Weight Training in the World of Soccer

Weight training practitioners were shocked by recent comments from English Premiere League coach Maurizio Sarri, where he claimed to ban his players from lifting weights.

Those controversial statements emphasized the apparent disconnect between the prevailing “old-school” mindset in soccer training and current perspectives on strength and resistance training.

What approach can be taken in reconciling these two different takes on athletic training?

More importantly, does weight training really have a role in the world of soccer?

On today’s episode, I share my insights on both the coach’s comments and how weight training plays a crucial role in soccer preparation. I discuss why we need to set aside our biases whenever we are presented with statements that run contrary to our beliefs, as well as some of the questions that we need to ask in order to see the other side’s perspective more clearly.

And I also share the story of how one of my soccer players for the Indy XI consistently improved his performance and got stronger over the course of three years with a smart strength and conditioning program.

If you can open up those lines of communication and have better dialogue with those practitioners that you come in contact with, that’s how we can take our field and industry to the next level. – Mike Robertson

This week on The Physical Preparation Podcast:

  • The controversial quotes from Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri that got weight training aficionados talking.
  • The questions that must be asked when contextualizing such statements.
  • Overcoming your own biases when it comes to fitness and staying open to new approaches.
  • Whether or not it is true that “nobody does weights” in soccer training — and if the same applies to resistance training.
  • A brief look at the differences between American football and American soccer.
  • How proper strength and resistance training can make a massive impact with regard to health.
  • The story of a pro athlete whose decision to train more seriously improved his game over the course of three years.
  • How strength and resistance training early on can benefit an athlete as they approach the end of their career.
  • The term “weights,” and why it is so polarizing.
  • The ways in which soccer culture gets physical preparation culture wrong.
  • The importance of sprinting to soccer players.
  • A surefire recipe for a soccer fitness regime that builds strength and considers the 7 Rs of program design without the need for weight training.

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  • The nuts and bolts of program design
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  • How to train others to squat safely and effectively – in the first session
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  1. Hey Mike thank you very much, definitely the best answer I saw about this topic. I’m from Italy and I know soccer and Sarri very well (btw your pronunciation is not too bad lol). He’s been consistently playing one of the best soccer in Europe for a while now (both at Napoli and Chelsea) and he’s recognized as one of the elite managers by pretty much everyone in the field, so unfortunately it’s hard to argue against his thoughts. I’m also a SC coach myself and I preach (smart) resistance training to all my athletes mainly for injury prevention, and what i dislike the most about Sarri’s statement is that it’s already hard enough to make kids and their families understanding about the importance of strength training, let alone when someone this big and important says it’s not. Imagine Lebron saying “I never won anything by eating fruit and veggies”… Anyways I loved your thoughts in the begin of the show and how you would have worked around in that situation, great refresh! Big fan of your PP101, thank you! Best, Andrea

    • Complimenti per il bel post, non mi aspettavo un italiano tra i commenti, anche se ci riguarda da vicino…..in effetti hai ragione, il buon Sarri ci ha fatto fare l’ ennesima figuraccia all’ estero, come se ne avessimo bisogno!…. 🙁

    • Andrea –

      Thanks so much for chiming in here! I truly appreciate it.

      I honestly hope I don’t come across as rude or pompous in the show, as I obviously have a ton of respect for anyone at his level. And I can’t imagine the struggle you would be up against in this regard, as you’re right, it’s hard enough to get people to buy in when everyone is on board and saying the right things!

      Regardless, keep up the good work and thanks again for listening!

  2. Mike trust me you sounded exactly as you wanted to, very respectful of him and his role (or at least that is what I understood lol). Thank you again!

  3. Just got around to listening to this. Mike, amazing perspective here. Loved how you said yes, soccer players do not use weights on the pitch, but they will help to keep them on the pitch. Good stuff!

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