With the soccer World Cup going full blown in Brazil, it amazes me how the quality of the game has not reached its full potential because of the poor levels of strength and conditioning worldwide.  If you look at pro sports, soccer is still in the dark ages in terms of optimal strength and conditioning levels.  American soccer and ice hockey are at least 40 years ahead of them in terms of proper training methodology.  The biggest physical quality lacking in soccer is short-term acceleration.  Why is acceleration so poor in soccer?

There are 4 main reasons:

  1. The players have very weak lower backs.  Why?  Acceleration is under par.  Acceleration is set by the speed attained in the first five meters.  Who has the fastest 5 meters times in the World?  Lifters and throwers.  Why?  Because they have a strong lower back.  In my experience with speed skaters, bobsledders, sprinters, and NFL players, short-term speed improvement is a direct function of how much they improved (or Increased) their lower back strength.  The simplest predictor of lower back strength is the snatch deadlift on a podium.  Besides, how many millions of dollars in contracts are wasted in injuries, because soccer players have poor levels of posterior chain strength?  Wayne Rooney’s multiple hamstrings injuries are a classic example of that.  
  1. Their acceleration is limited by the weakness of their upper bodies.  Enhanced upper body strength makes you sprint faster.  The validity to point out that acceleration begins with the upper body.  If you look at the muscular development of todays World Class sprinters, you will recognize this valuable point.  To achieve maximal speed, the torque of the right leg must be countered by the torque of the left upper torso, and vice versa.  I am not saying that they need to look like Conan the Barbarian, however, 2 six – week cycles a year of proper strength training would make a huge difference in acceleration levels.  Point being, one of the ways to increase short-term speed is to increase your chin-ups.
  1. Too much emphasis on aerobic work.  Over the last thirty years, exercise physiologists know of at least six reasons why too much aerobic work limits the expression of power.  There is a huge difference between optimal and maximal when we talk about a physical quality.  Even the power of kicks would improve if there was not so much emphasis on aerobic work.  

Written by: Charles R. Poliquin