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The World Cup has come and gone, and here in the great Northeast, the cold has settled in to remind us that there’s still some time before winter releases its grip on us for the year.  Although we might find greater warmth and comfort while knocking the ball around indoors or just playing FIFA on the couch, now is the perfect time to increase our fitness before we lace up our boots for the Spring season.

Regardless of the degree of participation (e.g., recreational, scholastic, professional, etc.), there is a base-level requirement of stability, strength, and power that an individual must possess to overcome the stresses placed on the body during play.  Strength training forms this foundation and contributes to the mitigation of injury and improvement in performance by increasing our body’s work capacity.  It goes without saying that in the sport of soccer, core & leg strength are paramount.  This post will focus on the area that links the two regions, the hips.  To do so, we offer four fundamental exercises:

  1. Half squats (back)
  2. Crossover step-ups
  3. Walking lunges
  4. Hip thrusts

The hips represent a key region of the body that translates potential energy generated throughout our core into the various movement patterns utilized during a soccer match.  Training in this region has been shown to improve athletic performance across various age groups of soccer players by contributing to speed & power production, both of which are paramount to the sport’s acceleration/ deceleration & change of direction characteristics. The better conditioned the region, the better the athlete’s expression of speed, power & agility throughout the season.

  1. Half (back) squat: Position the bar on your shoulders, and secure it with your hands facing forward. Keep your torso erect and your abdominals tight while looking straight ahead.  Descend in a controlled manner, keeping your knees and toes pointed forward.  Keep your feet firmly in contact with the floor throughout the movement.  Descend so that your thighs settle to a position similar to when you get up from a chair.  Push through the ground and drive your hips forward while returning to the starting position.


2. Crossover step-ups: Use a box height that is slightly lower than knee height. Step across the body with the lead foot, then ascend by extending the leg fully.  Reverse your direction and control your descension back to the starting position.


3. Walking lunges: Begin with your feet hip-width apart and your torso erect. Take an elongated step forward with the lead leg until the back leg is almost in contact with the floor.  Drive through the ground with the lead leg to bring your body back to the starting position.  Following the sequence with the opposite foot next.

4. Hip thrusts: Place your upper back (around shoulder blade level) on a firm, supportive surface. Position the bar across your hips.  Elevate the bar by squeezing your glutes and pushing your hips toward the ceiling, finishing with the hips, shoulders, and knees in alignment.  Control the weight as you return to your starting position.


If you would like to learn more about how you can prepare for your upcoming season, we’re here to help! Elite’s expert team of Sports Physical Therapists and Sports Performance Coaches can help you recover from an injury or improve your strength, speed, power, and agility with a personalized, sport-specific training program. We’ve helped thousands of athletes elevate their game and we can help you as well.

Elite Sports Performance & Physical Therapy offers Sports Performance programs and Sports Physical Therapy  at both our Foxboro and Stoughton locations. To learn more about our programs and services for athletes of all ages, click HERE or email us at!

Our 12-week SPRING Sports Performance Program in Foxboro kicks off on March 2oth and runs through June 10th! Space is limited to sign up today HERE!


  1. Chelly MS, Fathloun M, Cherif N, Amar MB, Tabka Z, Van Praagh E. Effects of a back squat training program on leg power, jump, and sprint performances in junior soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2009;23(8):2241-2249. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181b86c40
  2. Hammami M, Negra Y, Shephard RJ, Chelly M-S. Effects of leg contrast strength training on sprint, agility and repeated change of direction performance in male soccer players. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 2017;57(11). doi:10.23736/s0022-4707.17.06951-1
  3. Swinnen B. Strength Training for Soccer. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge; 2016.
  4. Millar N, Colenso-Semple LM, Lockie RG, Marttinen RH, Galpin AJ. In-season hip thrust vs. back squat training in female high school soccer players. International Journal of Exercise Science. 2020; 13(4): 49-61