Plyometrics is often referred to as the jumping exercise because of the explosive drills it encourages and it is a great way to build muscle rapidly. For this reason it has become an absolute staple for soccer players at all levels who have their own list of plyometric exercises they use to get their body into the right shape to play.
The short sharp explosive movements can have a particularly high impact on building mass muscle and burning fat which is why it is favoured by a number of soccer players and team fitness coaches in particular.
The ability to build leg muscles is at the very forefront of plyometrics and makes for strong football players who can strike the ball hard. Highly defined quads are particularly important for ball striking.
Build power and strength
A number of plyometric drills are only undertaken for approximately 30 to 60 seconds at a time which illustrates the short, sharp explosive nature of the high intensity workouts. These drills really help to build power and strength and also keep muscle formations really tight and compact in the body which helps to prevent muscle loss but also speeds up the body's ability to burn fat.
Balance your exercise plan
Explosive plyometric workout forms one half of what is needed for soccer players as they also need to be able to run long distances at intense speeds and must undertake cardio work in conjunction with plyometric exercise.... also not forgetting your soccer training drills as well
Don't overdo it
When starting out with plyometric exercise it is important that you take a sensible view as to your capabilities. Due to the intense nature of the exercise it means that it is possible for injury to occur if you overextend yourself so you need to be careful, especially when just starting.
No special equipment needed
One of the particular advantages of plyometric exercise is the fact that you do not need specific equipment or access to an expensive gym in order to workout. It is possible to make use of a number of seemingly everyday items to assist your plyometric workouts. For instance you could use a chair, a bench or even a concrete block for many of the exercises below. Even a flight of steps will enable you to take part in a number of plyometric exercises. This makes it a really accessible workout regime because you can do it pretty much anywhere even when space is quite limited.
If you do have access to additional equipment then very often this is also quite basic and can have a substantial effect on the quality of your plyometric exercise. A weighted vest, a sandbag, resistance bands or even some gentle weights added to your plyometric exercise will make a substantial difference to the quality of your work out. By providing resistance to your explosive movements it is a way of multiplying the effect of your work and further developing strength and power.
These are some of the best plyometric exercises favoured by soccer players:
Grip the bench firmly with both hands and, keeping your feet together, hop from one side of the bench to the other continuously. This is great for building stamina for soccer players.
With your hands in a prayer position step up onto the bench using your inside foot and hop over to the other side leaving your opposite (now inside) foot on the bench. Explode off the floor with your outside foot to generate upward motion. Repeat.
Similar to the above exercise but only working on one side of the bench this time. Again, use your outside foot to touch the floor and power up with your inside foot which is planted on the bench in a repetitive motion. Do the same number of repetitions on both sides. This exercise supports soccer players with building their strength to hold off opponents.
With both feet planted shoulder width apart bend your knees and squat. Build up power and explode forward, jumping onto the bench with both feet landing at the same time. Take a gentle step backwards off the bench and repeat. This builds power in the legs and helps with ball striking.
Again with your hands in the prayer position, get into a squatting pose with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Drop into a full squatting position and bring yourself back up so that your knee joint is at near 90 degrees. Repeat continuously.
This exercise is an extension of the one above but rather than just bring yourself up to the slightly elevated squatting position, this time you explosively jump in the air before landing both feet together and going back into a squatting pose. This exercise really develops the muscles needed for jumping and is useful for players who want to be better at competing for headers.
Again this is a further extension of the exercise above with an explosive jump into the air from a squatting position, but this time rotate in the air around to face in the opposite direction. Repeat back and on the next jump rotate in the opposite direction so that you are jumping an alternate way with each jump.
Again a further extension is to introduce one additional pulse down in the squatting position between each turn of the above exercise. Tough!
This is a classic plyometric exercise. Again with your hands in a prayer position or folded across your chest extend one leg out behind you and flex the knee of your front leg so that it is at a near 90 degree angle. Jump and swap legs. Repeat continuously.
Again an extension of the above exercise but this time on each lunge bring your knee up to your chest on the forward thrust. Repeat and complete an even number of times on each leg. This really helps all round fitness for soccer players.
With your hands on the floor shoulder width apart put your feet together thrust them back and forward. Following the forward motion explode into a jump in the air. Repeat continuously.
Working from side to side drop into an exaggerated curtsy motion with your back leg extended out behind you. Either extend your front leg out to the side to for additional workout or even explode into an air jump in between each motion and repeat. This builds a range of leg muscles and improves all round power.
Plyometric exercise is essential for soccer players who want to get to the top of their ability. Remember that ability only ever counts when everything else is equal.
There are thousands of soccer players who have a plyometric routine to get into the right shape to play and if you develop your own you can make the most of your ability. There's a few more recommended exercises on this site and if you can get past the ads on Mens Fitness they have a few useful exercises to try as well.
We'd love to hear how you use different exercises to develop your game: