The Explosive Soccer Player
Developing Ultimate Power

Once a soccer player has completed and built a solid base for strength, he/she now needs to convert this force into specific power for soccer.

Power represents the ability to exert maximal force in the shortest amount of time, otherwise known as speed strength.

Another way to define power is :

The quickest rate at which Fast Twitch (FT) muscles can be recruited or fired up, and depends on the amount of FT fibers developed and increased during the strength phase.

In simple terms : Strength Training produces fast twitch muscle fibers. Power Training programmes them to react quicker.

Therefore the Power phase is significant in how to play soccer explosively.

The main objective of a power training progrmme is to perform a small group of exercises in a fast and explosive manner, between 10% - 60% of your 1 rep max. Where the movements are closely related to how you would respond in game conditions, involving the Prime Mover muscle groups (main muscles that activate power) and keeping the reps low to perform more sets.

This enables players to push harder and quicker against the ground significantly, which contributes towards betterreflexes, agility and acceleration of strength in movement.

Power training also Increases a soccer players state of awareness for speed on and off the ball, assisting with coordination, timing and relaxation. And allows total flexibility in adapting to explosive and unexpected situations during the game of soccer, on the ground or in the air.


There are many different tests available for a soccer player to use that can give some idea of where they stand in relation to their present power/strength for soccer.

Though as a good indicator and gauge of high speed strength, the Power Clean is a great place to start.

One Rep Maximum Power Clean

As I mentioned above, in order for a soccer player to perform high performance jumping and sprinting soccer moves, they need to drive hard and quick with the legs through the ground. Utilizing the core or centre of gravity and hips.

As well as acting as a gauge or base to calculate a percentage weight of your 1 rep max, the power clean is also an ideal exercise itself to perform for power soccer moves.

Before you perform the power clean make sure you are thoroughly warmed up, and that you practice strict technique with lighter weights with one set of 5 - 10 reps. Once you are happy that you are performing the exercise correctly, add more weight at an estimated level below what your 1 rep max might be and perform 2 sets of 5 reps.

After a rest period of about 4 mins you are now ready to attempt your 1 rep max, and have a good idea as to how much more weight to add.

Power Clean Technique ( Upward Phase )

  1. Position yourself in front of the barbell, feet about shoulder width apart and feet slightly turned out.

  2. Squat down so that your shin bone is in a vertical plane (90°) and about 1” away from the bar.

  3. Your arms should be holding the bar just slightly wider than shoulder width and completely straight.

  4. Look forward with your head in a slightly downward mode, your chest out, keeping the back straight, and pushing your backside back.

  5. Keeping your arms straight, slightly pull on the bar to feel the weight and to eliminate any jolting. With your feet pressing firmly into the ground. Take a deep breath in, and contract your abdominal muscles hard, as if expecting a punch.

  6. From there explosively lift the weight by driving the feet into the ground and snapping the hips forward. Remembering to keep the arms straight and the bar approx 1” away from the shins and close to the body on the way up.

  7. As you drive up, totally extend the body and come up on to your toes (planter flex) bringing the elbows high.

  8. Immediately and simultaneously dropping under the bar while it is rising, sinking into a semi squat, and snapping the wrists backwards pushing the elbows forward to catch the bar.

  9. The bar should finish and rest across the anterior (front) part of the deltoids with your palms facing up and your head looking forward.

  10. Straighten legs for erect posture.

Downward Phase

  1. Turn wrists forward and elbows up, allowing the weight to descend while gradually resisting the weight as it drops.

  2. Simultaneously contract abdominals and push backside back slightly, to further decelerate the weight to cushion it on the thighs

  3. Keeping head up, back straight, tensing abdominals and pushing backside back further. Allow the barbell weight to further descend to the ground.

  4. Perform 3 - 4 reps x 3 - 4 sets of between 30% to 60% of your 1 Rep Max

Note : The main objective of the power clean and the exercises listed below is for the soccer player to explosively lift and move additional weight in the shortest amount of time. And programming the CNS to react faster and quicker

That is why only a handful of reps are required on each set.

Once you begin to slow down or tire, immediately STOP, As this will encourage a slow twitch muscle response and therefore defeat the object of power.


Below are listed 4 additional highly effective and beneficial power drills, that will help the soccer player to recruit fast twitch muscle fibres and programme the CNS to react quicker.

Explosive Kettlebell Squat Shrug

This is a simple but challenging exercise for developing soccer players transitional lower body strength to upper body.

Especially important when competing for high balls or aerial supremacy in soccer.

  1. Adopt a squat position with feet about shoulder width apart, with 2 kettle bells on the floor either side touching the outside of your legs. Keep arms straight holding both handles as if holding a couple of suitcases. and make sure your head is looking forward, and knees are behind your toes.

  2. Engage your core muscles and gently tug on the kettlebells to eliminate any slack that may create a jolting effect.

  3. Inhale deeply and slightly sit back so weight is on your heels and explosively drive through the legs powering yourself upwards. Simultaneously retracting ( shrugging ) your shoulders back, and keeping your arms straight.

  4. When descending still keep arms straight and push your backside back with head up and core tight, landing gently on your toes and smoothly rolling back onto your heels.

  5. Repeat for 3 reps x 3 - 4 sets

Kettlebell Full Body Attack ( Deadlift Technique )

As the name suggests this exercise conditions the total body to react instantaneously and explosively.

Correctly executed, this drill can play a pivotal role for power soccer in developing a soccer players lightening speed and power for a multitude of situations on the soccer field.

  1. Have two kettle bells positioned in front of you with the handles at about 45° inwards making a pyramid shape.

  2. Position yourself over the top of them in a squat position with your feet either side, a little wider than shoulder width apart. Grasping the handles with your palms facing outwards, and your arms straight.

  3. Perform a full squat thrust while still holding the handles before returning to the start position (2), and immediately drive through the legs to lift the KB’s. Keeping the arms straight, and concentrating on activating your core and glute muscles to snap the hips forward to propel the weight.

  4. Repeat for 3 reps x 3 - 4 sets

Kettlebell Full Body Attack ( Power Clean Technique )

After a few sessions and once the technique and performance with the Full body Attack Deadlift has been acheived. A soccer player can perform this exercise with the addition of incorporating a double kettlebell clean.

  1. Return to the start position after a squat thrust, and drive upwards, using the same techniques in phase 3 of the Full Body Attack Deadlift
  2. Come up onto your toes, while simultaneously lifting your shoulders and pull the kettlebells upwards, keeping them close to the body.

  3. Quickly pull the elbows into your ribs, while at the same time bending the knees slightly to get under the weight.

  4. The Kettlebells should finish on the outside of your arms and forearms with the wrists straight at 90°

  5. Repeat for between 3 reps x 3 - 4 sets

Double Kettlebell Swings

As well as developing explosive power from the hip, the Double Kettlebell Swing also loads and strengthens the hamstring muscles, which as we know is one of the most common soccer injuries.

By incorporating this exercise into their power programme, soccer players will not only increase soccer speed and strength. But reduce niggling hamstring pulls and strains.

  1. Position the kettlebells about 1’6” in front of you holding the handles palms facing out and roughly parallel to one another. Your feet positioned wide to allow for clearence when swinging, with your head up, backside pushed back, spine neutral and arms straight.

  2. On lifting the kettle bells slightly, push your hips back and allow the KB’s to naturally swing back to create momentum remembering to inhale deeply and activate core muscles. The weight transferring onto your heels

  3. On the return swing, explosively lock out the knees and tense the glute muscles to snap the hips forward still keeping the arms straight. When the kettlebells swing forwards lean back slightly without arching the back and pull the toes back to transfer weight to heels.

  4. Repeat for 3 reps x 3 - 4 sets

It is also very beneficial for soccer players to incorporate weighted power training with a carefully constructed Plyometrics Programme.

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