Probably the most common question I get from coaches, parents and players has to do with soccer footwork (quick feet).
For some time now soccer speed has been the same as quick feet for a lot of people, but let’s be honest and say that soccer footwork does not EQUAL speed on the soccer field.
BUT, being able to move your feet quickly is PART of the whole equation, and with younger players an agility ladder for instance is a great investment.
The agility ladder is a small investment, it is easy to bring and incorporate into the regular soccer training, and best of all, the players love it!
When I use the agility ladder I mostly use it to improve coordination and body awareness. The drills I tend to use most often are those that include some type of «multi-directional pattern».
I do use the regular «2 step forward» on occasion, but this is not my favorite exercise. The reason is that «2 step forward» in each square does not necessarily transfer over to running and teach the players the correct mechanics. During acceleration you want your first steps to be big and explosive, while doing «2 step forward» in an agility ladder teaches you the opposite.
So therefore I tend to stay away from that exercise, although I sometimes include it or at least variations of it.
Below here you are going to find 11 exercises I use to improve soccer footwork and coordination with my players. What you’ll notice is that the exercises cover all planes of motion performed on a soccer field. Forwards, backwards, lateral and movements performed in the transverse plane are also included.
1. Hopscotch. Your regular hopscotch from school. Shift your feet in and out by jumping and landing on the balls of your feet.
2. Zig Zag Jumps. Start next to the ladder, and jump diagonally through the ladder.
3. Icky Shuffle. Start next to the ladder, and instead of jumping diagonally, move through the ladder using quick feet. The foot that «stays» in the ladder last will be the foot that moves the drill forward.
4. 2 In 2 Out. Start right behind the ladder, and begin by putting your right foot followed by your left foot into the ladder. Next step is to put your right foot followed by the left foot outside the ladder. Try it the opposite way as well, starting with your left foot.
5. Crossover Step. Start with both feet next to the agility ladder. Every step you take in the ladder is going to be a crossover step, where your legs crosses in front of your body.
6. Crossover Step Backwards. The same as previous exercise with the exception that you are moving backwards.
7. Icky Shuffle Backwards. Same as icky shuffle but backwards.
8. 3 Forward 1 Back. Move straight forward and take 2 steps in each square, and when you pass 3 squares, by using quick feet, move back 1 square and continue the same pattern.
9. Lateral 2 Step. Move from side to side by taking 2 quick steps in each square.
10. Lateral Scissors. Move laterally by performing a scissor movement with your legs.
11. Lateral In Out. Move laterally while moving your feet in and out of the ladder.
Okay, there you have it, 11 drills that will help your players improve soccer footwork, coordination and body awareness. Remember to work on all the patterns, in all of the different planes of motion.
Pick 2-4 exercises per workout, and have fun with it. Some exercises are harder than others, so be patient with the players. Start them off by walking the pattern slowly through the ladder, and once they understand it, then it’s time for them to increase the speed a bit.
Don’t rush it, take it easy and be patient. Let the players have fun with it!