Exercises to help soccer players enhance their skills

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Soccer players are amazing athletes possessing exceptional speed, agility and kicking, jumping and throwing power. The following drills will enhance performance in all components of the game.

Wood chop squats: This exercise is great to develop power for ball throws. Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your feet turned out slightly. Hold a medicine ball in front of your body with arms straight to the ground. Set your posture by contracting your abdominals, pressing your chest out and up and your shoulders back and down. Start by squatting up while lifting the ball up and backward over your head. Now quickly squat down moving your arms in the same fashion as you would if chopping wood. Continue for 30-90 seconds.

Line drill: As a soccer athlete, you need an advanced level of agility. Try this drill to develop your ability to change directions quickly. Position two cones about 20 feet apart. Start by sprinting to the first cone. Then sprint backward to your starting point. Then shuffle sideways to the first cone and back. Then carioca to the first cone and back (feet move laterally while swiveling hips and feet moving forward and backward). Continue for 1-2 minutes.

Medicine ball partner sit-ups: You and a partner lie on your backs feet to feet with about a foot distance between each other with one of you holding a medicine ball. Have your knees extended as far as you can while still keeping your lower backs in contact with the floor. Both of you slowly crunch up, lifting one vertebra at a time off the floor. At about 30 degrees up, you’ll reach a “sticking point” where you’ll feel like you’ve hit a brick wall. At this point, it’s important to be patient and muscle through, using your abdominals to overcome the resistance. Don’t bounce or add momentum with your upper body and don’t lift your feet off the floor. Once you’ve almost reached a fully upright, seated position, throw the ball to your partner who will catch the ball while maintaining perfect, stable posture. Now both of you lower down to the starting position. Curl back up, and now you catch the ball. Continue for 30-90 seconds. You can purchase medicine balls at your local department store such as Target or Sports Authority.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc., is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She can be reached at www.nwPersonalTraining.com or www.ShapeupwithSherri.com.