Soccer Practice: Lateral Speed and Jump Height
Soccer heading, lateral shuffle speed, and vertical jump height are three of the most important contributions to success on the soccer field. So the most effective soccer practice drills incorporate elements of each of these moves into a set of exercises that also build general strength, reflexes and endurance.
In the video below, the Kbands trainers demonstrate an efficient three-part soccer practice session that helps players develop general agility while focusing on these three core skills. Soccer players and coaches can follow along with this session and ideally work these moves into a training program at least two to three times per week. This set of soccer practice drills won’t require much in terms of equipment, but each soccer player should begin the session with a set of Kbands resistance bands strapped to the upper legs, and the session will also require a soccer ball and a complete set of thirteen agility cones. Both the agility cones and the Kbands are available for purchase at KbandsTraining.com.
Soccer Practice: Setting Up the Drill
Coaches and players can prepare this set of soccer practice drills by laying down four pairs of cones in a row, side by side. Players will shuffle through each pair, and when they reach the end of the set, they’ll encounter a ninth cone which will form the corner of a right angle in the series. Players will pause at the corner to head the soccer ball, then they’ll move down a line of three more cones and reach the final cone at the end of that line.
These soccer practice drills require no additional preparation, but soccer players should make sure the Kbands are in place around the upper legs, and both the shuffle and vertical jump portions of the drill will be more effective if soccer players take a few minutes to warm up before the drill begins.
Soccer Practice Drills: Soccer Heading
The first opening move of this set of soccer drills will involve heading the ball. After players move through the first set of cones in a shuffling motion, they’ll be heading the ball again. And the final move in the series will involve returning one last pass using the head.
At each of these three pauses to return the ball, soccer players will need to demonstrate agility as they transition from a fast forward motion to a standing position with their full attention focused on the ball. When the pass is sent toward the player, it should be met in the air with a high vertical jump and the ball should connect with the head in an easy, controlled motion. Immediately after returning the ball, the player should refocus complete attention on the course ahead. As always, the key to effective soccer heading will be concentration, control, and coordination.
Soccer Practice Drills: Lateral Shuffle
After the first soccer heading motion, players will turn their attention away from the ball and move through the first set of agility cones, the four pairs of cones arranged in a series. For this portion of the soccer practice drill, the body should stay low to the ground and the feet should move quickly from the left side of the cones to the right, all the way down the line. To maximize speed, players should engage the arms and stay close to the cones at each turn. In other words, players should lead with the inside leg before they begin each drive across the line of cones. At each direction change, the body should stay centered instead of leaning outward away from the cones. This can help improve ball handling skills and increase speed and control for players navigating through heavy traffic on the field.
This drill can help build strength as well as agility and speed, since the added resistance of the Kbands will place pressure on the muscles of the hamstrings, quads and hip flexors. But to make the most of the bands, soccer players should stay conscious of the tension and not allow the bands to reduce the full range of motion in the legs. As long as soccer players work against this tension, the legs will stay strong, the heart rate will stay elevated, and the temporary sensation of lightness will be enhanced after the bands are removed. After heading the ball, moving through the lateral shuffle, and heading the ball again at the corner of the L pattern, players will move onto a series of tuck jumps.
Soccer Practice Drills: Vertical Tuck Jumps
For the final stretch of this set of soccer practice drills, players will move down the last line of three single agility cones completing a high vertical tuck jump at each cone. Each jump in the series should be completed quickly, but also with explosive energy and correct technique. Soccer players should work to build a strong stretch reflex, which means that as soon as the body lands on the ground, the momentum should already be in place for the next jump. Each jump should engage the arms and the hips and should involve a full range of motion and 100 percent of the player’s explosive energy. After the line of vertical jumps, the soccer practice drill should end with one last soccer heading motion as the player returns a pass delivered by a partner or coach.
Soccer Practice Drills: Final Notes
Each of these soccer practice drills should be followed by a rest period of at least 60 seconds, and the first few sets with the Kbands in place can be followed by a final set with the bands removed. During the un-resisted sets, soccer players should focus on staying under control and keeping the body centered, which may mean counteracting the natural sensation of lightness that will occur after the bands are taken off. For more information on how the Kbands resistance bands can enhance the strength and agility benefits of any soccer training program, and for additional sets of soccer practice drills like these, visit the training tab above.