Many of the movements in football demand lower body strength. Running the ball, blocking, tackling and even kicking become more effective the stronger your lower body is. Training to build strength in your legs will increase your speed, explosion and endurance.
Strength for Speed
The good news is that speed training can be incorporated in every workout; the not so good news is that results may take a while. At the end of your warmup or cool down, complete a cycle of high knees, butt kicks, shuffles and karaoke. Make sure you cover at least 10 yards for each exercise/drill and immediately transition from one to the next. Complete three or four sets.
Strength for Explosion
The best exercise for lower body strength is the squat. Since squats use multiple leg and core muscles, it is the ideal exercise for increasing explosion. The good news is that you can execute this exercise without any weights and still maximize on its effectiveness. Without weights, squats can be performed every other workout because there is minimal pressure placed on your legs. The not so good news is that improper form can lead to serious injury. Always perform complex exercises like this with a trained professional.
- For advanced athletes only: Start with legs apart, slightly more than shoulder width. Keep your hands out in front of you and parallel to the ground throughout the exercise to maintain proper balance. Slowly lower your hips, keeping your back straight until your thighs are almost parallel to the ground. Hold for five seconds before returning to your starting position. Complete three sets of four repetitions. Hold the lower squat position or increase reps for a more challenging exercise.
Strength for Endurance
Endurance is essential for every athlete, especially late in the season and the closing moments of a competition. Being able to effectively execute your assignments while fatigued can be the decisive factor in a win or loss. The good news is that gaining endurance can be quite simple; it just requires planning and commitment. The not so good news is that time doesn't often allot for conditioning days during the season, so I would advise building this foundation in training camp.
- The Workout: Have athletes begin at the corner of the goal line and sprint diagonally one hundred yards to the other goal line. When they reach the opposite end, have the athletes complete a light jog across the goal line until they reach the corner. From here they sprint diagonally one hundred more yards and then jog across the goal line to where they began. This completes one set. Allow a rest time of two minutes and repeat; start off with three sets. Increase the challenge by reducing rest time to only a minute and adding more sets. Be sure not to overdo this conditioning and risk injury to athletes.
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