Soccer Player Calves: Why, What For, and Why Not?

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The calves are the biggest muscles of the lower leg, and they are responsible for running.  As soccer is about running, kicking, more running, and exercising the calves, it seems necessary to have well-developed muscles to succeed.

But there is more to calves than wearing long socks. A player needs them for sprinting, jumping, and injury prevention. All this makes them the most important muscles in the body of a soccer pro. Let’s check it out.

Does Playing Soccer Make Your Legs Bigger?

Of course. Soccer, as a sport, is all about calves if you don’t count playing the ball. Take a look at the lower leg of soccer pros.

They are so developed that they can kick the ball hundreds of times during a game. On top of that, they got to aim the ball right where they want it to go. Harder than it sounds, for sure.

Kicking the ball

All day long: with your left foot, with your right foot, again and again. That’s the life of a soccer player. But when you think about it, it’s mostly the quads that work there.

Chances are, it’s the balancing on the other leg that counts more. You try it. Not so easy. And here again, it’s the calves that keep the lower foot in shape, Then the player has stability, and he can kick that ball. Wham!


No doubt about it, Sprinting is the core of soccer, as well as a huge number of training plans. Better yet, look up to Cristiano, arguably one of the best players in the world.

Brief and powerful runs are his secret. They are the core of his training. If everything else was that straightforward.


It takes the whole leg to jump, but the calves in the lower leg and the quads of the upper seem to do most of the work. Look at it this way. Jumping is like trying to run upward. So no wonder calves are important for it.

Are Calves Important for Soccer?

Definitely. The calves are responsible for running really fast, and isn’t that what makes you win the ball and score goals? In addition, you need to change direction rapidly, which puts huge stress on your ankles.

Wow. No wonder that the calves make sure the entire lower leg is stable, ankle-wise. Another reason they are so important.

Change of Direction

Our leg muscles do both balance and movement, and these two happen at the same time when you change direction. But the low center of gravity is the most coveted ability, football-wise.

Take a look at Messi and Maradona before him. They are short and have big legs. That’s why Messi is so good. It makes him unbeatable, long-spindly-leg-wise.

Leg Durability

When running around is a job, you take it seriously. But not everything is as it seems. Arsen Wenger of Arsenal thought along these lines when he developed his 90-minute training sessions.

The rule was that nobody was allowed to train longer than what a standard soccer match lasted, no overtime included. Guess what?  It worked for them so well, they became the best in the history of English soccer. No wonder.


Up and down you go, make your legs work. In soccer, you jump during corners, free kicks, goal kicks, goal celebrations, and any time you feel jumpy.

Although the entire leg works when you jump, you need those calves to provide strength. And without it, it’s missed goal opportunities and, eventually, lost games. So, let’s start jumping.

What Is the Optimal Way to Get Leg Muscle Mass?

The short answer – be like Cristiano. But there’s an easier way: work out. Doing squats, calf raises, and an occasional deadlift is what most trainers suggest, not just the soccer-focused ones. 

Next time you’re at the gym, take a look at some of the workouts. You’ll see that even gymnastic trainers see calves as some of the most important muscles in the body.


It’s like jumping, but very slowly, and what’s the rush, anyway? The key to squats is the proper form, or so the trainers say. Up and down you go, keeping your foot firmly on the ground and your back straight.

That’s all you need to do. As a result, you develop all kinds of muscles, not just glutes and hams. If you’ve done squats yourself, you know they don’t really engage calves that much. But they still do a lot of balancing work, and that’s really important for your game

Calf Raises

It’s like standing up on tiptoes and then going back on the sole, By far the easiest exercise, it combines balancing and targets calves, laser-beam-wise.

No other muscles are really engaged in this exercise, so trainers use it to fine-tune their programs. Something so simple can make a big difference.


Soccer players have huge legs and tiny arms, so can they really do deadlifts? They have to in order to balance out muscle development. Most soccer training focuses on the legs, so trainers include gym exercises. Besides, deadlifts engage the muscles in our back. Calves play the balancing role here, but it’s a big test for them.

The Calves Are Critical to Running

They’re the key because, well, the toes don’t have any muscles. You see, the toes are controlled by the muscles in the lower leg, which help us maintain balance. T

The calves, on the other hand, are about big-time work like walking and, finally, running. That’s why calves are so important and, not entirely by chance, why soccer player calves are so developed. 

Calves Control the Feet

They’re the main muscles that make our feet push the ground away. For soccer big-timers and couch potatoes alike, calves take care of everything that happens below the knee.

Besides, isn’t walking and running compared to controlled falling? We put one leg after another, guessing where to push ourselves best. It is the calves’ territory, and without them, it’s pain territory.

Strong Calves Are a Part of Injury Prevention

Strong calves help to prevent injuries. Because, they keep everything together,  and two, they are strong enough to lift our whole body up. This is the superpower of calves – they protect us from sprains and strains.

Whenever there is a malicious hole in the ground looking for an unwary ankle to put it in trouble, there they will be. They’ll hold the ankle together and make a mockery out of the vicious curbs and cruel potholes. So, don’t neglect those calves.

Exercises to Strengthen Calves

Sprinting, jumping, and calf raises are the foundation of good calves. Pro soccer players have to keep their eye on their calves during training. They have to play so many games in a year that it would be impossible to avoid injuries without strong calves.

So, what do they do? They do all kinds of exercises like squats and deadlifts so that their calves are not the only developed muscle in their body.


Our legs and feet have a big job of carrying us around, and they do it without having any muscles in the toes. Soccer players like Messi and Maradona are on another level from the rest of us spindly-legged ones, maneuver-wise.

And a lot of it comes down to their calves, the big muscles in the lower leg. They have a superpower – they keep the lower leg together, and they’re super-strong.  Healthy calves protect us from injuries and make us go fast, and that’s what makes a good soccer player.

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