The Canadian University Soccer season is here, and this year marks my 3rd season as Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks Women’s Varsity Soccer Team. This season, I will be blogging every day with a ‘Tip of the Day’ – a small piece of information about the testing, training, monitoring, or performance analysis I am doing with the team.
Today’s Tip of the Day is about hamstring strength, and is a continuation from my previous post about hamstring flexibility. Because the hamstring muscles contract both concentrically (to powerfully extend the hip) and eccentrically (to slow down the knee as it extends in stride) during running, they must be trained to perform these functions for optimal on-field performance. A concentric contraction involves contracting the muscle as it shortens. In the case of the hamstrings, they get shorter as the hip extends (straightens) and as the knee flexes (bends). below are videos of 2 good concentric hamstring exercises that are functional and sport-specific to soccer:
Bulgarian Lunge (for hip extension): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMZzHbMjG_I&list=UUJXrOk-fEEmfJ31eB0j0jhQ
Bench Pop-Ups (for knee flexion): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dw0Bkm3hU8w&list=UUJXrOk-fEEmfJ31eB0j0jhQ
An eccentric contraction involves the muscle contracting while it lengthens. The hamstring muscles contract eccentrically, mainly to slow the knee joint down as the leg decelerates. Here is a great hamstring exercise that can be used eccentrically:
Stability Ball Hamstring Curl (eccentric contraction): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpadDkpXkZo&list=UUJXrOk-fEEmfJ31eB0j0jhQ
Incorporating these hamstring exercises into the strength routine for soccer players will help to improve strength, stability, power and speed, while also minimizing the risk of injuries, both to the hamstrings as well as to the knee joint. I have used them and had great results with soccer players of many different ages and levels of ability.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.