Plyometrics For Soccer

Using plyometrics for soccer is one the most effective ways to increase explosive speed and power.

Research has shown that a muscle stretched before contraction will contract more forcefully and rapidly. And that is basically what plyometric exercises do…

They stretch muscles rapidly and then immediately demand a powerful concentric contraction. Let’s break that last sentence down with a practical example…

Imagine the jumping movement to win a header.

The very first phase of this movement has to be a downward thrust. Try it. Try jumping off the ground without first bending your knees.

As you “dip” down just before a standing jump you are stretching muscle groups like the quadriceps and hip extensors. These are the muscles that will contract very forcefully a split second later to produce the jump. Now here’s the key…

The shorter or more rapid this downward movement or pre-stretching phase is, the more forcefully those muscle groups can contract. And hence… lift off!

The science behind why this occurs can get quite technical – we’ll save that for another article. For now…

Can you see how general strength training like lifting heavy weights with a controlled rhythm does nothing to promote a quick pre-stretching phase?

As a side note, do NOT use weights, even light loads when performing plyometrics for soccer. Bodyweight provides ample resistance and as we’ll see later, excellent form is crucial.

It’s not just jumping that requires this “pre-stretching” type of movement. Any explosive movement – rapid changes in direction, sprinting (as each leg is planted on the ground) and of course, kicking, will all benefit from plyometrics for soccer.

Soccer player running

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Important Guidelines for Plyometric Training

Here are some very important guidelines to bear in mind before commencing plyometrics for soccer…

  • Warm up with 5-10 minutes of light aerobic activity followed by 5-10 minutes of stretching to all major muscle groups.
  • Perform plyometrics for soccer at the start of a training session before endurance training or lots of ball work. Muscles should be fresh.
  • Plyometric training will not leave you out of breath or even feeling tired. Athletes often feel the urge to do more. Don’t. Stick to your program to avoid injury and severe muscle soreness 34 hours later!
  • Actions should be performed at high speed and with maximum intensity while maintaining high quality. For example, in jumping exercises, as your feet touch the ground you should explode upwards rapidly. Don’t sink into a deep squat – minimize ground contact time.
  • Two minutes rest between sets is normal. Remember, the idea is not become fatigued. Keep good form.
  • Plyometrics for soccer should not contain more than 120 ground contacts for each muscle group in each session.
  • Two sessions per week with 24-48 hours rest between during the late pre-season are ample. One session a week is enough during the in-season.
  • It goes without saying – if any muscle feels sore during a session, end it immediately.
  • There is one more very important pre-condition before performing plyometrics for soccer…

You must develop a solid, well-balanced strength base before you begin. Fail to do that and they can do more harm than good. If you’ve read some of the other articles you’ll know that plyometrics converts existing strength into power. The strength has to be there initially.

Some Sample Plyometric Exercises for Soccer

Here are some sample plyometrics for soccer exercises. A session might contain between 10 and 15 sets of 8 to repetitions in total. For example, you could choose 4 exercises and perform 3 sets of 8 reps for each exercise.

Jump Running 

This is one of the easiest plyometric exercises. Simply run in ‘slow motion’ landing on alternate feet. Try to achieve as much height and distance with each stride as possible. For every right and left foot strike, count one repetition.


  1. Mark out a series of small cones or obstacles about 3 feet apart in a straight line. The number of obstacles depends on the number of repetitions you are performing.
  2. Start behind the first obstacle in a semi squat position.
  3. Jump as high and far as possible over each obstacle. It’s a good idea to practise first to gauge how far apart you should set the markers. Again try to minimise ground contact time.
  4. You can use anything to jump over, a training top or even just a line on a track.


  1. Mark out a small box shape on the floor (about 2 feet square) with paint or chalk.
  2. Keeping your feet together, start at one corner of the box and perform small jumps from corner to corner in a random manner.
  3. For this exercise the emphasis should be on speed and rate of leg movement rather than height.
  4. Each ground contact is 1 repetition.

Lateral Jumps

This is an advanced plyometric exercise. Build up to it over several weeks. Keep the total number of sets for advanced exercise down to 3-6.

  1. Stand alongside a bench, box or cone approximately 30cm high.
  2. Keeping your feet hip distance apart jump sideways as high over the obstacle as possible.
  3. Immediately jump back to the start position minimising ground contact time. This counts as one repetition.
  4. You can use anything to jump over, a training top or even just a line on a track. Just make sure you discipline yourself to jump as high as possible.

Depth Jumps

This is an advanced plyometric exercise. Build up to it over several weeks. Keep the total number of sets for advanced exercise down to 3-6.

  1. Stand on a box, bench or sturdy chair approximately 30-40cm high.
  2. Step off the bench (don’t jump off) and as soon as you land explode vertically as high as you can.
  3. Try to minimise ground contact time i.e. don’t sink down into a deep squat before jumping up.