Brian’s First All-Out Soccer-Specific Strength and Fitness Workout: The Kid Makes The Grade!

by CoachZ on March 5, 2009

Youth soccer-specific strength and fitness training always demands the utmost attention to the client’s outward appearance and unconscious signals. Failure to pay proper attention when working with any individual, particularly with kids, because kids are so eager to please, they will often go beyond themselves in order to do so, and that’s when injuries occur.

Brian’s Soccer-Specific Strength and Fitness Training Begins

Brian showed up right on time, Lombardi Time, fifteen minutes early dressed and ready to begin. I sat off to the side and watched as he, without prompting, began the series of stretches we’d covered twice now…he did them flawlessly. Up until now Brian was being tested. And, while testing never really stops, Brian showed me he had the heart to do what I was about to demand of him. You see, so many times it’s the parents that want the program, not the player. If I find that to be the case and I determine that the child is just not into it, I find a way to disqualify the individual, always after a heart to heart with all concerned. There are enough athletes out there who want the best training available without having to force some poor kid against his or her will!

After Brian hopped off the Lifecycle, 20 minutes at random 3, the kid was sharp, I grabbed my clipboard (we document everything) and nodded towards the leg extension machine. Brian smiled and was up on it without hesitation. I watched as he began to adjust the seat so the back of his knees were tight against the seat, just like I showed him. This kid will be working out on his own soon, I thought. I then proceeded to explain to Brian the idea behind leg extensions and the proper form for carrying them out. I told him we were not interested in how much weight he could lift or even how many times! “I don’t care and your muscles don’t care. All I want from you,” I told him, “is to give it 100% until I tell you to stop.” Brian nodded without saying a word and proceeded to do just what I told him.

NOTE: As noted previously, I never take a young athlete to failure with heavy weights, it can damage the growth plates and injure muscle and connective tissue. We are not in the business of producing powerlifters, although I have worked with some of the best, some of the strongest men in the world, literally. However, with young athletes care must be given never to risk injury to growth plates, muscles, tendons or ligaments. Let me say that again…NEVER!

Next, we went straight to the leg biceps (hamstring) curl, followed by the abduction and adduction machines. The only rest Brian had was the time it takes to move from one exercise to the next, he was doing what I call a rapid-cycle circuit. After the first couple of times through, I was setting the proper seat position for the next exercise, always keeping a close eye on body positioning and body language, while he finishing up with the previous exercise. So, after the abduction and adduction, we went to the leg press machine, then on to the hack squat, which we do face-in for quickness, power, and explosiveness. By the time we are finished with the legs, the athlete is looking pretty worn out, Brian was no different…but he was still game.

Upper body:

Brian hesitated a bit when we got to the first upper body exercise. I could tell something was on his mind, so I said “What gives?” He hesitated again and I nodded that it was OK to speak up, and he did. He asked why he needed to work his upper body when he was a soccer player. I smiled and asked him if he had watched any professional soccer, men’s or women’s, or any national team matches. He said he hadn’t, except once in a while he watched the US Men’s National Team and that he would rather be playing than watching it. I smiled and thought to myself that I had been the same way when I could play. Why watch when you can be playing? So, I gave him an assignment: I told Brian he had to watch fifteen minutes of professional soccer or national team play I didn’t care what teams, just fifteen minutes, and give me the answer to his own question in a week. Brian winced but he said OK and we continued with the upper body workout.

The upper body workout focuses on big muscle groups down to the smallest, and in…out. The workout begins with the back and then the chest (in), then works to the shoulders and out to the arms and forearms. Finally, after we had moved from back to chest to shoulders to triceps to biceps to forearms, we go back in and work the abdominals and obliques. By the time we finish, and if the athlete finishes, many times the athlete does not finish, at least for the first few times through, we have worked largest to smallest, largest to smallest, and then core. The workout is intense, focused, and usually takes now more than thirty minutes…after the warm-up.

I would love to tell you Brian finished the first time through but I’d be lying.

Brian stopped halfway through the chest exercises. In fact, Brian didn’t make it all the way through the first four times, then he never stopped again. It was as if he made a decision that he was not going to be beaten, and after that, he rarely ever was! After the first workout, Brian was shot. I mean he could hardly stand up for a few minutes. Then, seeing his mother walk through the front door, he got up, went to the locker room, showered, got dressed, and came out looking like he had been on a stroll through the park. He was not going to show his mother how tired he was. I found out much later that he didn’t want his mom to interfere; she still wasn’t sold on the whole idea.

I smiled at Mom, told her Brian did “fantastic,” and set up his next workout for 48 hours later. She smiled, messed up his hair a bit, and they left the gym with Brian walking just a little bit gingerly. I made a mental note of it, would watch the next workout, and moved on to the Rosen twins…6’6″ twin girls who played basketball for the local high school and were being scouted by every major university in the country.

Brian spent the next week watching professional soccer, and a US Women’s National Team match, he said he liked Michelle Akers, said she was awesome. After the week, I asked him if he needed me to explain to him why soccer players should work out their upper bodies. He smiled, shook his head no, and commenced to work harder than ever on his whole body. Brian was that rare kind of athlete every coach dreams of being able to work with, I was just one of the lucky few to actually have an opportunity to work with him…and many more like him.

Brian started to grow, not only up but out. He was growing taller and, in terms of muscle, width and depth, Brian was getting big! Brian, still not even a teenager, was turning head and would have made any football coach’s dreams come true. But Brian was a soccer player, a dominant one in his age bracket. Soon however, Brian was playing two and three years up…making a huge impact. You see, Brian’s strength and fitness gains were incredible and soon the word was out, we were turning away athletes. As a business, we would have loved to sign every one of them. But as an athletic training company, we could only train so many and do it effectively. We weren’t going to hire just anyone off the street to work with our clients. Many have, we wouldn’t.


Brian makes the jump to premier (club) soccer, and gets an amazing invitation.

Thanks for looking in! We will begin to discuss actual workouts soon, for those of you who would like to have that sort of information. Please, keep in mind that these workouts were conducted under experienced, adult supervision. Do not attempt these or any other workouts without first getting clearance from your family physician. Every athlete we every trained, and train to this day, has had a thorough physical before beginning our program. No physical? No program!

Take care!


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: