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Soccer-Specific Strength and Fitness Training - Wa

An adequate warm up program is an essential part of any stretching and flexibility regime. The best balance of warm-up and stretching an integral part of any soccer specific strength and fitness training program. Injury prevention is a critical consideration and and important reason behind an individualized warm up, stretching, and flexibility program. Prior to initiating a workout program, a routine soccer practice or a match, the soccer athlete must be warmed up and have stretched for a period of between 15 and 30 minutes, not just to bring down the chance of injury, but to improve training results and match performance.

The proper warm-up routine has many important elements. The elements of a properly structured warm-up and stretching regimen must be integrated into a holistic strategy designed to effectively engage all the various muscles of the body in such a manner as to be prepared for maximum performance in advance of the workout, practice or competition. Every muscle and muscle group needs to be working fully and together warmed up to be able to minimize the possibility of injury, regardless of whether it's due to stress, strain or trauma.

Why is warming up so critical to the overall success of a training program?

Proper warm up before training is important for a lots of reasons and is liable for numerous benefits. The properly designed warm-up routine prepares the athlete, mentally and physically, for peak performance and for intense, mental and physical exertion. While generally there are many reasons for this, the most important may be the fact that warm up increases the body's metabolism and core temperature. As a consequence of a general increase in temperature, there's accordingly an increase in the heat of the various muscles involved in training and competition. Increased muscle temperature, and the associated increase in blood flow, allows for muscles which are ready for strenuous activity, being oxygenated, fully fueled, and supple. In addition, the warm-up will also have a good, overall cardiovascular effect, increasing both heart and lung function and allowing for even more complete delivery of oxygen and energy-providing nutrients to the musculature during periods of peak demand. Once more, this has a ripple effect and the connective tissue, therefore at risk during periods of intense activity, to be warmed up and prepared for activity prior to the workout or even competition. The latter is extremely important, extra sports-related injuries are connective tissue based, as in ACL injuries!

How to Develop a Warm-up Program for a Soccer-Related Strength and Fitness Training Program

There are many factors and considerations that come into play when designing a soccer-related strength street soccer park and health and fitness training program. Along with nutrition and diet, warm-up, stretching, and flexibility are vital to the entire success of the system. For that reason, we will spend quite a good deal of time on the best warm-up design and integration in this article.

It's a given, or even should anyway, that it is very important to begin with the simplest and gentlest movements and tasks first. The concept is to relocate from just one motion and movement to the next, an overall build taking place, and just as before a ripple effect leading to a fully engorged and oxygenated musculature just before strenuous activity. The process of simple to difficult, slow to faster motions and activities, each building and compounding upon additional, fully engaging the athlete's body and optimizing performance regardless of the task involved.

The body, if properly engaged and warmed up, will be at its physical and mental peak before the demands and strenuous activity of soccer-related performance, whether for fitness and strength training, practice or match play. With the body at peak readiness, optimally engaged physically and mentally, the likelihood of soccer specific, sports related injuries will have been minimized and the soccer athlete can continue into the training or the competitive area fully prepared. The next step, now that we understand why...is how!

The 4 Aspects of a strong Soccer Specific Strength and Fitness Training Warm-up

The primary stage is a general, overall warm-up program. The second stage is static stretching and differs from the third stage, that of soccer-specific stretching and warm-up. The fourth stage is dynamic stretching, stretching used to engage and involve the entire musculature, synergistically. The four parts are equally crucial to the entire success of the system, one building upon all the other, all equally vital. The components come together, in a lot exactly the same way as muscles do, synergistically, all 4 working in unison to ready the body, mentally and physically; and, also preparing the soccer-athlete for whatever is to come. Once more, this procedure was created to ensure the soccer-athlete has little exposure and consequently risk of sports-related injuries.

Stage One: overall and General Strength and Fitness Training Warm-up

The overall, general warm up consists of gentle, minimally demanding physical activity. I recommend jogging, no faster that a brisk walk, generally for 400 meters or even one quarter of a mile. We then jump on the stationary bike, increasing the intensity and duration from a low tension setting along with a duration 2 minutes, to an impressive of medium range tension for as much as 20 minutes; and, in winter we start off with the stationary bike. The degree of difficulty and the length of your time on the bike is usually determined during testing and is influenced by the soccer-athlete's general level of fitness. A great indicator that the athlete is starting to warm-up is a reasonable sweat and perhaps an elevated heart rate and respiration. The heart rate and respiration are tracked by chart at the coming of the program and then weekly; this can aid in establishing overall training results, plus it will aid in watching for signs of overtraining.

The primary goal of stage one is to enhance the pulse and respiration, an indication that blood and oxygen have been moved at a faster rate through the body. As stated, increased respiration and heart rate will thus increase blood circulation to the muscles and provide for oxygenation and energy source to the muscles during strenuous physical training. The improved blood flow and nutrients for the muscles also helps elevate the entire body and muscle temperature; and, this in turn will provide for a better static stretching stage.

Stage Two: Stepping it Up and Static Stretching

Stage 2 is the static stretching phase and is really the foundation for overall flexibility. Given the importance of the static stretch, and of flexibility generally, it is always fascinating just how few soccer-athletes engage in it...or any other stretching routine for that matter. Static stretching is slow, easy, and constant stretching of the different muscles groups and is usually quite safe; and, it is a very efficient and powerful ways of achieving overall flexibility. The largest issue with stretching is in the form and the carry out, how the stretches are actually carried out. The right way is in a long, ballistic-free motion, one of constant and applied pressure to a specific group or even muscle of muscles. If done properly, the static stretch can be quite safe and quite beneficial. During the second stage of the warm-up and stretching program, the static stretch must include the different major muscle groups, working from biggest to smallest muscles groups and then back again. The entire regimen will typically last from 5 to 15 minutes, at first; and, taking somewhat less time as training progresses.

In order to effectively stretch the muscles during the static phase of stretching, the athlete's body should remain in a position in which the muscle or even muscle group is under constant, applied tension. To begin with, the muscle or even muscle group to be statically stretched is relaxed. Additionally, the opposing muscle groups are also relaxed. The opposing muscles consist of those muscles "in front of" and "behind" the target muscle or even muscle group. Then, carefully and with deliberation, the athlete slowly and carefully places the body under pressure, with emphasis on the area to be stretched, increasing overall tension to the muscle, or perhaps muscle group. At the point of greatest tension, the stretch is held in place, making it possible for the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to stretch and, when possible, to lengthen. This stage of the soccer-related, strength and health and fitness training program is very effective in advancing flexibility. Stage 2 assists in lengthening muscles and tendons, and in a synergistic fashion impacts ligaments too. The static stretching provides for a greater degree of range and movement of motion. This stage is critical in sports related injury prevention, as it, once more allows for a strengthening, along with the above mentioned lengthening of tendons and muscles.

Stage one and stage 2 form the foundation for what will follow. The first through fourth stages form a general and effective soccer specific warm up and stretching program. The overall warm up and stretching program thus laying the groundwork for the training to follow. It's crucial the first 2 stages be completed completely and in the proper fashion before increasing the intensity and moving into stages three and four. The correct implementation of stages one and 2 will provide for effective and safe exercise in stages 3 and 4.

Stage Three: Soccer Specific Warm-up and Stretch

In general, if the emphasis of the warm-up and stretching was on practice and match play, we would now move to paired stretches and various warm ups designed to be competition-specific. Nonetheless, because this is mostly focused on health and fitness and strength training for soccer athletes, we generally up the level of the stretching to include another round of static stretching, followed by a number of isotonic related stretches. The main focus in stage 3 must be inside out, largest to smallest and back in. That's, for top of the body a series of stretches like the back, chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearms, wrists, and hands. The neck is very important and great care must be taken when stretching the neck for obvious, but not so obvious reasons. The neck has a range of very small muscles and muscles groups but, as Woody Hayes once pointed out to me, "as the neck goes, so goes the body." While Coach Hayes is obviously a legendary football coach, but his lesson wasn't lost on the pupil of his (yours truly). The neck should always get special attention and, as a soccer player, the neck plays a lot of roles, its importance cannot be overstated. After top of the body and the neck, the lower body is next. Included in the lower body are stretches for the gluteus maximus and minimus, the hips, quadraceps, hamstrings, calves, ankles, and feet. Finally, the abdominals must be focused on, and they receive special attention because, like the neck, they are a deciding factor in the overall performance of the body.

Obviously, the stretching program can and usually does take up a complete workout session, especially at first and until the routine is set. There are myriad stretches available and any number of them will suffice. Nonetheless, if you would love to end up with a personalized program, one powerful and designed specifically for you, you must engage the services of a professional, and experienced (they are not absolutely the same), strength and fitness coach, one experienced in dealing with soccer athletes, in particular.

By the time the athlete has completed stage 3, he or she should be perspiring and the heart rate of theirs and respiration should be significantly elevated. The concept is to incorporate the warm up and stretching into the general conditioning program is such a way that it's a number of cascading affects and effects on the entire body of the athlete, all with one thing in mind, optimizing overall development and match performance gains. Put simply, it is the desire of mine to see them manage to put it on the pitch!

Stages Four: Soccer Related Strength and Fitness Training, Warm-up and Dynamic Stretching

Ultimately, the proper warm up must culminate in a number of exercises known as powerful stretching exercises or even just as dynamic stretches. Significantly, dynamic stretches often result in injury. The main reason for the increased incidence of injuries as a result of dynamic stretching has to do with athletes who are not trained properly by coaches that are experienced in working with soccer athletes, or even athletes generally, or the athletes themselves simply do not adhere to training guidelines. For the reasons stated above, dynamic stretching should just be interested in when training with a competent health and fitness and strength instructor; and, not simply one who wants to work out as well as thought it might be a great business to get into! Dynamic stretching has to do with what I refer to as neuro-muscular coordination and is about muscle conditioning, instead of just flexibility, as the name would seem to imply. The dynamic stretch regimen is generally designed and best suited for top-level amateur and professional soccer-athletes, those people who are well trained, and are highly conditioned, competitive athletes. A powerful stretch routine is usually implemented as a final, final step in a flexibility program adhered to for a long time and it is evident to trainer and trainee that the "next level" is appropriate.

Dynamic stretching usually involves movement that is controlled, a bouncing or pendulum motion, forcing the muscle beyond its normal range of motion. Gradually and over time the degree of bounce and the selection of the swing is heightened and improved to achieve an exaggerated range of enhanced flexibility and motion. The most effective instance of this done in an incorrect fashion may be when young athletes attempt to stretch their hamstrings, one foot crossed in front of the other, bouncing up and down to stretch the biceps femoris. Done in this fashion, the young athlete may cause a micro-tearing of the hamstring and risk injury which is serious. But they see others do it and they model the behavior. A recipe for disaster...or at the very least a blown hamstring! During stage 4, it's vital which the athlete integrate dynamic stretches that are soccer-specific. Stage 4 the culmination of the soccer-specific, warm-up, stretching and flexibility program and will result in the soccer athlete achieving peak physical and mental preparation prior to training and/or match play. At this point in the training session, the trainee is prepared for the what will come next, the rigors of an intense soccer specific, strength and health and fitness training program.

Finally, the most neglected aspect of any training regimen, the warm up and stretching, must come first. Without adequate preparation, both mental and physical, the soccer athlete can't hope to achieve maximum performance and optimal training gains. The 4 stage training program is a workout in and of itself and definately will typically take between twenty-five and forty-five minutes to work through. As the trainee becomes used to the routine, its system along with the rigors of its, the amount of time it requires to get through it is lessened. Surprisingly, as time lessens, intensity increases...but so does the fitness level of the athlete. So, when integrating and off season, soccer specific strength and physical fitness training program into your training routine, it is imperative you recognize the value of diet and nutrition, combined with the right warm-up and flexibility regimen. With the above two components in place, we are ready to move on to another ingredient, the actual soccer specific strength and physical fitness training program.