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6 soccer agility drills that boost quickness and explosiveness

Jun 20, 2023
8 mins read
6 soccer agility drills that boost quickness and explosiveness
6 soccer agility drills that boost quickness and explosiveness

Soccer agility drills are centered on the fact that soccer is not a unidirectional sport. This game involves changing direction multiple times throughout the match.

Another important aspect to bear in mind is that soccer comprises races throughout the two 45-minute sessions. There are a few times when you’ll need to throttle up and sprint from one end of the field to the other. But most of the races in the match are significantly shorter- around 10-20 yards. This means you need to be highly explosive and quick enough to get to the ball first. This is where soccer speed and agility drills become vital in your training sessions.

What is Agility in Soccer?

The dictionary definition of agility is the ability to move one’s body quickly and easily in response to stimuli. Agility in soccer also shares in this definition. But it emphasizes the ability to change direction suddenly. For the most part, the game of soccer has been all about speed and power. However, because the modern soccer game is characterized by quick direction changes and fast movements, the players need to be more agile than ever before.

Change of direction drills should combine trainable physical qualities like coordination, balance, strength, and power. The reason is simple: if you have to change direction to get to the ball before your opponent, you also need to adjust your balance and shooting power to contact the ball at its sweetest spot.

Soccer Agility Drills and Muscles

When learning how to increase speed and agility for soccer, you should consider that soccer is very demanding. It doesn’t require a particular group of muscles only. Instead, playing soccer involves pretty much every muscle fiber in your body.

Whether you’re trying to win a header, arrive into the box first, or save the ball, you’ll need to employ different muscles at lightning speed to make the necessary twists and turns. Consequently, your agility workouts for soccer need to be training your entire musculature. This will make your muscle fibers stronger and more explosive, making you a fast and agile player.

How to Improve Your Agility in Soccer

You’ll realize that most of the soccer speed and agility drills in this list don’t require much room. This is an advantage to those who may not have easy access to full-size pitches and training centers.

1. Plyometric Hurdle Rebounds

Plyometric exercises are also known as jump training. These are powerful aerobic exercises that athletes across all sports disciplines rely on to build agility, strength, and speed. There are different versions of plyometric workouts. But these hurdles exercises are among the best speed and agility training drills for soccer when building power and improving coordination and jumping ability.

How to Set Up

  • Arrange 5 agility hurdles 3-5 feet apart.
  • This soccer agility training can be done using hurdles of any size. Depending on your fitness level and experience, you may start with mini-hurdles and work your way up to waist-level hurdles.

How to Execute

  1. With your feet hip-width apart, jump upward and forward to clear the first hurdle. Be sure to land on your two feet.
  2. Upon landing, jump off the toes, using your arms to generate lift, and jump again to clear all the 5 hurdles.
  3. Repeat three to five times to make a set. Take a 1-2 minute rest and complete 2 more sets.

You can increase the intensity of this drill by increasing the distance between the hurdles. As you improve, you may also try to complete the jumps using only one foot (right foot and then left foot).

2. Acceleration and Deceleration Shuttles

As a game full of frequent short bursts, soccer requires excellent acceleration and deceleration skills. A good player needs to work on these qualities to beat the opponent. Being able to accelerate fast means that your opponents have less time to react. On the other hand, the ability to decelerate rapidly allows you to create enough space from the opposing player. This space allows you to receive a pass, change direction, and execute successful moves.

How to Set Up

  • These soccer sprint drills require 6 training cones.
  • Place 2 cones half a meter apart to create a gate.
  • From gate 1, take 5 steps in a straight line and place a single cone.
  • Take another 5 steps and set up another single cone.
  • Take 5 final steps and use two cones to make another gate (gate 2) directly opposite the first gate.

How to Execute

  1. Stand at gate 1 with one foot forward and your knees slightly bent to create a low center of gravity.
  2. Sprint rapidly and drive towards the first cone. Upon reaching the first cone, decelerate and backpedal around it from left to right.
  3. After going around the first cone, sprint to the second cone and go around it from left to right and then speed through the final gate.
  4. After going through gate 2, turn around and repeat the steps above, heading towards gate 1. On your way back, alternate the direction when going around the cones to balance both feet.
  5. Make 3 repetitions (back and forth) to complete one set. Rest for 2 minutes

3. Lateral Speed Training (Agility Ladder Drills Soccer)

There are various ways of using the speed ladder, as you'll find out in these agility ladder drills soccer workouts. Lateral speed training is one of the best exercises to improve speed for soccer.

One thing with the game of soccer is that you never know what will happen to the ball. It could deflect or be hit in any direction around the pitch. Lateral quickness (rapid side-by-side movement) coupled with lateral strength enhances your ability to spring, stop, and stabilize in any direction while maintaining speed and balance. This is a good soccer speed training exercise for improving knee and ankle stability too.

How to Set Up

  • Spread your portable soccer training speed and agility ladder on a flat surface.

How to Execute

  1. You'll start by lining up parallel to the ladder.
  2. Bending your knee slightly to lower your center of gravity, lift your inside foot, and put it inside the first rung of the ladder.
  3. As soon as your inside foot lands in the first box, lift your outside foot to put it into that same box.
  4. Repeat this to complete all the rungs making sure to land on the feet' balls. Also, ensure that you touch each rung of the ladder with both feet.
  5. Move back and forth the ladder making sure to alternate from right to left and left to right.
  6. Repeat 3 times to make one set.

4. Agility Course

The agility course combines a couple of soccer speed drills into one massive workout session. This speed agility and quickness training for soccer involves running, jumping, backpedaling, and shuffling around several obstacles. The complexity of this activity packs multiple benefits for soccer players of all levels. Besides increasing their quickness, it also improves footwork, body control, and balance.

How to Set Up

  • This soccer drill requires at least 7 cones, 4 hurdles, and 4 training sticks. You can use cones if training sticks aren't available.
  • Set up one cone to form the starting point and another cone 90 degrees to your right and 10 wide steps away to be the finishing point.
  • From the starting point, count 5 wide steps and position the first hurdle. Position the remaining hurdles leaving a distance of 5 feet (1.5 meters) between them.
  • From the fourth hurdle, count 5 wide steps and start positioning the sticks. After the first stick, turn 45 degrees to your left and count 5 wide steps to position the second stick. From the second stick, turn 45 degrees to your right and count 5 steps to position the third stick. Repeat this to position the fourth stick 45 degrees and 5 steps from the third stick.
  • From the fourth stick, turn 90 degrees and count 10 wide steps to position Cone 1 in the direction of the finishing cone. From this cone, turn 45 degrees and count 5 steps to your right, and position Cone 2. From the second cone, turn 45 degrees again and count 5 steps to position Cone 3. From the 3rd cone, count 3 steps straight ahead and position the Cone. Next, turn 45 degrees to your right and count 5 steps to position Cone 5.

How to Execute

  1. The players line up by the starting cone.
  2. The first player sprints forward to jump over the hurdles with both feet in quick successions and with explosiveness.
  3. From the hurdles, the player runs towards the sticks and shuffles around them. The players should shuffle through the sticks fast and with knees bent.
  4. After the sticks, the player sprints towards the series of cones. From Cone 1, the player should sprint towards Cone 3 at max speed before backpedaling towards Cone 2. Next, he shuttles straight towards Cone 5 and then backpedals to Cone 4. From Cone 4, open up and run to finish the activity.
  5. Walk to join the starting line.

Note that the second player in line can start the activity as soon as the first player is done jumping over the hurdles.

5. Tuck Jumps

This is another great workout activity worth including in your team's quickness training drills. Tuck jumps are plyometric in that they involve exerting maximum force from your muscles to jump vertically.

Like other plyometric jumps, tuck jumps work most of your core and lower body muscles. This full-body exercise is done by athletes as a way of developing bilateral power output. This is the ability to move explosively on both feet without losing power and coordination. Athletes who have perfected tuck jumping cannot only jump high, but it's also a given that they are fast and can turn on a dime.

How to Execute

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Get into a quarter-squat by bending your hips and knees.
  3. From this universal athletic stance, jump straight up with maximum explosive force. As you spring up, pull your knees upward to tuck them under your chest midair so that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  4. While descending, straighten up your legs by extending your knees and land on the balls of your feet to buffer you from the impact.
  5. Repeat the jump 10 times to make 1 set. Complete 3 sets with a 30-second rest between the sets.

6. Ladder Work

You should not look past this activity if you're looking for soccer footwork drills without a ball. While it's generally simple, it can be used by players and athletes of all ages to improve their coordination, agility, footwork, and balance.

In this soccer agility drill, the players move across the rungs of the agility ladder completing different patterns that are focused on sharpening their motor abilities.

How to Set Up

  • You'll need one portable agility ladder for every 10 players. You may want more than 1 ladder, depending on the number of players.
  • The players should form a line behind the ladder.

How to Execute

  1. The first player moves across the ladder and completes the pattern instructed by the coach/trainer. The trainer should have several moves in mind, such as two feet linear hops, hop-scotch, and icky shuffle. The challenges can also be as simple as moving through the ladder with one foot in each box or two feet in each box.
  2. After going through all the rungs, the player walks to join the line again.
  3. The coach/trainer should vary the challenges and advise the players to repeat 2-4 times until they perfect the moves.
  4. The coach decides on how long the activity goes on based on the difficulty level. We recommend 8-12 minutes per session.

Blazepod is taking modern soccer agility and sprint drills a notch higher with its coaster-sized pods and Smartphone App. These pods are light-based and function like coach cues making it possible to train without a trainer. Thanks to their programmability, you can set them to take you through a training course. You can also use them as a competitive fitness device to track your speed and reaction times.