The football season may not start until August, but this is the most important time of year for all footballers to prepare themselves physically for the long season ahead. The work performed during preseason can make or break the success of the upcoming campaign. The physical requirements at all levels of the game has risen to lofty heights over the past ten years, thus the need of strength and conditioning has increased in order to enhance performance on the pitch as well as preventing injury
Functional competence is the foundation of the performance pyramid, without a high level of functional competence you will be more likely to get injured and unable to fully develop your physical qualities. Functional competence is defined as the mobility, balance and stability around the joints and muscles within the body. By having muscle imbalances then the likelihood of injury rises drastically, with the effectiveness and efficiency of movement patterns negatively affected. The main generic faults found in footballers are tightness in the hips and groins due to the repetitive kicking action, and weak glutes and core due to the lack of pre hab conditioning work. Focusing on some key mobility exercises for the hips and groins, and strengthening exercises for the glutes and core will help improve your functional competency.
Some example exercises are shown below:
Hip Flexor stretch
2 sets 1-2 minute hold each side
Drop down into a lunge positon with the back knee resting on the floor. Keeping your chest and head tall lean into the stretch.
2 sets 1-2 minute hold
On your knees and elbows turn your feet out and sit back as far as you can, maintain a good posture.
2 sets 12 reps
Lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat, suck your belly button in and push your back flat against the floor. Slowly peel bum off the floor and squeeze glutes at the top then return to start position.
2 sets 12 reps each side
Lying on your back with legs at 90 degrees and arms straight out. Suck your belly button in and push your back flat against the floor. In a controlled motion lower one leg down a tap your heel against the floor maintaining the same back position. Complete all 12 reps with one leg and then switch.
These are generic exercises which will make a difference initially, however you would then need to further individualise the programme to your needs. Undertaking a functional screening in order to pin point your own specific areas of weakness and then devising a programme to improve these is ideal. Once that foundation of functional competency has been built more advanced physical development sessions can be undertaken. These include weight training, speed and movement training, and plyometric training. This will develop your speed, strength and power which has a direct impact on performance, as long as the training you undertake is football specific so you can directly transfer those gains to the field of play.
To get more advice on football specific physical training send Matteo a message or comment below 🙂