Agility and speed are two of the most important attributes of a football player. Especially when it comes to offensive skills like dribbling and going around defenders. But, if you've read any of my football blog posts, you know many football players improve on these attributes the WRONG way.
They hope to become more agile through dribbling drills or agility ladders. The truth is, if you really want to increase your agility and speed, you need to isolate your performance training from working with a ball. And I will share how to do this today.
I am about to present the three phases of agility and speed training for soccer players.
If there is one tool I had to use to elevate a player's agility and speed off the football field, it would be one-sided plyometrics. Many football players lack one-leg stability and can benefit greatly from learning how to speed up, slow down, and build strength on one leg.
Phase one: low-level unilateral plyometry
The first phase of agility and speed training for soccer players is low level one-sided plyometrics. You know them if you've ever read an OTA blog post before. Low-level plyometry is the plyometry that enhances the elasticity and structural integrity of the foot, knee, and hip.
They are great for an athlete to build an explosive base in the lower limb.
I'll share a few below, but before I do, know that I also like to add an element of stabilization in these plyometrics using a tempo. For example, I will add a three second pause in the low position of a one-leg fallback jump to challenge the stability of the athlete.
So what are some low level plyometrics you can perform?
Three low-level plyometries for football players
1. One-legged pogo jumps
- Start on one leg, knee relaxed
- Push through the ankle and rise off the ground as high as you can
- Land softly and move quickly to the next jump
- Try to get as many jumps as possible within the programmed time
2. Single leg side line hops
- Find a line and stand to one side
- Bend the knee slightly and push the hip back
- Keep your center of gravity over the line and jump over the line as quickly as possible
- Try to get as many jumps as possible within the programmed time frame
3. Pleated jump on one leg
- Start on one leg
- Slightly push the hip back and lower it to a quarter squat position
- Explode off the ground and bring both knees to your chest
- Land softly
- I like to use tempos to add an element of stability. Don't hesitate to throw them away
Phase two: production of unilateral forces
After building a foundation for acceleration, deceleration, and stability with one-sided plyometrics, you can focus on forced production. The goal here is to build your lower limbs to become as powerful and explosive as possible.
Building your force-producing capacity is important so that you can quickly and spontaneously change direction in the field.
Imagine, you dribble the ball and a defender challenges you. You need to have the ability to fight your body's momentum to change direction, roll over the ball, and get past the defender.
This is where your force production comes into play.
Three Force Production Plyometry for Soccer Players
1. Wide jumps with one leg
- Start on one leg
- Bend the knee slightly and load the hip
- When you reach the triple extension try to point the hips towards the ceiling at a 45 degree angle
- Land gently on two feet and repeat
2. One-legged jumps
- Stand on one leg in front of a box
- Descend into a quarter squat position
- Explode from the ground
- Land gently on two feet on the box
3. Skaters' jumps
- Start on one leg
- Bend the knee and load the hip
- Explode "up and down" sideways
- Land gently on the opposite leg
- Make sure you "stick" the landing. This means that your hips should not fall on contact with the ground. You should land in the position you started
- Repeat for desired repetitions
Phase three: One-sided change of direction plyometry
Finally, it's time to advance the plyometrics we've been doing by adding an element of direction change. This advancement can be adding a responsive element to your jumps or adding cones to add body control. In any case, the goal here is to switch to plyometrics which is more sport specific and transfer it to the field.
Three plyometric changes of direction for soccer players
1. Cone hops
- Arrange four cones about a foot apart in a straight line
- Start at the end of the cones on one leg
- Your big toe should be aligned with the top of the cones
- Bend the knee slightly and push the hip back
- Jump sideways to align your big toe with each cone
- Once you've reached the last cone, go back
- Repeat on both legs on both sides of the cones
2. Single leg wide at 90
- Set up four "T" shaped cones
- Start at the bottom of the T
- Perform a wide jump on one leg to the central cone of the T
- Then jump sideways at one end
- Repeat both ways on both legs
3. Triple jump on one leg
- Start standing on one leg
- Bend the knees slightly and load the hips
- Explode in a wide jump on one leg
- When you come into contact with the ground, pull up with the glutes to perform another jump
- Pull back with the glutes and perform another jump
- Land gently on two legs
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Understanding what it takes to becoming a successful athlete, is important. Although, there are centaines de milliers of factors that contribute to this, so we have put together our top 5 tips to becoming a successful athlete ! The reason behind this article came from an conversation between myself and a young athlete desperate for success. So, hopefully, this article will help similar athletes asking the same type of questions.
First of all, commitment is defined as the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause ( your team ) or activity ( your sport ). Although, commitment isn’t tangible and you can’t quantify it, the levels of commitment are ever changing. So, thats the task, understand what level you need to reach and smash it !
A locker room full of teammates who are willing to work hard and work together every day at practice, even when not under the coach’s eye, is fondamental to having a successful season. Realise that a good teammate doesn’t try to be the best player on the team; they focus on being the best player for the team, though at times this can be difficult – stick with it !
Spending 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after practice working on your game will give you an advantage over the competition. Some players choose to talk about their day while they slowly lace up their shoes, or duck out of practice as quickly as possible. Realise that being different is just one level away from being great. Twenty minutes of additional practice six days in a row adds up to another full practice during your week. Although its more about quality practice rather then quantity of practice, if you are adding 120 more minutes of practice to your week, make sure its worth while !
to become a successful athlete you need to know Your Teammates. How you work with your teammates when things are going wrong, strongly influences how successful you will be. Also influencing how far you will go as an athlete. So, great teammates are positive, supportive, understanding, forgiving and passionate about helping those around them achieve greatness. Learn about your teammates. Enjoy being around them away from practices and games. Sit with different teammates on road trips. Strike up conversations to learn about what motivates them. The time, effort and energy you put into reaching out to your teammates will come back to you many times over. Being a good teammate isn’t a big thing; it’s a million little things, so get working !
Realise that regardless of whether you are playing in a friendly fixture, a tournament, or been invited to international trials, certainly adopt the motion that people are watching. You are a brand, and you want to be seen in a positive light. You have to become a brand worth investing in, because your worth investing in.
Finally, “When you are not getting better, you are getting worse” is a cliché that may intimidate many athletes. Improve just one rep each day, and push yourself outside your comfort zone. If you are lucky enough to be around a coach who pushes you, holds you accountable, and may even be demanding at times, consider it a gift. Although it may be stressful, they probably see something in you that you don’t yet see in yourself.
Stay positive and believe in the process. No successful athlete ever started out that way. They all found it in themselves to make their bad days better and draw confidence from the days when they did well. You are never as bad as your worst day, and you are never as good as your best. Find it in yourself to stay level-headed and hungry to become more for your coaches, teammates, family and yourself.