As soccer players, we work on ball skills over and over and over again. And I think that's great! You need to have a good first touch when a teammate passes you the ball or when you take the ball out of the air. I want you to work on that! It is obviously an important part of the game.
But what about the rest of the game? What happens when you are running for a 50/50 ball? What happens when you are trying to shield an opposing player from the ball when running down the sideline? What happens when you don't have the ball and you are trying to get it on defense? How many of you have been bounced off by another player because you are either off balanced or not strong enough? If you are saying that this never happened to you, then you are just flat out lying. It has happened to everyone!
So what is the correct way to strengthen?
There are many ways to train and really none of them are wrong. But you should be doing all of them together. Is weight training good? Yes! Is plyometric training good? Yes! Is agility and endurance training good? Yes! But if you only do one or two, you are not training properly. In addition to this, if you are not training in a game type scenario from time to time, you will have a hard time too.
So what the hell do I do?
You have to do it all! To be the best, you have to train like the best. You can't just go to team practice. You need to strength train, you need agility work, you need endurance work, and yes, you need time on the ball and footwork drills.
If you only do some of the training, you have an incomplete package. Say, you go to the weight room 3 times per week. Well, I can squat X pounds and do more lunges with more reps and more weight. Great! That is part of it. But what happens when you are running in a game for that 50/50 ball now? What you did in that weight room was laying down the ground work but you kept putting your feet in the same position. In a game, you have to adjust your body mechanics depending on all the variables that are happening around you.
So yes, I want you to perform strength training. But you also have to train for endurance and you have to train for all the obstacles that you may face in a game. This includes agility training and much more. We have to find a balance (yes, pun intended) between all the different kinds of training. You can have the fanciest ball skills but if you don't have the other components of the game, you are no longer the best on the field.
This is why more injuries happen on the field than there should be. Players not training the appropriate way. They are missing one or two of the components or just not doing them correctly. This leads to ACL tears, quad strains, hamstring strains, achilles tendonitis and much more.
We can prevent a lot of these injuries and keep players on the field playing at a higher level! Make sure to incorporate all different kinds of training into your routines each week. Yes, you need stability training, strength and conditioning, agility work, ball skills and of course endurance training to help prevent you from sustaining a season-ending injury and make you the best you can be on the field!
Always remember to Strike through the Competition!