Let’s Stop and Think


If you go to a surgeon, what do they usually recommend? Of course, surgery. Go to a strength coach in person or online, what will they recommend? Of course a strength exercise. So for a minute lets stop and think. You are soccer coach now, someone who played the game and you are looking for advice on what to do for strength training, what do you do? Of course, you go online and look-up “stuff” on the various strength coaching websites.

I have not made this up; I learned this in an interesting phone call from a young soccer coach at a DI school who is really trying to do the right thing. Here is what the strength coaching gurus on one of these sites recommended for soccer players: Front squats and dead lifts. After I dropped my phone at those suggestions, I gathered myself and asked him why they had recommended those exercises? A brief moment of silence and the answer, the front squats to work the quads and dead lifts as an exercise that involves large muscle mass. I took a very deep breath, reached for my blood pressure medication and proceeded to answer. I guess the logic for selection of those exercises would be fine if you were a personal trainer, but what do they have to do with soccer? I encouraged him to take a close look at what he was trying to accomplish. Of course everything is driven by the demands of the game. Soccer is a skill dominant, transition game sport, with high speed endurance demands. It is a contact sport. It is also a sport with high incidence of groin and hamstring injuries. I asked him to consider single leg squats, lunges in multiple planes and step-ups both on a high and low box. Of course these need to be distributed throughout the weekly training cycle based on the position, minutes played and the number of matches in a week. My logic is that there more closely reflect the strength demands of the game and serve as an injury prevention function to help with the force reduction component of high speed stops.I came away from the conversation encouraged that maybe I had helped guide someone back toward the functional path. At the same time I was discoursed that people keep getting unsound advice and most never question it. Remember- “Work your fingers to the bone. What do you get? Boney fingers.”

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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