Soccer Conditioning Drills for Defense
Total body soccer conditioning starts in the core and builds speed and agility as well as reflexes. In the video below, the Kbands trainers take viewers through a series of simple moves that can be added to any program of adult or youth soccer defensive drills. These soccer conditioning drills are designed to help soccer players work on back pedal speed and technique as well open up the hips to gain explosive speed during sprints.
The set up and execution of these conditioning drills will be very simple, but as with most of the drills in this series, soccer players will get out what they put in. In other words, if players dig deep and coaches pay close attention to motivation, commitment, and follow through, these drills will bring strong results on the field and will take any game to the next level.
Adult and Youth Soccer Defensive Drills: Setting Up the Drill
The set up for this soccer conditioning drill will involve nothing but a little space on the field, a set of Kbands resistance training bands for each player, and five agility cones. The cones will be placed in the ground in a row about three yards apart. After all the players have attached the Kbands straps around the upper legs and clipped on the resistance band with the appropriate level of tension, they can warm up briefly before the drill in order to maximize the benefits of the session.
Adult and Youth Soccer Defensive Drills: Executing the Drill
When ready, the soccer player will begin the drill by standing beside the first cone in the line, either on the right side or the left. At each repetition of the drill, the player should alternate sides for balance. When the starting signal is given, the player will move backwards in a side-to-side shuffling motion between the first and second cone, then the second and third, and so on. The soccer player will weave in and out down the line of cones, moving backwards, until he reaches the final cone. At that point, the shoulder will drop back, the player will pivot 180 degrees, and the final move of the drill will be a straightaway sprint away from the line of cones.
Each stage of the move is important, and will help the soccer player build strength in the hip flexors and power in the backpedal. But the most important moment in this conditioning drill will be the moment when the player drops the backpedal and breaks into the sprint. Players can envision being bypassed by an attacking opponent at this moment. As soon as the bypass happens, the player will need to abandon the shuffle and sprint toward the goal in order to take the defensive game closer to the net.
Getting burned by an opponent can sometimes lead to a momentary pause as a player changes gears and rotates the body in a new direction. This drill can help a soccer player move past the pause, switch directions quickly, and enter the dig phase in the sprint toward the net. As soccer players complete this drill, they should focus on dropping the shoulder back for the turn and then digging into the sprint by bringing the knee up toward the chest against the resistance of the bands. The arms should engage immediately as well. Ideally, the player will have the hip strength and reflexes to drop the shoulder, pivot, dig, raise the knee and begin the sprint all in one smooth, fast, coordinated motion.
Soccer coaches should watch carefully as players move through the entire drill, but the change of direction will require the closest attention. Coaches should look for small elements of technique that may be holding players back and should make sure players recover from the backward shuffle and begin the dig phase of the sprint will no loss of momentum or energy.
Conditioning Drills: Resisted Versus Unresisted
Soccer players can complete these drills entirely resisted if they choose, but the point at which a player transfers from resisted sets to unresisted sets will depend on the player’s level of strength and endurance. Players should ideally reach a point at which they are strong enough to complete eight reps in a row before they remove unclip the resistance bands from the straps.
Once players reach this point, they can remove the bands after eight reps and then complete a series of conditioning drills with a freer range of motion. A neurological sensation of extreme lightness will occur that will last for several minutes after the bands are removed, and while this sensation is in effect, players should take advantage of it to increase the speed of their footwork.
Players and coaches can observe in the video how the soccer player moves with greater speed and ease after the bands are removed, but he needs to work a little harder to stay under control, especially on the tight turns around the line of agility cones. Ideally this entire drill should involve eight to twelve reps total, eight or nine of those with resistance the last few without. If players aren’t yet strong enough to complete eight resisted rounds, they can remove the bands earlier in the process but should complete at least eight total reps.
Adult and Youth Soccer Defensive Drills: Final Notes
The goal of these drills will be focused on elevating a player’s speed and reflexes on the defense. So again, soccer coaches should stay tuned in to each player’s technique and progress as the drills become part of a regular training program. As a your soccer training program expands and player capabilities improve, visit the soccer section in the training tab above for more drills and exercises that can build both offensive and defensive skills. The website provides a sport-specific training section dedicated entirely to soccer, in which the Kbands Trainers offer tips that can help both soccer players and soccer coaches gain success on the field.
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