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Soccer Talk By:Taylor Tollison Soccer Talk By:Taylor Tollison

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Salt Lake Scorpions: Soccer Talk By:Taylor Tollison
Monday, January 15
Soccer strength and conditioning news letters by Taylor Tollison

Training the Core
By Taylor Tollison

At the very heart of becoming a great athlete is not only having a strong and powerful core, but one that will reduce injury.  Most every strength and conditioning program should have at least two goals: 1) improve performance 2) reduce injury. 

Comprehensive is the key word when designing a solid program. No longer is it sufficient to just do crunches or sit ups. Current core training programs focus on training the hip, lumbar and pelvis region. 

Why is training the core important?

The core is where all movement begins. (1)
¡§A weak core is a fundamental problem inherent to inefficient movement that leads to predictable patterns of injury.¡¨(1)
If our arms and legs are strong but our core is weak there will not be enough force created to produce efficient movements. (1)
If you have good core strength and you take a step the energy will pass evenly through your foot, calf and hip-right up the core and through the roof of your head. (2)
If you have bad core strength, specifically hip instability, the energy will leak out at the hip, then the body must compensate, thus leading to injury. 
By strengthening the core one becomes more able to better utilize the muscles of the extremity like the legs and arms.  (3)

What is the core?

The core is where the body¡¦s center of gravity is. (1)  Many people think of the core consisting solely of the muscles of the stomach.  In actuality the core consists of the parts in the lumbo region, pelvic region and hip region.  Here are some of the muscles that are part of each region.

Lumbar Spine Muscles
a. Erector spinae
b. Quadratus lumborum
c. Transversospinalis Group
d. Latissimus Dorsi
Key Abdominal Muscles
e. Rectus Abdominus
f. External Oblique
g. Internal Oblique
h. Transverse Abdominus
Key Hip Muscles
i. Gluteus Maximus
j. Gluteus Medius
k. Psoas

It is the integrated function of the above muscle groups that stabilize the entire body. (1)

How should we train the core?

Traditional methods of core training have included isolated absolute strength training in isolated muscles, utilizing single planes of motion. (1) ¡§However, all functional activities occur in multiple planes of motion and require deceleration, dynamic stabilization and acceleration. (1)  Therefore it is vitally important to have our athletes do more than just stomach crunches or back extensions.  The athlete, parent, coach or trainer needs to understand that to effectively train the core you need to train force reduction,  stabilization and force production.(1) Below is an example given of how to build your core program. 








Stabilization exercises-
Drawing-in maneuver
Push up freeze position on elbows 
side iso-obliques
Floor superman
Floor cobra
Quadruped Opposite arms opposite legs
Tube walking

Strength exercises-
Ball crunch 
side sit-up 
Russian twist 
reverse crunch 
reverse crunch with rotation
Knee up
knee ups with rotation 
Prone cobra 
ball hamstring curl 
ball opp. arm opp. Leg 
back extension
cable chops and rotations and lifts
Med ball figure 8 pattern
triangle pattern
Reverse hyperextensions

Power exercises-
Med ball throw and catch 
Med ball chest pass 
Med ball rotation chest pass 
Med ball Oblique throw and side oblique throw 
Med ball soccer throw 
Pullover throw and back extension throw.  (1)

Pictures and descriptions of all the exercises will be put on the website over time.  So check back often.

Here is an example of how to arrange your sets, reps and number of days training per week.  Every athlete is different.  Some can handle the load below and others need to start out easier.  As a rule; start low and work your way up from there.  You likelihood of getting injured is far greater if you start with too much work too soon. 

Stabilization training Phase-1- 2-4 exercises from the stabilization group done 1-3 sets for 12-20 reps or 1-3 sets for 15-20 seconds, 3-5 days a week.  Some of the exercises are held for time rather than doing a rep not based on time.  Start easy and work your way up by adding sets and reps or sets and time.  Progression is the key.  No hurry in progressing.  Core work should be a lifetime venture.

Stabilization training Phase 2- 1-2 stabilization exercises, 2-3 sets for 12-20 reps or 2-3 sets for 20-30 seconds 3-5 days a week and 2 strength exercises, 2-3 sets for 8-12 reps, 2-3 days a week. Some of the exercises are held for time rather than doing a rep not based on time.  Start easy and work your way up by adding sets and reps or sets and time.  Progression is the key.  No hurry in progressing.  Core work should be a lifetime venture.

Strength training- 2-4 exercises from the strength group, done 2-3 sets for 6-15 reps, 2-4 days a week.  (1)

Power training 1- 1-2 exercises from the power group and 1-2 in the strength group.  3-4 sets x 5-10 reps 2-3 days a week. 

Power training 2- 3-5 power exercises, 3-5 sets for 3-5 reps, (rest longer during the power phase, 3-5 min) 2 sessions a week.  (1)

Never forget to include the core into your training regimen.  One way to hammer home the importance of the core training program is to put it toward the beginning of our training program.  If you utilize a progressive program tailored to your athletes, injuries can be reduced and performance can increase. 

I appreciate any feedback on the articles written. Please let me know how you liked or disliked the article. 

(1) NASM OPT for the Performance Enhancement Specialist
(2) Verstegen, Mark. (2004) Core Performance
(3)  Hedrick, Allen Coaches guide to training the Core/trunk Part 1, Performance Soccer Conditioning. Vol. 6 Num 7 page 10-11.
Restoration and Regeneration for Optimal Performance



By Taylor Tollison

Functional Soccer Training


Rest, recovery and regeneration are vital to the optimal performance of your soccer team.  Restoration is the act of restoring something or someone to a satisfactory state. In sports this means that the body must recover from the mental and physical exertion of the activity to the point where the athlete trains at optimal levels. Here is a graph depicting effective restoration:


                          (1)                                                                100% capacity




                              (1) The athlete in this example starts out his or her training or game at 100%.

                                    (2) After training the performance line drops below the 100% level. 

                                     During rest (3) and recovery this athlete was able to increase

                                     beyond his or her previous capacity levels (4).  Your goal for optimal

                                     restoration is to restore performance capacity to either the 100% line or



This graph depicts what happens when players don’t effectively recover after multiple exercise bouts:


                       (1)                                                                  100% capacity





       (1)  The athlete in this example also starts at 100%.  (2) After training

        performance drops. After multiple days of high activity without

        enough sleep,  rest or recovery his or her performance drops and is in

        danger of injury. (3)


During sport many things happen in the body that can cause reduced performance.  Lactic acid production and reduced glycogen levels are two of the most well known factors that contribute to fatigue.  It is because of by products like lactic acid, hydrogen ions and glycogen depletion that we must restore and regenerate our body to optimal levels prior to the next competition. 

It is important to remember that when we work hard we must rest hard.  It is during rest that our bodies grow, not during work. 


Intense Work + Intense work=Failure and injury


Work + Rest and Restoration=Success and growth


When athletes work without proper rest they are setting themselves up for failure and injury.  Tudor Bompa said improper recovery can lead to fatigue. Fatigue will cause a lack of coordination and concentration, which can cause poor movement quality and thus injury. He further said proper recovery accelerates regeneration, decreases fatigue and enhances adaptations to exercise.  The desired goal of sports training programs is adaptation to exercise and lowered risk of injury.


During tournament situations especially where athletes play 3-4 games in a weekend, proper recovery techniques reign supreme. Follow the six guidelines below for ideas on how to speed recovery in tournament and regular scheduled game situations.

1.      Food and Hydration-

a.       One source said that the ideal time for replenishing your carbohydrate stores is 30-60 minutes after your game or practice.  This is especially important for soccer teams that sometimes have multiple competitions in a day.  When replenishing fluids, drink about 20 ounces per pound of body weight lost during the match.  Next be sure to replenish carbohydrate stores with a carbohydrate-protein mix.  One study showed that a carbohydrate-protein mix is more effective than a traditional 6% carbohydrate only sports drink. (1)

b.      A research study compared a team that ate a carbohydrate rich meal to a team that ate a normal meal.  The team that ate the carbohydrate rich meal covered 25% more distance.  This shows that having enough of the right fuels in the body for competition play a big part in how the game is played.   

2.      Post game regenerative run-

a.       The post game regenerative run can be used immediately after a game or the day after the game.  If you have a game later in the day, it is especially important to immediately follow the game up with a good easy regenerative jog.  If you don’t play for a couple of days then perform the run the day after the game.  This will help clear negative by products built up during the game.

3.      Stretching-

a.       Always stretch after training or games.  This will decrease the soreness that sometimes appears after training. Perform nice easy static stretching focusing primarily on the lower extremities.

4.      Self Massage-

a.       Massage is widely known as an effective tool for recovery.  The problem is many teams don’t have the budget for a massage therapist. To overcome this, use a foam roller or a slightly flat soccer ball.  Roll specific muscles over the foam roller or soccer ball for effectiveness. Your focus should be on the lower extremities.  Self Massage is used to increase blood flow, relax the nerves and loosen muscle.  Important Note: Self massage can be uncomfortable but even a professional massage has uncomfortable moments.

5.      Hot Cold contrast baths-

a.       The hot-cold contrast baths can also advance recovery.  To perform Hot-cold contrast baths simply sit in hot water for about 2 minutes 30 seconds then about 45 seconds in the cold water.  Repeat this a few times for maximum benefits.

6.      Sleep-

a.       Athletes must sleep to recover.  If they don’t get enough sleep their physical performance will be impaired.

Even though rest and recovery is not a glamour topic like speed and agility, it lays the foundation for planning all your training.  One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a coach or parent is to think that the harder and more frequent my athlete exercises the better athlete they will be.  Proper rest and recovery between intense games and conditioning is key to growing and preventing injury. 


1.       Williams, Michael. "Effects of Recovery Beverages on Glycogen Restoration and Endurance Exercise Performance." The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 11, no. 1 12-19

Weight Loss for Soccer Players

By Taylor Tollison


It is important to approach this topic with an open mind. Most soccer athletes are lean but how you approach that small percentage of overweight players can have a big impact on their development.  Before you stop reading because you feel this doesn’t apply, ask yourself this question,  would I recommend that overweight soccer players exercise 20+ minutes continuously to lose the weight?  If that is your recommendation please keep reading.  You very well could be affecting that soccer player in a couple of ways:  1. increased likelihood of injury 2. decreased performance. 

Misconceptions about weight loss and soccer training throughout the years tend to exacerbate the situation. Traditional weight loss programs tell us that to lose weight you must get on the exercise bike, run or do the elliptical machine for 20+ minutes a day at least 3 times a week. 

Through further analysis I hope that you will see why it is not recommended to lose weight via long drawn out sessions. 

Performance could decrease

In the world of athletics few things matter more than running fast, cutting quickly and jumping high.  Every day we hear of athletes that have 40 inch vertical leaps or can run the 40 yard dash in 4.3 sec.  These are world class numbers that require both good genetics and the proper exercise regimen.  Athletes that have such great numbers could literally have excelled at almost any speed sport with the proper practice growing up. 

How can running 20 minutes continuously day after day affect the overweight soccer player’s athleticism?  Numerous studies and countless hours of experience by many have shown that continuous stead state exercise negatively affects power.  Power provides the boosters to run fast and jump high which are driven by fast twitch fibers.  Simply put, the more fast twitch fibers you have, the faster you will run. 

By doing long drawn out runs you start to not only train your slow twitch fibers but also convert the properties of fast twitch fibers to slow.  This makes you a slower athlete. 

Increased likely hood of injury

The body is exposed to up to seven times its body weight on every step while running.  Exposing the body to repeated poundings when it is not able can eventually cause overuse injuries. 

This is especially important to overweight athletes. Exposing a 180 pound athlete who is only adapted to handle 150 pounds to repeated trauma causes a huge weight bearing deficit for each step taken.  If each step during a run causes seven times the bodies weight in pounding, that is 210 pounds more, in this example, than the body is used to on each step.  That is the equivalent of almost one grown person riding on that athletes back during a 20 minute run.  Over time how do you think this athlete will fair?

How to arrange a proper weight loss program for overweight soccer players


This is based on a player being untrained and with no injuries.   You should start the initial stages on a bike or elliptical machine to decrease weight bearing.  Continuous exercise in the initial stages is only for the body to adapt to the harder exercise to come. If the athlete progresses well enough and decreases a significant amount of weight, have them start running in the later stages of this plan.  Start this athlete at the intro level then move them to novice and so on. This is only an example.  I recommend you consult with a trainer in your area and a doctor before moving forward.

Intro level

Start out with longer steady runs to get the body adjusted to exercise.  Keep the pace easy. 

Week 1:  15 minutes continuous. 

Week 2:  20 minutes continuous. 

Week 3: 20 minutes continuous but pick up the pace a little so the athlete is now exercising at a higher intensity.


Here is where you are going to really pick up the pace.  The athlete in this stage should be breathing hard.

Week 4: 3 minutes for 2 reps. 

Week 5: 3 minutes for 3 reps. 

Week 6: 4 minutes for 3 reps.

Week 7: 4 minutes for 4 reps. 

The athlete should rest the same amount of time between reps as the exercise lasts. If the rep lasts 3 minutes then rest 3 minutes till you do the next 3 minute rep.


This level is very hard, close to maximum, but not quite. 

Week 8: 30 seconds 3 times.  Do this for 2 sets.  That is a total of 6 reps. 

Week 9: You will you will rest the athlete by cutting a few reps. 30 seconds 4 times. 

Week 10: 45 seconds 3 times for 2 sets.

The athlete should rest two times the duration of the exercise and 3 minutes between sets.  If the exercise lasts 30 seconds rest 1:00 min.


This level is done at 100% intensity.  You will rest 5 times the duration of the exercise between reps and about 3 minutes between sets.

Week 11: 15 seconds, 2 sets of 5 reps. 

Week 12: 15 seconds, 2 sets of 6 reps. 

Creating the best athletes as possible is important to the success of your soccer team.  But implementing the correct exercise program for those athletes that need to drop some weight is key to their success.  It does no good to get an athlete to lose weight by doing long continuous runs if they are injured all the time.  Remember one of the primary goals of strength and conditioning is injury prevention.

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