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Cal South E-News // December 2009 PERFORMANCE TRAINING

December 17, 2009

Performance Training and Injury Prevention content provided exclusively by Velocity Sports Performance

Well-Balanced Players: Why It's Important to Train on One Leg

by Mikhael Ricks
Sports Performance Director
Velocity Sports Performance - San Diego

I am fortunate enough to have played football for three separate NFL teams during a career that spanned six years. As an athlete playing at the highest level, I believed that Olympic lifts, basic squats and bench press were sufficient to ensure that I was strong enough to play.

But in futbol, like in football, very rarely is an athlete positioned with equal weight on both feet or with the opportunity to utilize both arms simultaneously. At virtually every moment of the game, the soccer player is standing on one foot and using the other foot to control the ball. During this time, opponents are also trying to push you off balance. For this reason, soccer players need to be able to balance on one leg. To master single leg balance, they need to train single leg exercises.

At Velocity, we utilize a variety of single leg squat exercises. In its most basic form, an athlete can stand atop a box on one leg with other leg hanging down and do a squat. Athletes should be careful to keep their weight in their heels, their hips back and their back straight. More advanced athletes can do the same single leg squat while moving their other foot in various planes: anterior, lateral and posterior. By training on one leg, an athlete develops his or her small, stabilizer muscles in addition to the larger, power muscles. This helps prevent ankle and knee injuries that occur when an athlete reacts suddenly to a shove or change in terrain. Single leg exercises also strengthen an athlete's core.

Maintaining proper body position in a single leg squat requires an athlete to contract their abdominal muscles and also strengthens their lower back. A strong core becomes very valuable in soccer when two athletes are fighting for position and possession of the ball. Often times, in a battle for possession, a soccer player is balancing on one leg while utilizing one arm to maintain space from his or her opponent. By adding a single arm dumb bell press to a single leg squat, an athlete further trains for this situation by improving balance and strength simultaneously.

Safe and successful soccer players need to have a strong core, great balance and be equally powerful in each different plane of movement that they may encounter. As coaches we are taught to work up the ladder from stabilization to strength to power. When athlete can master these movements in training, they will be safer and more successful on the field.

Mikhael Ricks is the Sports Performance Director for Velocity San Diego. Prior to training athletes, Mikhael was a Pro Bowl tight end in the National Football League.

About Velocity Sports Performance:
Velocity Sports Performance is a national network of training centers where athletes of all sports, ages and skill levels go to improve their core athletic skills - speed, power and agility. Athletes train in small groups with degreed and certified performance coaches. Velocity Sports Performance is the Official Performance Training Partner of Cal South Soccer. Players who train with Velocity Sports Performance can expect to get to the ball quicker, cover more of the field faster, increase their shot power and reduce their chances of injury. Velocity Sports Performance has training centers throughout Southern California including Irvine, Redondo Beach, Anaheim, Carlsbad, San Diego, West LA and Santa Clarita.