Sep 12, 2018
The Total Soccer Player

Soccer players may use their legs more than anything else, but they still need a strong core and upper body in order to excel in every part of the game. Here is a guide to designing a total-body exercise regimen that any soccer player can benefit from.

Rogue Parrish of describes why soccer players need to develop strength throughout their body, and lists some of the best exercises for making that happen.


The core muscles are the foundation of many athletic movements. In soccer, a strong core will help players have balance and stability when shooting, dribbling, and passing the ball. The core includes the big and small muscles in the abdomen and back that connect the center of the body, which initiate and decelerate motion and affect all your motions as a soccer player. Parrish suggests doing back extensions, the seated medicine ball twist, and the hanging knee raise in order to strengthen this important area of the body.

Upper Body

When soccer players are jostling for possession or going shoulder to shoulder with an opponent, usually the one with the stronger upper body wins out. Having strong arms and shoulders will also help players during throw-ins. Parrish recommends using pushing exercises to develop strength in the front upper torso, and pulling exercises to develop the upper back. Some effective pushing exercises include the bench chest press, pushups, and upper-body step-ups, where your hands walk up to and over a box from the pushup position. You can also make pushups a little more challenging by having players push up on a soccer ball. Pulling exercises should include rows, pull-downs, side raises, and dumbbell curls.


This is the most obvious part of the body that soccer players need to strengthen, not only for the sake of performance but also for the sake of injury prevention. On top of a full load of running, cutting, and jumping, soccer players are also constantly kicking the ball and clashing with other people’s legs, which can quickly add to the wear and tear. Squats and lunges with barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls, or just bodyweight, are a good way to start strengthening the legs. You can also add single-leg exercises to improve both strength and balance at the same time. Some effective single-leg exercises include single-leg squats, with your rear leg supported by a box, as well as single-leg deadlifts, while holding either dumbbells or kettlebells.

Program Design

Being organized with your total-body training is key. Parrish recommends that players keep a training card with their name and a list of the exercises, as well as columns for dates, repetitions, sets, and amount of weight lifted or machine weight settings. This will help them track their progress and prevent them from overusing certain muscle groups. Coaches should also keep in mind that total-body workouts can be very demanding and should not be paired with high-intensity conditioning or weight lifting.

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