- Strength and conditioning needs to be implemented when they are young. Be patient. The strength training and nutrition counseling has to start early. For example, one of my top German students Daniel Knebel, using my methodology, did it with Oliver Husing who I coached from U17 and who has signed a pro contract with Werder Bremen this season. He also help Biran Behrend go from HSV U17 to Rapid Wien Austrian First League. He also prepared Raul Albiol from Real Madrid for the 2012 EM and improved his market value by 5 Million Euro when he was sold to Neapel.
- Muscle mass helps with acceleration. Soccer games are won by controlling the ball. Who gets to the ball first wins. The Germans were the biggest team, thus could get the ball the fastest. Duh! This is mainly the case, because the Germans tend to be large but show a lack of muscle mass. Hummels and Boateng are amongst the biggest inside defenders in the World Cup. They are now the best, and world champions. They could be even better if they would have even more muscle mass and more strength. The best way to get anyone to accelerate is to develop absolute strength and functional hypertrophy, not running with parachutes. To quote Olympic Bronze medalist Carmelina Moscato “there are typically three components to a well-rounded team’s strategy and tactics; Control, Power and Precision. Having muscle mass helps primarily with Power and Precision, secondarily/consequently with Control. Power is the ability to impose yourself on the opponent, keep them as far away from your goal as possible and win your individual and collective battles in the air and on the ground. Muscle mass, explosiveness and a battling mentality will help in defensive strategies such as pressing the other team to cough up the ball. Hard tackles always set the tone for a game and allow players to regain the ball and muscle mass will, yes, allow to keep it. However muscle mass will only help you shield the ball, vision and awareness, quickness and agility will be the primary reason a team “keeps it”. Precision comes into play for a team with counter attacking strategies. These are the teams that are set up to reach the opponent’s goal in 3 passes or less immediately upon regaining the ball. Muscle mass which helps with explosiveness will help players arrive first to the ball and either defensively or offensively.
- Nutrition is still abysmal. One of the top performing Formula 1 racing has banned gluten from the diet of their drivers since 1992. Why? It slows reflexes amongst other things. Not convinced? Read Dr. Kelly Brogan’s piece on how gluten affects the brain and the body. The key to winning is controlling what you can. Nutrition is, besides Strength and Conditioning, one of the most important factors that you should control and optimize. One of the best Swedish pro players was recently telling me that he had to fight the staff of a premiership team for having the right not to eat pasta. He had to show them blood work demonstrating elevated inflammatory markers.
- Soccer is a sport of intangibles, however. Many factors (drive, coaching, talent selection, pride, etc) contribute to human performance, one heart as demonstrated by the Costa Ricans. However, when your physio twists his ankle from the landing of a jump for celebrating a goal, there is something wrong with the picture. The question is not: What may we gain from proper strength and conditioning/nutrition? But more what are you losing out on from not applying the best methodology? Getting a winning edge does not make you a bad person.
Written by: Charles R. Poliquin