Soccer Speed & Agility Training
Just about every movement skill imaginable is needed to become a great soccer player. Although all of these skills are no doubt used during most soccer practices and clinics, there are ways that a targeted sports training program can further enhance what team coaches already focus on.
The finer points of multi-directional agility, speed and quickness skills can be honed and made more efficient with specific skill work. Cutting, sprinting, and reaction speed are all trainable skills that hard-working players can build to even higher levels with the desire to improve, and the right coaching.
Specific areas a soccer player should focus on improving are:
- The ability to accelerate from a jogging or stopped position up to top speed
- The ability to run at top speed effieciently
- The ability to move your feet in tight spaces
- The ability to make sharp cuts
- The ability to move your hips to turn from forward motion to backward motion most efficiently
- The ability to stop fast and under control to avoid non-contact injuries
Once the underlying movement techniques are refined and become automatic, these same skills can be practiced with a soccer ball to gain even more sport specificity. Adding a ball should not come during the learning stages, it is more for those who have mastered great footwork fundamentals.
Soccer Strength Training
Although gaining large amounts of muscle mass would be counterproductive, soccer players can gain quite a bit from getting stronger and more powerful through a sound weight training program.
We’ve worked with a large number of soccer players, from youth leagues up to the pros, and in every case adding strength and power development to that player’s training regimen had a noticeably positive impact on their performance.
A solid base of 1 leg and upper body strength, plus core stability, should be your primary areas of emphasis for soccer training. From there, Olympic lifting, medicine ball work, and plyometrics should be layered on top of this to build explosive power for enhanced kicking, sprinting, and cutting.
Core stability, in particular, is a key developmental need. It will not only add power to all your athletic skills, but it is also a great injury preventer and helps act against early fatiuge by improving posture. High level core drills work well for soccer players.
As high levels of athleticism are a must for success in the sport, other training concepts should also be sprinkled into the exercise routine. Balance and coordination can be trained, and should be used often. Advanced concepts, such as foot-eye coordination, sports vision drills, and even strength endurance work are also useful additions to your workouts when applied with challenging progressions.
Conditioning For Soccer
There are two parts to getting in peak condition for any sport:
- Maximize your aerobic base
- Maximize your anaerobic potential
For all sports developing the aerobic base is the same – you need to do steady state work for relatively long periods of time (20 minutes or more). This will help you to recover faster from the demands of your sport, and it increases your potential to build the next step in your conditioning – the anaerobic phase.
Anaerobic exercise is the type you cannot do for very long periods of time without resting. Think sprints, or any other all-out effort. The way you develop this area is highly dependent on how your sport is played.
For soccer players having a great aerobic base is critical. The anaerobic base should be built by progressively working up to the specific work-rest ratios for your position, age, and level.
Let’s say as an example you are a U16 midfielder and based on either your coach or parents charting your activities in a game they see that you run 20 short sprints (<10 yds), 8 long sprints (>10 yds), and have 10 one-on-one battles in tight space over a 30 minute period. The rest of the time is spent doing light jogging or with no motion.
Anaerobic workouts for this player should progressively work up to these conditions.
At a peak level, you could space out twenty 10 YD sprints, ten more sprints of 20-40 yds in length, and complete 10 agility sets in a 30 minute session, with in between time used for light jogging, walking, or brief rests with water breaks.
Injury Prevention for Soccer
Muscle pulls can quickly turn a promising season into a frustrating one. Proper mobility in all major joints, plus a solid base of conditioning, can help lessen the odds of straining a hamstring, calf, quad or groin.
In particular, athletes should assess and correct any tightness in the hips and IT band (located on the outer part of your thighs). Lack of flexibility in these muscles can lead to weakness in those surrounding them, and also can lead to knee problems. Targeted flexibility training can correct these problems.
Ankle stability exercises can lessen the severity of potential ankle sprains while simultaneously helping ot improve balance. They are highly recommended for soccer players.
Whem combining all of the running necessary to play soccer with a sports training program, overuse problems in the lower legs are likely to spring up occasionally. Hard working players are susceptible to Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and other lower-level injuries.
Minor stress can be relieved with soft tissue massage and targeted stretching. Proper cool down techniques can also help here. More serious conditions will require you to cut back on some part of your activity level, whether it be in training or sport participation. The earlier you address overuse injuries, the faster they will go away. A stubborn approach to try and work through the problem almost always leads to much more serious problems down the line.
Youth Soccer Training Considerations
This is one of the best sports a young athlete can play to help improve overall coordination and athletic ability. To further these goals, there are some sport training ideas that can add an even higher level of growth.
Plenty of movement-based games that add variety and fun to exercise would be helpful, as it will continue to add athleticism while improving fitness, too. It will also stimulate an enjoyment and desire to be active, a crucial psychological gain at this impressionable age.
More specific footwork, plus a base of strength and power development can also be very useful. Getting an early jump on proper age-level core work would be wise for the growth of young soccer players.
Additional fun yet challenging hand-eye and foot-eye coordination, balance, and coordination training are also useful for younger players to round out their athletic development.
Soccer Training at Power Source
Central Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire soccer players can train with us in any of our elite programs. We’ll tailor your training specifically to target your greatest areas of strength and power needs, as well as help protect you from any potential injury risks, in our Group Personal Training Program.
Our Speed & Agility Classes are designed to enhance the sprint and agility technique through expert coaching, video analysis, sprint treadmills, and a handful of other tools.
At certain times of year we also run week-long Speed Clinics, and are open to working with teams and organizations to set up a private clinic just for your players. Feel free to contact us at any time to inquire about training for an individual athlete, or private clinic/team training options.