Do Soccer Players Need a Strong Upper Body? 

Do Soccer Players Need a Strong Upper Body? 

Soccer is a sport that primarily uses the lower body, with players relying on their legs for running, jumping, and kicking. However, having a strong upper body can provide a range of benefits for soccer players.

You don’t need to bench press 350 lbs., but having a strong upper body can help you generate more power and control in things like shielding a defender or aerial duels.

Additionally, a strong upper body can help you maintain balance and stability, which is crucial for quick changes of direction and sudden stops and starts.

In this article, we’ll explain why it’s important to strengthen your entire body rather than just focus on your lower body.

Importance of Upper Body Strength in Soccer

Here are a few reasons why upper body strength is important for soccer players:

1. Balance and Stability

A strong upper body provides balance and stability to soccer players.

When you’re running and changing direction on the field, your upper body helps you maintain your balance and keep your center of gravity in check.

A weak upper body can cause you to lose balance and fall, which can result in injuries.

2. Power and Speed

A strong upper body also helps soccer players generate more power and speed.

When you’re shooting, passing, or heading the ball, your upper body muscles play a significant role in generating the force required to execute these actions.

A weak upper body can limit your ability to generate power and speed. This can leave your legs trying to compensate which rarely results in an effective shot or pass.

3. Injury Prevention

Finally, having a strong upper body can help prevent injuries.

Soccer players are at risk of various upper body injuries, such as shoulder dislocations, rotator cuff tears, and sprains.

A strong upper body can help mitigate these injuries by providing support and stability to the joints and muscles.

Direct Role of Upper Body in Ball Control

Shielding the Ball

When you are shielding the ball from an opponent, a strong upper body can help you maintain your balance and keep the ball away from your opponent.

By using your arms to create space between you and the defender, you can control the ball and move it in the direction you want.


During a throw-in, a strong upper body can help you throw the ball further and with more accuracy and strength.

By using your shoulders and arms to generate more power, you can launch the ball further down the field.

Additionally, a strong upper body can help you maintain your balance and avoid falling over the sideline.

Upper Body Strength and Physical Duels in Soccer

When it comes to soccer, 50/50 balls are an inevitable part of the game.

Whether it’s jostling for position during a corner kick or fighting for possession of the ball, having a strong upper body can make a big difference in these situations.

One of the primary benefits of having a strong upper body is the ability to hold off opponents. If you’re trying to shield the ball from an opponent, having the strength to keep them at bay can be the difference between retaining possession and losing the ball.

Similarly, if you’re trying to win a header or fight for position during a set piece, having a strong upper body can give you an advantage.

It’s important to remember that physical attributes are only one piece of the puzzle. Endurance, speed, agility, and technical ability are all important as well, and should not be overlooked.

Soccer Training Techniques for Upper Body Strength

Resistance Training

Resistance training is an essential component of building upper body strength.

This type of training involves using weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises to challenge your muscles and increase their strength.

Here are some effective resistance training exercises for building upper body strength:

  • Bench press
  • Shoulder press
  • Pull-ups
  • Rows
  • Dumbbell flyes
  • Push-ups (ideal for players not ready for weight training)

It’s important to note that you should start with a weight that you can comfortably handle and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.

Not sure if you are ready to lift weights? Read our article ‘When Should Soccer Players Start Lifting?

Core Exercises for Soccer

In addition to resistance training, core stability exercises can also help improve upper body strength.

Your core muscles, which include your abs, back, and hips, play an important role in stabilizing your body and transferring force from your legs to your upper body.

Here are some effective core stability exercises for building upper body strength:

  • Plank
  • Russian twists
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Dead bugs
  • Side planks

By incorporating resistance training and core stability exercises into your soccer training routine, you can develop a stronger upper body that will help you perform at your best on the field.


In conclusion, while having a strong upper body may seem unnecessary for a soccer player, it does provide its advantages.

As we have discussed in this article, soccer is a sport that relies heavily on lower body strength, speed, agility, and endurance. However, having a strong upper body can prevent injury and be advantageous while shielding defenders.

Some other benefits of having a strong upper body for soccer players include:

  • Improved posture and balance, which can help reduce the risk of injuries and improve overall performance on the field.
  • Increased upper body strength can also help players with their ball control, particularly when it comes to shielding the ball from opponents.
  • Upper body strength can also be helpful for players who need to jump or head the ball, as it can provide them with more power and control.

Soccer players should aim for a balanced training program that includes both upper and lower body exercises, as well as cardiovascular training and flexibility work.

Ultimately, soccer players should have a good balance between body work and skill work. Combined with a strong mentality, your game will improve dramatically!

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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