A skilled football (soccer) player can ignore their sub-optimal physical development and believe that what they are doing is adequate when they could be even better more competitive players than they currently are if they had better physical conditioning.
Many soccer (football) players hate doing any physical training that does not involve the ball, or considered to be a “soccer-specific” exercise like as agility ladders, mini hurdles, or agility pole drills. Looking at training in this way can cost an athlete greatly in the form of injuries and sub optimal performance on the pitch.
Skill and tactical understanding will always be the core attributes of the Beautiful Game, but to be able to execute the skills under the demands of the modern game, strength and athleticism is becoming more and more important to allow soccer players to reach their potential.
Strength builds speed in Soccer
Many soccer coaches and athletes at the grass roots level have not realized that the stronger the muscles are, the more force they can produce in a given movement to be able to accelerate faster and jump higher. improving your leg strength is necessary to improve your ability to move your bodyweight around with ease and speed.
A scientific study on players from Rosenborg FC, maximal strength in the squat exercise had a significant correlation with speed in distances measured up to 30 meters, and vertical jump ability (Ronnestad, 2008; Wisloff, 2004).
So how can Powerlifting help with building this strength for speed and athleticism on the football (soccer) pitch compared to other methods like Bodybuilding ? Powerlifting training is focussed on building maximal strength and power for a given bodyweight rather than attempting to build maximal muscle size. Powerlifting is functional while bodybuilding is not. The size of the legs may vary between individual due to genetics but the legs, especially the glutes and quadriceps are always strong relative to the body type of a fast athletic soccer player.
Building Strength to prevent soccer injuries
Another aspect of football which can be helped by training the power lifts is injury prevention. Many of the injuries I see every week as a sports trainer at the local Gympie football (soccer) fields could be prevented or reduced in severity if the players had stronger more balanced muscles.
Take for example, knee pain is common in soccer players, it is also common to notice those same players will have weak, tight hamstrings and weak glutes. When weak hamstrings are paired with strong quadriceps you get knee pain and a higher rate of knee injury. A powerlifting squat will build strength in the glutes which take some of the strain away from the hamstrings and a conventional powerlifting deadlift will build hamstring strength which will help stabilise the knee that has been put under extra strain from the existing muscle imbalance.
What about upper body strength for Soccer
A strong upper body will not make up a lack of skill in using your body with proper positioning, timing and awareness, but if you have both skill and upper body strength you are giving yourself a big advantage. In soccer (football), you need upper body strength to improve running speed, to ward off opponents, and to allow for maximal leg strength and power to be obtained, It also helps to develop power for a great throw in distance.
The powerlifting bench press training builds a strong upper body in conjunction with deadlift (remember we need to maintain muscle balance to avoid injury) without becoming “top heavy” like a bodybuilder, as a player you want to be strong and powerful not big and bloated.