The football season is back! Whether you are Lionel Messi or Joe Blogs playing down the park on a Sunday you’re going to want to be playing at your best and scoring that last minute deciding goal. The physical requirements at all levels of the game have risen to lofty heights over the past 10 years, with the need of physical training. It has become a necessity in enhancing performance and preventing injury. Former Arsenal and Southampton FC strength and conditioning coach Matteo Conti gives some top tips on how to enhance your football performance.
Functional competence is the foundation of the performance pyramid, without a high level you will increase your chances of getting injured and limit your ability to fully develop physical qualities. Functional competence is defined as the mobility, balance and stability around the joints and muscles within the body. By having muscle imbalances research shows the likelihood of injury rises drastically, with the effectiveness and efficiency of movement patterns negatively affected. The main generic faults found in footballers are tightness in the hips and groins due to the repetitive kicking action, and weak glutes and core due to the lack of pre hab conditioning work. Focusing on some key mobility exercises for the hips and groins, and strengthening exercises for the glutes and core will help improve your functional competency.
Some example exercises are shown below:
“Hip Flexor stretch”
2 sets 1-2 minute hold each side
Drop down into a lunge positon with the back knee resting on the floor. Keeping your chest and head tall lean into the stretch.
2 sets 12 reps
Lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat, suck your belly button in and push your back flat against the floor. Slowly peel bum off the floor and squeeze glutes at the top then return to start position.
2 sets 12 reps each side
Lying on your back with legs at 90 degrees and arms straight out. Suck your belly button in and push your back flat against the floor. In a controlled motion lower one leg down a tap your heel against the floor maintaining the same back position. Complete all 12 reps with one leg and then switch.
These are very generic exercises which will make a difference initially however you will then need to further individualise the programme to your needs. Undertaking a functional screening in order to pin point your own specific areas of weakness and then devising a programme to improve these is ideal. Once that foundation of functional competency has been built more advanced physical development sessions can be undertaken such as weight training, speed and movement training, and plyometric training. This will develop your speed, strength and power which has a direct impact on performance as long as the training you undertake is football specific so you can directly transfer those gains to the field of play.
To get more advice on sport specific training visit Matteo’s website. He is also offering a free 30 minute taster session to new clients if you are interested in reaching your peak performance!