Professional soccer players like Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are effective largely because of their ability to turn on a dime and change direction quickly. They are praised for their natural talent and ability, but their performances on the field are often a product of their hard work during training.
Soccer players make great use of short, quick movements with their feet. Therefore, speed and agility are invaluable to a soccer player's set of skills. Working on these soccer skills using a variety of drills will lead to an overall improvement in your game.
Cone drills are a useful training exercise for soccer players desiring to improve speed and agility. Maximize your results from cone drill exercises by maintaining your form throughout, keeping your body balanced, and staying on the balls of your feet. These soccer drills are meant to mimic body position for dynamic movements during a game.
Space 10 cones out evenly in a line and perform various drills around or over the cones including (but not limited to) shuffling, one-foot hops, and high knees. The key to improvement is allowing the body to become accustomed to the movement through repetition, creating muscle memory.
Muscle memory involves your muscles adapting to certain movements that may feel foreign at first. With enough repetition, these movements become second nature and can be performed effortlessly during a game.
Weight Training and Plyometrics
Weight training and plyometrics are also useful additions to a soccer training program. While very young soccer players should avoid weight training, there are a number of exercises that will increase explosiveness in more developed players.
Exercises such as squats and leg press are important for soccer players as they increase leg strength and toughen the leg muscles used in dynamic movements. Core workouts are also essential for improving overall agility as core strength is directly related to balance and weight distribution. Upper body workouts should not be overlooked, since upper body movements are also important for dynamic movement. Plyometric exercises make use of quick explosive movements in order to develop muscles used to improve speed. A few examples of good plyometric exercises are running stairs, hurdle hops, depth jumps (jumping off a platform and immediately jumping upon impact), and standing long jumps.
These drills and exercises can be easily performed outside of team soccer practices. However, it is often beneficial to have the guidance of an experienced coach to ensure proper form. For other great tips and resources to improve your game, check out the rest of our soccer articles.
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