Explosive Fitness for Strikers: Training Methods to Help You Score More Goals
Good strikers have the ability to create opportunities for their teammates, make game changing plays and be the biggest difference maker on the field. As important as every position may be, games are won by putting the ball in the back of the net.
It takes a unique combination of skills to be a special striker these days. Speed, strength, vertical leap, creativity, and much, much more. Like every other position, you now need a little of everything - the big difference is a forward will be forgiven anything if they score to win the game.
Strikers need to be just as adept at dribbling, passing and striking with either foot. This requires that the athlete have very strong stable hips. The lower body strength must be developed in such way to provide power and explosiveness to accelerate past opposing players. Chile forward Alexis Sanchez - named the Copa America MVP - is a perfect example of this.
Power Cleans are an excellent way of building explosive power through the hips in the sagittal plane. The set-up position requires tremendous core activation and hip stability. The actual movement conditions the hips, which are a huge part of your core, to be explosive.
To work on explosive power in the coronal plane it’s a great exercise to use a training routine favored by ice skaters.
Ice skaters work on piling a load to the hips, using a braking effect, then a gathering phase and lastly an explosion to the other side. The coronal plane of motion is critical to train for any soccer player especially a striker who needs to be able to turn and change directions on a dime.
You can see how to do it here:
To work on quick feet, a great exercise is The T-Hop Drill. Here’s how you do it:
- Create a "T" with tape on the ground roughly two feet by two feet
- Start by hopping with feet together, forward and backward as fast as you can, along the vertical line of the T
- Progress to lateral two-foot hops, diagonally, clockwise and counter-clockwise
- Progress to one-foot hops in all directions.
The key to this drill is to limit ground contact time, moving as fast as possible.
To work on vertical leap for heading, perform jump squats and 90 degree box jumps and zig zag tuck jumps.
Jump Squats are performed by squatting with or without a load, depending on your fitness level, exploding up out of\ the bottom of the squat, jumping up off the ground and then landing into a squat position again. Important - do not land stiff-legged.
90 Degree Box Jumps are set up where you are positioned at a 90 degree angle to the box that you will be landing on. Assume the half squat position and explode up off the ground, turning in mid-air to face the box and land in a half squat on the box.
Zig Zag Tuck Jumps are performed by jumping up and pulling your knees into your chest and then landing and exploding right back up while you are changing directions each time you land.
Strikers need to be able to sprint and get up to speed quickly, recover quickly, and sprint again. It’s best to limit longer runs - other than to build a base in the offseason - as longer runs will limit explosiveness in the striker and adversely affect his vertical leap.
Anaerobic soccer fitness determines the level at which you can work at a high intensity. This usually means short bursts of activity, where you will often be out of breath. The key here is to not completely recover before sprinting again.
You are working at a level where your body cannot provide enough oxygen and your muscles need to get energy from glycogen. You can only work for a short time at this level before you get too fatigued and go into something called "oxygen debt".
Anaerobic soccer training will make your body more efficient at using glycogen as a stored fuel and also help it deal with oxygen debt. One effect of oxygen debt is the buildup of lactic acid, which is felt when your legs, for example, feel a burning sensation at the end of an intense long sprint.
This lactic acid needs to be removed from muscles as quickly as possible and anaerobic training helps make your muscles more efficient at coping with lactic acid and better at removing waste products from muscles.
A good exercise here would be “line drills” as they involve short explosive sprints with quick stops and starts as well as change of direction.
Start at the goal line and then sprint to the edge of the box. Then turn and sprint back again, turning and sprinting further now to halfway to the circle and back to goal line. Continue until you have reached midfield and then work back to where you started.
Remember to consult with your fitness professional for guidance on how to perform these exercises correctly. Proper execution is the key to targeting the right muscles
Train hard, train smart and most of all train safe.