Why Soccer Players Need Rotational Power (and How to Build it)

If you want to be the best soccer player possible, you need rotational power.

If you want to be the best soccer player possible, you need rotational power.

While I am all for Squats, Lunge variations, Pull-ups, Push-ups and Deadlifts for building maximal strength, I believe rotational movements are the icing on the cake for optimizing performance.

Before I dive deeper into this discussion, let me ask you a few quick questions:

  • Have you ever been in awe of an outside midfielder who can cross a perfect driven ball into the box?
  • Have you ever thought "I want to do that" after watching a forward with the ball at their feet and their back to the net suddenly pivot and fire a powerful shot on goal?
  • Have you ever been impressed by an attacker deftly weaving their way through a string of defenders to get into a dangerous area?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you've already witnessed and appreciated the impact rotational power can have in soccer.

Rotational power, particularly learning to rotate your hips with power, will make your movements both on and off the ball sharper and more sudden while also making your actions (such as passing, shooting or heading) more powerful. Building rotational power means training in the transverse plane. By building mobility, strength and power in the transverse plane, you'll develop skills that can translate to better soccer performance.

1. Mobility in Transverse Plane

Before jumping into progressions with load, can you move well in the transverse plane with just your body weight? There's a ton of value in mastering the basics first, as it's body weight you'll be using on game days, as well. Most players are not used to training in this plane of motion, so starting with just your body weight is encouraged.

Here are a few drills that will help you establish a good base of rotational movement and suppleness.

TRX Transverse Squat

Deep Squat + Thoracic Rotation

Plank Rotational Rolling

For all of these, perform 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps on each side. You can perform these as a circuit workout if you're a novice, or as a warm-up if you're more advanced.

2. Strength in Transverse Plane

Strength is a critical component of power.

To have awesome rotational power, you need awesome strength and the ability to express that awesome strength quickly.

Many movements in the sagittal plane, such as Squats, Deadlifts and Lunges, help build serious strength in major muscle groups like the hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteals. But including some strength work in the transverse plan, as well, can further develop these muscles and build the type of strength we need to increase rotational power.

Landmine Transverse Lunge

Band Rotation

For both of these exercises, perform 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps on each side.

3. Power in the Transverse Plane

Now that you have developed a solid base of movement and strength in the transverse plane, it's time to put the puzzle pieces together and produce power. These types of movements should be done at high speeds with light to moderate loads.

Here are some exercises to help you develop power in the transverse plane:

Multi-Planar Speed

Perform 3-5 reps of 10-15 yards with a 90-120 second rest between reps.

Rotational Medicine Ball Toss

Perform 2-3 sets of 5 reps on each side with a 90-second rest between reps. This article from STACK expert Richard Kompf features a number of other exercises that are excellent for building rotational power.

To gain rotational power, start with the foundations first, master them, and then progress to more strength movements with load, then onto power movements with moderate load at a high speed. The results will be nothing short of amazing and you will be moving across the pitch with speed and ease in no time.

Photo Credit: Adam Davy/Getty Images