There are a number of very simple exercises that can assist with preventing footballers from becoming injured in season, and most also serve a purpose in improving the physical conditioning of a player, and attributes important to gameplay at a higher standard. Below are the most important few.

Exercises can be combined with a regular gym program that the player may already be carrying out, or can act as a standalone workout that would benefit any footballer.

The Work Out

Gluteal Work (Body Weight Jump Squats):

Feet shoulder width apart. Remain straight through your spine and sit back as you lower yourself down into a squat. At about ¾ of your full squat depth, explode back up and reach up with your hands as far as you can. As you come down, focus on landing with slightly bent knees, feet still at least shoulder width apart, and hold your knees outwards as you take weight through your legs.

Dose: 3 sets of 10

Goals: Improve balance, improve landing technique for ACL injury prevention, and strengthen glute muscles. Regular squatting has also shown a big relationship with improved 2km times.

body weight jump squats

Hamstring Work (Drinking Stalk):

In standing, take weight through one leg. Next, while keeping your back and legs straight, reach forward and towards the floor with the arm on the side of the planted leg. Tip your body forward over the planted leg, and raise your spare leg up behind you to counter balance, as you slowly seesaw towards the ground through your trunk. Move to a place where you feel tightening/stretching through the hamstring of the planted leg, and with control slowly raise yourself back to a standing position. Tense your hamstring to generate the force needed to move from bent to standing.

drinking stalk

Dose: 2 sets of 10 (each leg).

Goals: Improve hamstring strength, improve hamstring length, improve core stability, improve muscle control, and improve speed when running.

Calf Work (Single Leg Calf Raise):

It’s really important to have good calf strength, as well as calf muscle endurance. Elite footballers need to be able to compete a minimum of 30 single leg calf raises in a row with no support and good technique.

Take weight onto one foot, and rise up onto your toes, lifting your heel off the ground as high as you can. Ensure that your shinbone remains over the center of your foot as you rise up, and you are squeezing your calf muscle at the top of each rep. Continue this to exhaustion – where you cannot complete another rep. Add regular calf stretching if you want to help prevent strains.

Dose: 3 attempts to exhaustion on each leg

Goals: Improve calf strength, improve ankle support, improve calf endurance which aids in running and landing late in games when fatigued, reduce risk of calf tear, and improve balance.

single leg calf raise

Hip Work (Side Leg Lift):

One of your gluteal muscles plays a big role in not only footy performance, but also prevention of a number of injuries. Your gluteus medius muscle – on the side of your bottom, can be worked by lying on your side in a straight position, then lifting the top leg straight into the air to about 45 degrees, then back down. Control the leg on the way up and down, and do as many in a row as you can until failure. Roll over and do the same on the other leg, each of these should be equal in number of reps.

Dose: 3 attempts to exhaustion on each leg

Goals: Improve sprint speed, improve strength over the ball, improve stability on planted leg when kicking, reduce risk of knee injury, reduce risk of hip injury, reduce risk of low back injury.

side leg lift