DOMINATE THE SKIES
“If you want to win your aerial battles you need to be able to jump,” says Jarvis. “But in reality it isn’t actually a jump, it’s a leap. The difference is a jump happens from standing still when you have lots of time. A leap on the other hand comes from a run-up, which you use to bounce off. Plyometrics are great for improving your leap.”
THE EXERCISE: SKIPPING
Bounding forward, using a skipping motion, is the perfect plyometric exercise for boosting your leap. Run forwards, exaggerating your strides by bringing your knees up to your mid-section, spending longer time in the air, landing and launching off the balls of your feet. Make sure your momentum is forwards and not upwards. This reduces the impact on your legs. One step counts as one repetition.
More after the break
Times per week: 1-2
WIN EVERY CHALLENGE
“Tackling is all about total body strength, so you need a whole body exercise,” explains Jarvis. “The deadlift targets your glutes and hamstrings, as well as activating your quads, core, back and shoulders.”
THE EXERCISE: DEADLIFT
Stand in front of a barbell so that your shins touch it and your feet are shoulder-width apart. Bending at the hips and knees, grab the bar with an overhand grip shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight, elbows locked, squeeze your glutes and stand up, driving your heels down, pulling the bar up until it passes your knees. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
BURST THE NET
“Shooting obviously requires leg strength, but it’s not quite as simple as just that,” reveals Jarvis. “You can only kick as hard as you can control so you need strength across the diagonal slings, which run from one leg and across the trunk.”
THE EXERCISE: STEP-UPS
Step-ups build strength in the quads and hip flexors and help develop trunk control. Place a barbell across your upper neck. Stand in front of a 40cm high box and place your right foot on it. Your knee should be at a 90-degree angle. Drive your heel into the box and power your body up until your leg is straight. Bring your left foot up onto the box, alongside your right. Leading with your right foot, step backwards off the box.
Reps: 6 per leg
HOLD OFF OPPONENTS
“Upper body strength is essential if you want to show off your skills, but it’s not about having a massive chest and shoulders,” explains Jarvis. “The key to upper body strength is a strong trunk and core. You need an exercise that strengthens both and teaches them to work together.”
THE EXERCISE: WEIGHTED PRESS-UP
Get in the press-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Have a friend place a 5-20kg weight between your shoulder blades. Bend your elbows, keep your back and hips straight and lower your chest until it almost touches the floor. Then push back up to the starting position and repeat.
WRIGGLE OUT OF TROUBLE
“Reaction games can really help you improve your change of direction and speed of foot,” says Jarvis. “Having this skill in your armoury will help you quickly open up space to play a pass or take a strike at goal.”
THE EXERCISE: MIRROR DRILL
Start off face-to-face with a partner, approximately 1-2 metres apart. One acts as a leader, the other as a follower. The leader starts by jockeying from side to side, trying to throw the follower off balance. After five to 10 seconds of this the leader turns and sprints 5-10 metres and the follower chases. Take a 20-30 second rest in between reps to stay sharp.
Reps: 10 (five reps in each role)
BE QUICK OFF THE MARK
“Lots of coaches like working on acceleration by practising standing start sprints, but it’s actually quite rare that you have to do it in a game,” says Jarvis. “In-and-outs are a much more transferable drill and they work on your top speed.”
THE EXERCISE: IN-AND-OUTS
Jog into a 20-metre sprint zone and explode into a sprint before decelerating at the end. These can be progressed by adding a subtle change of direction at the start or at the end. Work with players of similar speed to yourself. Adding competition and motivation to this drill will get the best out of you.
Recovery: Rest during your walk back to start line