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Quick Feet for Soccer-Speed Skills that will dramatically improve Soccer Speed

by  Lee Taft

Soccer is definitely a sport that comprises many different athletic physical skills. A good soccer player must be able to accelerate quickly in all directions, decelerate from all directions, and quickly re-accelerate once again. They must have great balance and body awareness to control the ball and avoid defenders. A good soccer player must have great agility at one moment and lasting endurance the next. The key is to fine tune these physical skills to make a complete player.

Here are some great skills and exercises that will improve the physical abilities of a soccer player. Keep in mind that these skills must be adjusted to meet the abilities and needs of each athlete.

Skill #1 Soccer ball slalom

This can be done with soccer balls or cones if you don’t have soccer balls. Place each ball/cone  20-24 inches apart in a straight line. Start at the first ball with your right foot on the top of the ball and the left to the side. Quickly jump over the ball so the left foot is now on top and the right is planted to the outside. The key is to be soft with the foot on the ball so it doesn’t move. Repeat this slalom pattern for the length of 8 to 10 soccer balls/cones and finish with a 10 yard sprint. • Younger athletes will need to be careful of putting too much weight on the ball with the top foot. Too much weight on the ball can cause loss of balance. • Keep the shoulders over the ball and try not to sway your shoulders outside your foot base. • Perform 3-6 reps and 1-2 sets

Skill #2 Crossover and change directions

 I have always felt that the crossover move is the king of athletic speed skills. Soccer players can become such great defenders if they become good at the crossover. To start this drill simply have the athlete face the coach so they can travel sideways. On the command “go” the athlete will begin performing the crossover when the coach claps or blows the whistle the athletes will quickly change directions and perform the crossover the other way. When the coach yells “turn and go” the athlete will hip turn and sprint away from the coach for 10 yards. • Be sure to keep the shoulders oriented toward the coach during the crossover, only the hips and legs should be turned. • The athlete should perform the hip turn equally to each side. • Perform 3-6 reps and 1-2 sets

Skill #3 Fake dribble and sprint

This drill is great to improve change of direction ability. The athlete will start about 3 yards from the ball. The ball will be out in front and roughly at a 45 degrees angle. The athlete will run toward the ball as if going to push the ball in the direction they are moving, but they will quickly step over the ball and fake the dribble, plant the outside foot (the one the just jump over the ball with), tap the top of the ball with the inside foot and then sprint at a 45 degree angle the opposite way. So basically fake to the right and sprint to the left. This drill will teach the athlete to plant quickly, change direction and be deceptive with the ball. This can be done by dribbling the ball in the new direction or by sprinting without the ball- it depends of the skill focus. Sprint with or without the ball for 10 yards. • When approaching the ball, sell the fake and push the ball forward with the outside part of the front foot, and then step over the ball. • Don’t allow the shoulder to sway and cause a delayed change of direction • Perform 3-4 reps each side and 1-2 sets

Skill #4 Single leg acceleration starts

Have the athlete start in any number of single leg stances. Examples are; stand on one knee facing forward, facing sideways, facing backwards, or down in a one-knee kneeling position. There are many other one-leg dominant stances you can use. Upon the signal “go” the athlete will push off by quickly adjusting the feet to apply greater force production down and back into the ground. The goal is to get moving as fast as possible and into an acceleration lean for 10 yards. • When balancing on one foot, the opposite foot will quickly apply force into the ground to push the athlete forward. • If the athlete is standing sideways on the back leg, the back leg will reposition itself to be the  push off leg, not the front leg. • Perform 5-6 different drills for 2 sets

Drill #5 Soccer ball shuttle

This drill has been perfumed many different ways and requires great speed endurance. Place 8 soccer balls 10 yards away from the starting line. The athlete must run 10 yards and dribble the ball back under control and stop it once the start line is crossed. Perform this for all 8 soccer  balls as fast as possible. • The athlete must work on quick acceleration and change of direction even while fatigued. • Be sure to stop the ball from moving once the start line is crossed. The ball cannot be just kicked past the line. • Perform 2-4 sets of this drill. Allow 2-4 minutes recovery Above are 5 basic but highly effective drills that will improve upon the physical skills that a soccer player needs. Combine this with continued ball skills and learning the game of soccer  and you will have a great soccer player on your hands.

Work smart and have fun!

Lee Taft