Phase 1: The Off-Season
Focus: Functional Strength
The off season is the foundation of your overall soccer training routine, and as a result, it is the most important component of your training. It creates the base on which all other strength and power are built. In the off-season, you will prepare your joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons for greater training intensity during other phases of training and improve overall muscular stability.
During the off-season, much of your training should focus on the muscle groups that make up your core. This includes your abs, back and trunk. Having a strong core allows your upper and lower body to work together fluidly.
The off-season is also a prime time to balance out your body and its strength. Every soccer player, like most other athletes, has a dominant side. Since you perform the same skills over and over again (for example, kicking with your dominant foot), your muscles develop unevenly. The off-season is the perfect opportunity to balance overuse and underuse of various muscle groups (for example, quads versus hamstrings).
Phase 2: Off-Season/Early Pre-Season
Focus: Maximal Strength
During this phase, you will be working toward becoming as powerful as possible. To do this, you will be lifting the most weight during this phase to increase your strength as much as possible. It is best to complete the maximal strength phase before your soccer season begins so that the remainder of your strength training phases can focus on power and strength endurance, which are both extremely important during on-field play.
Phase 3: Late Pre-Season
Focus: Muscular Power and Strength Endurance
Now that you have built up your muscles in phases 1 and 2, phase 3 will help your turn all of that strength into soccer-specific power and muscular endurance. This is extremely important for soccer players, as they play one of the few sports that requires equal amounts of muscle endurance and explosive force.
To build soccer-specific power and endurance, your weight training routine will be replaced by plyometrics during this phase. Plyometrics, originally developed in eastern Europe, are specifically-designed jumping and upper body exercises that develop and increase speed, power and agility. Plan on having this phase last about 4-6 weeks.
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