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The efficacy of the bodyweight squat

I’ve worked with a variety of female soccer players over the last several years – generally high school age. In my experience, the best “athletes” – the players who rank in the top of the group in terms of their quickness, strength, balance, and injury avoidance – are the players who can do quality bodyweight squats to parallel or below. When I see a player that can’t hit an air squat, I know that there’s an issue that soccer is only going to make worse –  weak or short posterior chain,  lack of ankle or hip mobility,  balance,  quad strength,  or all of the above.  These players –  often top-performers,  hard-working,  dedicated to the program – end up in the trainer’s room,  or requiring extra time for pre-practice or pre-game stretching,  or sometimes worse.

My background is soccer but I think this is true in general –  not enough effort is made with elite early teenage athletes in the area of flexibility and strength training.  Coaching and training in the 11-14 year old ages is highly focused on sport-specific skills development. During my stint as a JV boys soccer coach,  it was typical to see players “lose”  then “regain”  their balance (meaning coordination and body self-awareness)  during the early teen years.

The US Club Soccer NorCal Fiorentina training program includes proprioceptive development modules for younger ages.  I think it would be great to see more awareness around strength and flexibility training for older youth players.

Let’s start with bodyweight squats.

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