Soccer performance demands and development are on the forefront of research these days and within the last year there have been some huge studies. Not every study is done perfectly, but I think when they use large enough sample sizes like they did in the cases below, there is a lot to learn and it would be dumb of me not to use this valuable information to help players and coaches. So, lets get nerdy and dive in to the science.
1. Deadlift training 2x a week was an effective way to improve rapid force production , power output, and vertical jump height in soccer players
"These findings showed that a 10-week barbell deadlift training program was effective at enhancing rapid torque capacities in both the knee extensors and flexors. Changes in rapid torque were associated with improvements in vertical jump height, suggesting a transfer of adaptations from deadlift training to an explosive, performance-based task."
What does all of this mean? As I have mentioned several times, strength is the foundation for power. Yes, even though that super fast skinny kid has never lifted a weight in his life, he is pretty dang strong for his size. If you're not naturally strong and fast, then getting stronger using overload in the form of weight training will be very effective for you. What about body weight training? Body weight training can be extremely effective using exercises likes shrimps and pistols, but both require a lot of mobility and even then you will hit a plateau sooner or later.
As discussed here, just getting stronger has its limitations for top end speed, but for acceleration phases of sprints such as dribbling by someone, being first to a loose ball, changing directions, and jumping, strength relative to body weight is a big factor. The deadlift is a very big bang-for-your-buck exercise meaning it has a lot of factors that make it an effective exercise. It is posterior chain dominant meaning it helps strengthen the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings- muscles that are often weak in soccer players and very much related to running fast and jumping high. Deadlifts also reinforce good posture, and they are hard to cheat. A lot of strength coaches say if they could only pick one exercise, they would pick the deadlift. Personally, I have suffered a back injury doing heavy deadlifts and now I am very careful with them. While effective and fun, I think there are much safer alternatives for the non-powerlifter that include single leg exercises.
"Thompson, BJ, Stock, MS, Shields, JE, Luera, MJ, Munayer, IK, Mota, JA, Carrillo, EC, and Olinghouse, KD. Barbell deadlift training increases the rate of torque development and vertical jump performance in novices. J Strength Cond Res 29(1): 1-10, 2015-
Here is a video on posterior chain exercises for soccer players:
Progressive plyometric training is more effective than non-progressive plyometric training in soccer players. Soccer players often use plyometric aka jump training in order to improve speed and power. Plyometrics teach the body to absorb and produce force rapidly via use of the stretch shortening cycle, teaching muscles to contract rapidly, and by improving coordination.
The purpose of the study was to compare the effects of progressive volume-based overload to constant volume-based overload on muscle explosive and endurance performance adaptations during a bi-weekly short-term (i.e. six weeks) plyometric training intervention in young soccer players. The results showed that progressive plyometric training and plyometric training without progression ensured significant improvement in muscle explosive and endurance performance measures. However, a progressive increase in plyometric training volume seems more advantageous to induce soccer-specific performance improvements.
What does all of that mean?
Find a way to progress your plyometrics with either more repetitions, more sets, or both. Another way to progress plyometics is to increase the height of boxes if you are using them, or to add load in the way of a weighted vest or light dumbbells. Sometimes adding loads is an issue and actually counter productive since you're primary aim is to teach your body to get off of the ground quickly.
Here are some plyometric ideas:
J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Dec 31. [Epub ahead of print]EFFECT OF PROGRESSIVE VOLUME-BASED OVERLOAD DURING PLYOMETRIC TRAINING ON EXPLOSIVE AND ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE IN YOUNG SOCCER PLAYERS.Ramírez-Campillo R1, Henríquez-Olguín C, Burgos C, Andrade D, Zapata D, Martínez C, Álvarez C, Baez EI, Castro-Sepúlveda M, Peñailillo L, Izquierdo M.
So, there you have it. Deadlifts or strength exercises to build strength and plyometric exercises to transfer that strength into power on the field. Plyometrics in a smart progressive way to bridge the gap between weights and on-field speed and power. Two things we promote at The Total Soccer Player and provide in an organized program in Soccer Strong.