Stretch-shortening cycle for strong soccer shooting

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The most common problem I have in private lessons is “I can’t kick a strong shot.
This is especially a problem for children who have just started playing soccer from first to fourth grade, or children who attend soccer schools but cannot kick a strong shot.

The big difference between a child who can kick a soccer ball hard and a child who cannot kick a soccer ball hard is, as the title say, he or she is able to perform the “stretch-shortening cycle”. This movement is also known as the “stretch reflex,” which means that when a muscle is stretched, it tries to contract on its own.

In this article, I wronte how this movement works when kicking a shot, and how to strengthen this movement.

What is Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC)?

First of all, the nature of muscles is that they help humans perform various movements by repeatedly “stretching” and “contracting.”

SSC is a physiological principle that combines extension (stretching) and contraction (shrinking) to perform powerful movements.

It is easier to understand if you imagine a rubber band.

When it is stretched, it tries to come back stronger and faster. This is a movement very similar to SSC.

Movement in soccer shoot

Now, I will explain which parts of the body extend and which parts contract when shooting a soccer ball.

The photo below shows the stepping motion before kicking the ball.
サッカーのシュートに必要な知識 強いシュートに必要なストレッチ・ショートニング・サイクルを理解

As you can see in this photo, the right leg is stretched far back, and the left hand is also stretched far back.

Now, let’s take a look at the photo below from the next shot.
サッカーのシュートに必要な知識 強いシュートに必要なストレッチ・ショートニング・サイクルを理解

When kicking the ball, the right leg and left hand, which were extended earlier, are moving in the opposite direction.

When you look at kids who can kick a soccer ball hard, they all make the same movements.

The reason why these movements commonly occur is because muscles and tendons have the property of storing elastic energy when they are stretched. In order to release what has been stored up all at once, the stretched muscles immediately try to return in the opposite direction.

However, the question here is, if you want to kick an extremely powerful shot, should you just stretch your muscles as much as possible? This will be difficult even if you try to do something like that. If it stretches any further, you will get injured! This is because your body picks up on this signal and automatically causes a reflex to contract your muscles. This is called a stretch reflex.

How  to increase shooting power

Once you understand the above, I will introduce some exercises that will help you maximize your SSC. When you first start playing soccer, you are not used to kicking a ball, so you don’t know how your body should move.
To learn the movements of stretching and contracting, try practicing the movements below.

①Diagonal swing standing version
Swing your diagonal arm and leg back.
強いシュートを打つためのウォーミングアップ エクササイズ 立位①強いシュートを打つためのウォーミングアップ エクササイズ 仰向け①

Swing your arms and legs back and lower them forward.
強いシュートを打つためのウォーミングアップ エクササイズ 立位② 強いシュートを打つためのウォーミングアップ エクササイズ 立位②

The key is to avoid bending your body when you swing your legs forward.



②Diagonal extension prone version
First, lie face down on the floor.
強いシュートを打つためのウォーミングアップ エクササイズ うつ伏せ①

Raise your diagonal hand and foot as high as possible.
強いシュートを打つためのウォーミングアップ エクササイズうつ伏せ②
At this time, without raising your head, raise your arms so that they are higher than your ears. Be careful not to bend your knees too much.

Do the same thing in the opposite direction


③Diagonal sit-up supine version

Lie on your back with your arms and legs diagonal.
強いシュートを打つためのウォーミングアップ エクササイズ 仰向① 

Raise your diagonal limbs so that they touch just above your belly button.
強いシュートを打つためのウォーミングアップ エクササイズ 仰向け②
Be careful not to let the opposite arm and leg leave the floor.

Do the same thing in the opposite direction.
強いシュートを打つためのウォーミングアップ エクササイズ 仰向け③

The above is the exercise content for beginners that is also taught in private soccer lessons. As a warm-up before practicing shooting, do each exercise 10 to 15 times on each side before shooting, and you will unconsciously use your body to move more efficiently.

First, remember the movement of your body and get used to the feeling of being stretched and contracted.

Previous articles have summarized the technical aspects of kicking the ball strongly, so if you’d like, please refer to the articles below.
(Sorry, the articles below is only in Japanese. English articles are comming soon)

シュート力の強化 ①足の振りの速さ
シュート力の強化 ②反発力
シュート力の強化 ③ボールを当てる場所

Private Football offers one-on-one private soccer lessons for elementary through high school students (5-18 years old). Our professional coaches provide individualized lessons in Tokyo and other parts of the Kanto area.