Don't Get Left Behind In Your Fall Sports

Whether you are a weekend warrior or prepping for fall sports, it’s important to cross train and build a strong body to prevent injuries.  Ensure your best performance with these tips from NBC Chicago Fitness Club coaches:

Andrea Metcalf, author Naked Fitness

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and requires agility, speed and foot stability.  Single leg hops not only strengthen the quads but also the smaller muscles that surround the foot and ankle.  

Single leg hops:
Try hopping forward and back or side to side over a fixed line for 30-60 seconds.  Then repeat on the other side. Hops should be low to the ground, and keep the upper body stable.

Line Runs (Suicides)
Running to and from objects helps strengthen the muscles that we use to change directions.  Line runs utilize both accelerating and decelerating movement with speed.  Start with at least three cones or markers on your field.  Place them at least 10 yards apart and start running to and from each cone and back to starting base.  Repeat 10-15 Line runs and time sets.  Try to beat your times each set or at least maintain consistent speed.

Ball taps:
Whether you chose to play soccer or any agility sport, ball taps can help strengthen the lower leg muscles and improve balance too.
Start with ball on the field and alternate tapping the top of the ball without moving it as you stay directly behind. Perform this move for 60 seconds and then repeat.  

Side Ball Taps:
Start with ball on the field and hop over and back side to side tapping the foot on the ball as you cross over.  Perform this exercise for 60 seconds and then repeat.  It is a great cardiovascular move as well as injury prevention.

Sergio Rojas, Trainer

The change of season, often calls for a change in activities and sports. That means a change in exercise programming to stay conditioned for that specific sport.

But we want to focus on the similarities. Whether you like to play basketball, soccer, tennis, or even football, there are a few things that are common: Everyone needs to be able to decelerate and change direction quickly.  Here are two great exercises to help you improve your deceleration and accelerate your change of direction.

1.  Single leg hops (front and back):  Start by balancing on one leg; then hop several feet in front of you, and land with the opposite foot.  The landing is critical, so make sure to continue to bend at the hip and lower yourself for 3 to 4 seconds after your foot initially touches the ground.  After the slow deceleration, explode back out and hop backwards landing on the original foot.  Do 10 to 20 reps and repeat with the other leg.

2.  Change of Direction: Single leg hops (with angle and lateral hop): Start by balancing on one leg (left); then hop several feet in front of you, and to the opposite side angle (approx 45 degrees).  If starting by balancing on your left foot, you would hop at a 45-degree angle to the right.  Then quickly hop directly to your left, and return.  Do 10-20 reps and repeat for the opposite side.

Another common athletic trait necessity for fall sports, more so than sports in other seasons, is foot speed.  Good foot speed results in quickness, illusiveness, and athletic ability.  Try these 2 drills to improve your foot speed.

1.  Cadence Drills- Start by jogging in place.  As the balls of your feet hit the ground, count off each step, 1-2-3-up; 1-2-3-up; etc… on the up, drive your knee straight up towards your chin.  As you feel more comfortable, begin to increase the speed of your steps. Count 15 to 25 reps of “up” for one leg, then repeat with the other leg.

2.  Ladder drills- Using an athletic training ladder or some tape, do all kinds of step in and out patterns to develop athletic ability and quickness.

Saran Dunmore, I Used to Be Fat MTV trainer

Football players require both speed and agility.  Cardio exercises can help in each category, and one of the basics of any workout program is a cardio warm up to get the heart rate increased, body temperature elevated that assists the connective tissues pliability.  

Here are a few great options:Try simply running up and down a hill to increase cardio and leg strength. A slight incline is all you need.  Sprint up and walk or side step down the hill.  Try for at least 10 minutes of this drill.

Use a track or grassy area to create a more dynamic workout. Start with the following drills to warm up the lower body.

Butt kickers - Run and practice brining your heels up to your backside throughout the run.
High knees - Run and practice bringing your knees to at least hip height with each step.

Seal jumps - Seal jumps are jumping jacks that keep your arms at shoulder height and require that your feet come together as your arms reach out in front of the body.

Ins and Outs - These foot drills practice the “tire drills” without tires.  Run two steps wide and then two steps narrow for at least 100 yards.  Repeat with opposite foot leading the move.  

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