight. This combines the stomach core muscles and the buttocks muscles along with your hamstring muscles.
Keep in mind a couple of things about these exercises;
A) They include the both the abdominal and buttock muscles.
B) The actions closely relate to the movements in a soccer game.
C) They protect the knee joint.
So there you have it. Be well informed before you start building leg strength for your soccer fitness.