Agility and Quickness Training for Soccer Players

Agility and quickness are two of the most important attributes for a soccer player to have. Especially when it comes to offensive skills like dribbling and getting around defenders. But, if you’ve read any of my blog posts on soccer, you know that many soccer players are enhancing this attributes the WRONG way.

They’re hoping to get more agile from dribbling drills, or agility ladders. The truth is, if you really want to elevate your agility and quickness, you have to isolate your performance training from working with a ball. And I’m going to share how to do that today.

I’m about to lay out the three phases for agility and quickness training for soccer players.

If there’s one tool I had to use to elevate a player’s agility and quickness off the soccer field, it would be unilateral plyometrics. Many soccer players lack single leg stability, and can benefit greatly from learning to accelerate, decelerate, and produce force on one leg.

Let’s get into it:

Phase One: Low-Level Unilateral Plyometrics

The first phase of agility and quickness training for soccer players is low-level unilateral plyometrics. You’re familiar with them if you’ve ever read an OTA blog post before. Low-level plyometrics are plyometrics that build the elasticity and structural integrity of the foot, knee, and hip.

They’re great for an athlete to build a base of explosiveness in the lower-limb.

I’ll share a few of these below, but before I do, you should know that I also like to add an element of stabilization in these plyometrics by using a tempo. For example, I’ll add a three second pause at the bottom position of a single leg tuck jump to challenge the athlete’s stability.

So, what are a few low-level plyometrics you can perform?

Three Low-Level Plyometrics for Soccer Players

1. Single Leg Pogo Jumps

  • Begin on one leg, knee relaxed
  • Push through the ankle and elevate off the ground as high as you can
  • Land softly and quickly transition into the next jump
  • Try to get as many jumps as possible in the programmed time

2. Single Leg Lateral Line Hops

  • Find a line and stand on one side of it
  • Bend the knee slightly and push the hip back
  • Keep your center of gravity over the line and jump over the line as quickly as possible
  • Try to get as many hops as possible in the programmed amount of time

3. Single Leg Tuck Jump

  • Begin on one leg
  • Push the hip back slightly and lower down into a quarter-squat position
  • Explode off the ground and bring both knees up to your chest
  • Land softly
  • I like to use tempos to add an element of stability. Feel free to throw them in

Phase Two: Unilateral Force Production

After you’ve built a base of acceleration, deceleration, and stability with unilateral plyometrics, you can turn your focus to force production. The goal here is to build your lower-limbs to become as powerful and explosive as possible.

Building your force production capacity is important so you can quickly and spontaneously change directions on the field.

Imagine, you’re dribbling the ball and a defender challenges you. You need the ability to battle the momentum of your body to change directions, roll over the ball, and get by the defender.

That’s here your force production comes in.

Three Force Production Plyometrics for Soccer Players

1. Single Leg Broad Jumps

  • Start on one leg
  • Bend the knee slightly and load the hip up
  • As you reach triple extension, try to point the hips up towards the ceiling at a 45 degree angle
  • Land softly on two feet and repeat

2. Single Leg Box Jumps

  • Stand on one leg in front of a box
  • Lower down to quarter-squat position
  • Explode off the ground
  • Land softly on two feet on the box

3. Skater Jumps

  • Start on one leg
  • Bend the knee and load up the hip
  • Explode “up and out” laterally
  • Land softly on the opposite leg
  • Make sure you “stick” the landing. That means your hips shouldn’t sink down upon contact with the ground. You should land in the position you started
  • Repeat for desired reps

Phase Three: Unilateral Change of Direction Plyometrics

Finally, it’s time to advance the plyometrics we’ve been performing by adding a change of direction element. This advancement can be adding a reactive element to your jumps, or throwing in some cones to add in body control. Either way the goal here is to move into plyometrics that are more sport-specific, and carry over to the field.

Three Change Of Direction Plyometrics for Soccer Players

1. Cone Hops

  • Lay out four cones about a foot apart from each other in a straight line
  • Start at the far end of the cones on one leg
  • Your big toe should be in line with the top of the cones
  • Bend the knee slightly and push the hip back
  • Jump laterally to get your big toe in line with each cone
  • Once you hit the last cone, jump back
  • Repeat on both legs on both sides of the cones

2. Single Leg Broad to 90

  • Set up four cones in a “T” shape
  • Start at the bottom of the T
  • Perform a single leg broad jump to the middle cone of the T
  • Then jump laterally to one of the ends
  • Repeat both ways on both legs

3. Single Leg Triple Jump

  • Begin standing on one leg
  • Bend the knees slightly and load the hips
  • Explode into a single leg broad jump
  • When you make contact with the ground, pull with the glute to perform another jump
  • Pull with the glute again and perform another jump
  • Land softly on two legs

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