Weak Side? What Weak Side?

By Steve Calechman

Success in soccer is just like in basketball and tennis — you must develop your weak side to become more dynamic, balanced and threatening. The initial steps might feel awkward, but you'll improve quickly with the plan that follows from Scott Piri, director of soccer performance at Athletes’ Performance. He lays out drills for the gym and the pitch to become a symmetrical beast.

1 - Get comfortable
Juggle the ball with your off-foot for one minute, avoiding excessive spin by concentrating on finding the center of the ball. Be subtle with your touches — let the ball do the work. Along with working your handling skills, you’ll warm up your muscles and core temperature. Progress to using your knee for one minute and then alternate between the two. Total time: five minutes.

2 - Dribble
Use a designated area big enough that you can move and cut in all directions but also tight enough to replicate what you’d face in a game. Aim for the center of the ball for control and vary the patterns with all angles of your weak foot — think of it like shadow boxing. Keep the ball close to you, so you can touch it with each step. Total time: five minutes.

3 - Learn to drive
Kick the center of the ball against a wall five yards away, using the inside of your foot and following it directly to your target. You want the ball to come straight back to you and only have to take one step with your plant foot before you repeat. Do this for five minutes to work on your timing and rhythm before moving back to 10 yards. Rather than your instep, use the top of your foot to drive the ball into the wall, keeping your toe pointed down, planting your off-foot next to the ball and pointed at your target and keeping your body over the ball to maintain a low shot. Then move back to 20 yards. Do 10 minutes total.

4 - Squat with one
In order to harness power, you need a base of stability and strength. Single-leg squats will help provide that by working each leg individually, while challenging your pillar strength. Make this move part of your strength training.

Another staple for your strength workout: split squats. They build strength and balance, and, by simulating soccer movement, condition the muscles for deceleration and change of direction.

5 - Train laterally
While most leg exercises will work you forward and back, these two — abduction and adduction, with cables — will train your body in a lateral direction. That's key for any sport, particularly soccer. Along with building stability, the motion will help coordinate your swing and plant legs and translate into stronger passing and striking.