Strength and Conditioning for Football Performance

During football games it’s very frequent for players to lose their balance which is why using parkour techniques can improve stability.

Author: Hugo Pires (Physical Development Coach)

Previously described by strength & conditioning (S&C) expert Clive Brewer (2019), the role of the S&C coach is multi-faceted (Brewer, 2019).

However player or athlete development can predominantly result through ensuring individual programs stimulate & target the delivery of speed, agility, conditioning & strength/power work that will adequately prepare players for the demands of elite football or soccer, whilst delivering & preparing player for the critical performance moments in games when required.

Collage of movements of young man, professional male soccer, football player in motion, training isolated over white background. Concept of action, team sport game, energy, vitality. Copy space for ad

Long Term Athletic Development or LTAD can be defined as the implementation of a particular progressive training system enabling players to continually & consistently be exposed over many years to key training exercises developing a foundation to build sport specific movement patterns & required skills.

Moreover, this process can then possibly optimize the learning process of youth footballing athletes or players in a more linear, safe & healthy program.

What is Parkour?

Although there are many programs, strategies & methods reported to positively impact the development of youth footballers from a S&C perspective, one such growing methodology employed by youth academies across Europe is bringing aspects of ‘Parkour’ into its foundation & developmental age groups.

‘Parkour’ as it is known can be described as a growing sport where practitioners explore their motor skills capabilities (typically running, climbing, landing, hanging, vaulting, balancing & rolling) in a non-specified setting.

It has been suggested through various media & literature forms that ‘parkour’ is more than a sport – parkour is a way of life, away from strict rules & standardized settings. Aside from being discussed as an ‘art of movement’, parkour is also an excellent method of physical training that can develop one’s ability to build all round fitness & enhance spatial awareness.

Recent research conducted by Strafford et al., (2018) has shown that all the fundamental skills necessary to practice parkour are very transferable to other sports, in particular team sports, such as football or soccer.

During football games (especially when physical contact is involved), it’s very frequent for athletes to lose their balance when contact occurs.

As a result landing, rolling & recovery training from falls could benefit athletes by avoiding twisted ankles, knees, or other injuries.

Balancing isn’t the only parkour skill that football players can transfer to the pitch. Speed & agility are also frequently trained when practicing jumping & vaulting.

Football requires agile movements & fast reaction times especially during a game, when you have to jump higher, cut across opponents or change directions quickly & react faster than the opposition players.

All of that is possible when practicing jumping, landing & vaulting during a parkour training session.

Parkour competition of 2016. This event made place in Tel-Aviv on March.04.2016, Contained 20 participants of 2 association.

As previously described, spatial awareness in conjunction with creativity are also common strength areas developed through the parkour method. By doing it, you will be able to truly see the environment around you & the different possible ways that you can use it, not just during practice but also during a match. This will look different depending on each team’s unique training environment.

Parkour isn’t about fancy equipment or nice gym settings with mats, boxes, hurdles, monkey bars, etc., it is about utilizing the surroundings & emphasizing a variety of fundamental movement patterns.

Improving at parkour should not become the focus of training, it should be looked upon as a potentially useful alternative training method for youth academy football players as it targets various coordinative, fitness & strength principles trained in conjunction with each other.

The versatility, uniqueness & basic movement patterns practice make this type of training fun & useful for the practitioner.  But how to design training tasks to help athletes explore & make use of the complements between parkour & football?

You can start by emphasizing certain skills over a variety of movements & combine them to create a full cycle of movement patterns. (Fig.1)

Strength and Conditioning for Football Performance by

Warm-Up Games to try with Footballers

For example, one category of parkour movements might be grounded movements, such as quadrupedal movements (bear crawls, crab walks, etc.).

This could be done as a warm-up, by having athletes playing a small sided game of soccer while crab walking or accomplishing a specific goal, such as races, relays using quadrupedal movements.

  • One favourite game included within youth training sessions is zombie crabs vs. Ninja bears, in which half of the class is split in two halves & play a tag game. Zombies try to convert all Ninjas into zombies but they can only move according to their teams’ animal.
  • Other categories could include balancing elements, & you could have players walking along with lines of the pitch in a straight line (forward & backward) & close their eyes when the coach calls it out. This is excellent not only for balancing but also for body awareness.
  • Jumping, leaping & landing are skills that can be easily transferred to a football athletic training program. This could be done so that athletes can perform standing long jumps while landing precisely on a given mark (precision jumps) or just landing from a box & sprinting immediately upon landing (contrast training concepts).
  • From a position specific element, goalkeepers may enjoy the parkour training regimes as they can also benefit from jumping, diving & rolling to aid body & spatial awareness.

Parkour training Fitness equipment skill jumping blocks trapezoidal combination, outdoor sport summer camp, mats for acrobatic

Implementing Parkour Exercises

It should be noted that implementing parkour type training into youth sessions is not purely benefiting the physicality & functionality of the players, as the training has also proven to target psychological development. This can be acquired from athletes overcoming fear, moving & performing exercises out of their comfort zone & at times push beyond where they see their limits.

Ultimately, implementing Parkour can offer another training method or session variability when developing general athleticism, coordination, & proprioception.

From a socially perspective this type of training can also promote greater engagement & enhance the desire to continue to participate in physical activity over a longer term period, whilst creating more physically ‘literate’ sporting or football athletes.

These movements & training methodologies can be applied to many other different sports, activities & everyday situations.

Strength and Conditioning for Football Performance by

Summary: Strength & Conditioning for Football Performance

From the short article, whether you are a football or soccer coach, physical development expert, physio, student or practitioner in a sporting context, you will appreciate the need for professional self-development & education across all aspects of the game. The game never stops progressing, developing & professionalising, & ISSPF values the need to educate individuals within the context of the game.

As a result of this, high level football performance education & the constant training or upgrading of coaches, medical, technical & performance staff & even administrative staff, is a proven fundamental building block in the modern footballing strategy.

The bespoke courses developed by ISSPF Faculty members are a way of further exposing sport science students, coaching individuals working within the game & other football science & performance coaching enthusiasts with a thirst to develop further.

The link below will take you to the hugely popular & expertly designed ISSPF endorsed, & accredited Strength & Conditioning for Football Performance online sport science course, which has been described as one of the best online courses for further developing & adding to football coaching qualifications.

It will teach you football science research & content provided by high level practical examples delivered by elite practitioners within the game.

Strength & Conditioning for Football Performance Course

Why Is This Course Important?

  • Provides latest research findings, & contemporary training methods & detailed insights into strength & conditioning (S&C).
  • Highlights the practical application of modern, research based training methods & assessment tools for the strength & conditioning of players.
  • Provides increased evidence & knowledge to understand key strength development & performance processes.
  • Discusses the most efficient training methods & detailed insights into developing player strength & conditioning levels in accordance with nutritional, psychological & long-term development methodologies.
  • Learn from industry experts in the area of football science, strength & conditioning, & performance training in team sports.
  • Gain a better understanding how to maximise development through the use of strength & conditioning techniques across the sporting specific pathway.


How This Course Will Improve You

  • This course will help anyone interested in making better decisions when it comes to S&C coaching with individuals, groups or teams.
  • You will learn from industry experts in the area of football science, S&C, sport science & performance training in team sports.
  • Help you to maximise your decision making through a better understanding & appreciation of S&C in football or soccer science.
  • ISSPF courses are not only recommended by universities & federations around the world, but they are delivered by some of the leading S&C, coaches & performance practitioners in the game providing cutting-edge methods & industry overview on dealing with specific aspects of performance coaching & development.
  • ISSPF are working at accrediting all their courses through academic & footballing institutes in order to provide additional academic currency to the learner.

Strength & Conditioning for Football Performance Course

What Does This Course Cover?

Outline of the Strength & Conditioning Course:

  • 10 lectures: Across the topic involving strength & conditioning in sporting environments.
  • Educating you in the area of soccer-specific strength & conditioning.
  • Pre- & post-lecture reading references for further topic research & understanding.
  • Multiple choice questions must be approved post-lecture.
  • Course assignment bringing contextual learning to life.
  • Total assignment content: involves accumulative tasks relative to each specific lecture.

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