How do Calves Help in Soccer?

Soccer players tend to have large leg muscles due to the nature of the sport. It’s very important to have strong quads, hamstrings, and calves to be able to get the best out of your body.

So, basically, it’s a must-know how leg muscles can help you if you’re a soccer player, and today we’ll be mainly talking about calves and their importance.

Soccer Players In Action - leg muscles and calves

Are Calves Important for Soccer?

Definitely, calf muscles are some of the most important parts of your body when it comes to soccer functionality. If you’re trying to improve your game, then training your calves just might get you there.

You will notice large calf muscles on players that are crossing and shooting all the time.

One of the best examples out there is Xherdan Shaqiri, his calves are one of the largest in world soccer, and yes, he has a pretty powerful strike as well.

There are lots of important things that calf muscles help you within soccer, but they mostly influence:

Ronaldo
  • Quick Change of Direction
  • Leg Durability
  • Jumping

Change of Direction

If you’re a soccer player, you’ll want to have a quick change of direction. All positions in soccer can benefit from being able to do this properly.

Even goalkeepers can get something useful out of this if someone misplaces a pass to them and they need to reposition quickly. 

Leg Durability

Calves are usually the place where you’ll notice fatigue first while playing soccer. That’s why functionally strong calf muscles are going to improve your durability throughout the game. 

You’re usually going to see players stretching their calves out in extra time, which is when it gets a bit tougher for the players.

However, some players that are coming back from an injury might not be fully fit yet and will experience leg cramps ever quicker than that.

Jumping

Jumping isn’t crucial for all types of players, but it’s an excellent skill to have in most positions.

The traditional striker in soccer will want to have the excellent jumping ability along with their significant height to be able to get good heading opportunities within the box. 

Centerbacks will deal with strikers in most of the aerial battles and will benefit from high-jumping just as much as them.

Does Playing Soccer Make Your Legs Bigger?

A short answer for a question like this is yes, playing soccer can make your legs bigger, but is it really optimal for gaining muscle?

You can’t really gain mass muscle from playing soccer since it is an aerobic sport, although, it will gain you some muscle.

We should also mention what are fundamental moves you do in soccer that can gain you muscle:

  • Kicking the ball
  • Sprinting
  • Jumping

Kicking the ball

This is pretty much the most important thing in soccer. Passing, shooting, crossing, you name it, kicking the ball is the one thing you want to do again and again to gain leg muscles.

Pretty much all leg muscles are affected by kicking the ball, quads, calves, glutes, are just some of them, and they’re all very important if you want to up your game.

Having a strong core is also important for shooting power, so don’t forget to do those ab exercises that you planned on doing.

Sprinting

Sprinting will pretty much target the same muscles as kicking the ball, just not in the same intensity.

If you’re sprinting downhill, you’re going to target your quads more than your hamstrings, while going uphill will do the reverse.

While kicking the ball will focus more on your core and quads, sprinting will drain out your calf muscles.

Jumping

Just like kicking the ball and sprinting, jumping will affect the leg muscles and core. However, it’s the type of jumping you’d want to be doing to target a specific area.

Jumping with extended legs will target your calf muscles a lot. This type of jumping is usually of small amplitude but targets your Achilles and calves perfectly.

While jumping out of a squat position will focus on your quads way more. Adding weights on your legs and jumping on a high box can increase the difficulty by a lot.

What is the optimal way to get leg muscle mass?

Getting lots of leg muscle mass can be counterproductive while playing soccer, but doing so in the right proportion will help you in improving your game massively.

Let’s mention some of the top exercises for gaining muscle mass:

  • Squats
  • Calf Raises
  • Deadlift

Squats

Squats are definitely the most optimal exercise when it comes to leg muscles. If you’re planning to improve leg muscles all-around, squats are what you need.

Squats will target pretty much every leg muscle group, although they will focus on quads and glutes the most. There are lots of variations regarding squats.

Adding weight is always a good thing if you can handle it, but don’t overdo it since it can slow down your leg movement which won’t help you at all.

Keeping your legs straight will focus more on the quads while pointing the fingers a little bit to the outside can target your glutes more.

Calf Raises

Calf Raises are the exercise you want to try out if you want your calf muscles to grow, pretty much self-explanatory.

Some of the variations with Calf Raises would be to add weights, doing them on one leg, and if you really want to make it difficult, you can try doing small jumps.

Deadlift

The hamstring and lower back are the muscle groups that are being targeted by deadlift exercises. Keep in mind that a good warm-up of those muscles will prevent injury.

You don’t want to put more weight than you have to because it can be risky.

My favorite variation of the deadlift exercise is the Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift.

This exercise will burn your hamstrings but also focus a lot on the core and the balance of your body, which is essential in soccer.

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