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Agility Training Drills for Football (Soccer) Players

There are so many areas of focus when it comes to football training, from strength training to ensure you can muscle past the opposition to endurance training to help you perform at your best for the 90 minutes of play.

However, agility training should never be lost in the mix when planning sessions, as these drills will help you to change direction without losing balance, speed or strength. As a result, your body’s alignment will improve, your reaction speeds lowered and the chance of injury on the pitch reduced.

When planning agility training drills for football players, MaxiNutrition believes coaches should look towards cones and ladders. The following guide explains how to use both pieces of equipment effectively:
Cone-based agility training drills

123 back

Setting up:

  • You will need four cones and either a training partner or coach to perform the 123 back exercise effectively.
  • Place the first cone where the half-way line meets the touchline and the next cone two normal strides along the half-way line.
  • A third cone should be placed three long strides along the touchline to the right of the first cone.
  • The fourth and final cone should be in the same position as the third but this time to the left of the first cone.

How to do them:

  • Stand at the first cone and sprint to the cone indicated by the training partner or coach.
  • Just before you reach the cone, the training partner or coach should shout where they want you to go to next.

The number of reps and sets:

For the first set, ask your training partner or coach to point out ten cones that they would like you to sprint towards. Take a 60 second rest at the final cone and walk back to the first cone. For the second set, increase the number of cones shouted out to 15. After a further 60-second rest, complete a final set of 20 cones.

3-cone L-drill

Setting up:

  • Take three cones and set them up five yards apart from one another in an L shape.

How to do them:

  • Start at one of the corner cones.
  • Sprint to the middle cone and touch it with your foot.
  • Turn and sprint back to your starting cone, again touching it with your foot.
  • Turn again and sprint to the cone that you haven't been to yet.
    Run around this final cone in anti-clockwise without stopping.

Continue sprinting around the perimeter of the L shape and finish back at the cone where you started the routine.

The number of reps and sets:

For this exercise, time how long it takes you to complete all six steps. Complete the routine five times, aiming to get quicker each time.
Ladder-based agility training drills

Lateral shuttle

How to do them:

  • Start by standing to the right-hand side of the ladder so that your left shoulder is next to the ladder.
  • Lift your left foot so that your knee is close to your chest and step sideways into the first square of the ladder.
  • Repeat this action immediately after your left foot is on the ground, though this time with your right foot.
  • Continue performing steps two and three in sequence until you have reached the left-hand side of the ladder.
  • Without stopping go through the entire exercise again, only this time with your right foot leading.
  • Once back at the right-hand side of the ladder, you will have completed one rep.

The number of reps and sets:

Complete ten reps of the lateral shuttle per set. Take a 90 second rest at the end of the set and perform another ten reps at a quicker pace.

Side straddle hop

How to do them:

  • Stand at one side of the ladder, with your body positioned so that you are looking up the rungs.
  • Hop into the first square of the ladder with both feet, bending your knees slightly upon your landing.
  • Without breaking motion, spring your feet apart so that they land to each side of the first square of the ladder — imagine the lower body part of performing a star jump.
  • Bring your feet back together again, though this time aiming to land in the ladder’s second square.
  • Repeat this technique all the way to the opposite side of the ladder, then turn and work your way back to your starting position. This completes one rep.

The number of reps and sets:

For one set, complete ten reps of the side straddle hop. Following a 60 second rest, perform another ten reps with the aim of improving your pace.


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