I am the director and founder of Football Fitness Federation. We connect the worlds sport scientists and strength & conditioning coaches through our Podcast, Online Platform & Networking Events. I have experience working with professional soccer players as well as academy soccer players in the UK.
Split Squats, Lunge variations are great exercises for strengthening the hips and glutes. Check out a post with one of my favorite exercises on Instagram below. Transcript: "What are the best exercises for strengthening the hips and glutes? I've got to say that I'd always lean towards single-leg unilateral exercises for players. Things like Split Squats, Lunge variations I love because you get in there flexibility benefit, as well as the strength benefit. Also, you can work in different planes, which is obviously something that players will be doing within a game. And it will also show any sort of asymmetries. You'll find a lot of players will be stronger, more stable on one side. So you're able to work both with that unilateral exercise. What I'm going to do on this one as well, because there's so many variations out there that you can use, I'll post a link to an Instagram post that we put on recently of one of my favorites. So check it out below."
Soccer has changed dramatically over the last decade, with an increased speed of play that puts more physical demands on players and highlights the importance of strength and conditioning. Transcript: "Where has the game of soccer changed most dramatically over the last decade? I think the pattern that has changed the most is the speed of the game, which in turn has altered the speed of the players. Players have had to get faster, more powerful because of the speed of the game increasing. I also think this is going to increase again over the next few years. We're going to see more football actions throughout a game, and that's going to be increased dramatically, which is going to put even more physical demands on the players, which increases the demand on the players' bodies and also underlines the importance of a player's strength and their conditioning so they are ready to deal with the demands of the game. I can only see it getting quicker over the next few years. We'll see what happens."
The biggest challenge for professional soccer players in the UK is managing recovery in between fixtures. This can be managed through using various recovery modalities, equipment, and protocols. Additionally, getting quality sleep on a consistent basis is key in order to optimize recovery. Transcript: "What are the biggest challenges for professional soccer players in the UK? I'd say with this one it's probably the amount of fixtures that players face. So off the back of that the biggest challenge is recovery for players. Being recovered well enough for the next game. I think it's safe to say that players aren't going to recover to 100% especially for a really busy season but you're trying to get as close to that as possible. They're going to deal with injuries throughout the season as well. So managing those injuries throughout the year is going to be really important. But if we go back to the recovery aspect, there's obviously a lot of different recovery modalities that you can use and techniques and protocols. Some great bits of equipment and kit that are available. Players will have probably their own approaches in terms of recovery as well. Anyone that's not heard of HITRO and seen the work that they're doing around blood flow restriction check those guys out. They're doing some really good work in recovery. I think the free one that we could all utilise better is sleep. Just very quickly the research points towards consistency with sleep. Consistency in terms of bedtimes and wake times. So I know night games can impact it but what the research says is if you get to bed late, try and get up at the same time and utilise naps and sleep throughout the day. So yeah, I'd say sleep is the biggest way of coming and conquering that challenge of fixtured congestion."
A trend in player development that could change the way soccer is played in the future is called "by banding". This involves grouping players by their maturity level and growth instead of chronological age, which allows them to move between age groups. Transcript: "Yn y ffyrdd, a oes unrhyw ddewis newydd yng nghenllaw ddatblygu plaid a allai newid y ffordd y mae chwarae ffyrdd yn y dyfodol? Dwi ddim yn credu ei fod yn dewis newydd, ac dwi ddim eisoes yn credu ei fod yn dewis. Rwy'n credu ei fod yn rhywbeth y mae llawer o glwb yn ei gynhyrchu, ac mae hynny'n biobandio. Felly pan mae plaid yn dod drwy'r system academia, ychydig o'r amser, maen nhw'n grwpio yn eu tîm, yn dybynnu ar eu hwyloedd, eu hwyloedd cronologol, ac mae biobandio yn newid ymdrech ymdrech y mae plaid yn cael eu grwpio gan eu lefelau gwleidyddol, eu cynyddu. Felly mae'n golygu eu bod yn mynd rhwng grwpiau oed. Ac rwy'n gwybod bod llawer o glwb yn y DU yn eu defnyddio, neu yn sicr mae yna ddau o glwb sy'n dechrau eu defnyddio. Mae torfiadau yn cael eu cymryd gan biobandio torfiadau, felly gallai hynny fod yn rhywbeth sy'n mynd i'w gynrychioli yn y dyfodol."
Strength and conditioning should take up the majority of football training. It will be determined by the available time and context of the team or individual. Transcript: "How much time should strength and conditioning take up in overall football training? I think this comes down to a number of different factors, but we have to consider that we've got to start with the game in mind. So that is what we're training for, that should take up the majority of the time that we're actually preparing. Then we work back and think about how much time we've got available. So whether it's a full-time team, a part-time team, what time is actually available? And then work back to what can we work on? So are there limited time before and after training where we could maybe add some strength working, some speed working to warm-ups? Or do we have more time available? Have we got time for full sessions where we could put a full speed session in or something like that? So I think there's a lot of context to this question, but hopefully that helps."
To reduce the chances of injuries, focus on getting strong, particularly in areas where players are weak and suffer. Keep up a consistent mobility routine with exercises to work on areas of restriction. Focus on strengthening hamstrings and hips. Transcript: "What tips do you have for soccer players to stay injury free? Injuries, unfortunately, are part of the game to a point, but to reduce the chances of this as much as possible, I'd say a couple of things we can work on. Getting as strong as possible, increasing strength, especially in certain areas that players tend to be weak and suffer the most injuries. Hamstrings jump out as one of the key ones, and then working on mobility. Keeping up mobility throughout a season. You're going to be stiff, you're going to be sore throughout points of the season, but keeping consistency with a mobility routine and some exercise that you can lean towards that work on maybe areas that you face restriction in. A lot of players will suffer around the hips, again with the hamstrings, so there's a couple of areas to work on. For more information, visit www.FEMA.gov"