Soccer is a popular sport having an estimated four billion fans worldwide. More intriguing is the fact that about four percent of the world, two hundred and sixty-five million people, actively participate in the game.
However, despite a large number of passionate players of soccer, FIFpro has only identified a rough estimate of sixty-five thousand professional soccer players.
Notably, this leaves quite a number of the world’s well-known soccer players as semiprofessional, while the rest are classified as skilled and amateur. What marks the difference in the statistics?
As described by most of the greatest soccer players as the key ingredient towards improving one’s skills in football is endless goal-oriented exercises.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, states that the ten-thousand-hour rule has been key to the success of most many including soccer players such as Lionel Messi.
Taking adequate time to perfect on one’s skills either as a striker, midfielder, defender, or shot-stopper is vital towards achieving optimum proficiency in soccer.
This article will discuss the basic skills of soccer and the simple exercise’s key to helping any player improve on their skills.
Simple Soccer Exercises to Improve Your Skills in Soccer
In a hunt for better skills in the soccer sport, players require constant exercises to keep on sharpening on their proficiency. Repeated drills on specific skills help elevate a player’s abilities from just a beginner to a skilled or professional player.
Among skills named to be fundamental for excellence in soccer are speed, power, as well as agility. Other skills such as passing, dribbling, and shooting are essential in ball handling in a game situation. Each of the soccer skills requires specific drills for its sharpening.
The following are basic soccer skills and simple exercises to improve each one of them in a quest to bring out the best out of a soccer player in the pitch.
Speed and Agility
Soccer, just as many sports, involves rapid activity bursts which are then followed by short resting periods.
Either dodging a player or making tackles players require both agility and speed. The following are exercises soccer players can adapt to increase on their speed and agility.
The Broken Hundred-Yard Sprints
Among all speed improving exercises, this is the most common and most efficient drill. To begin it, the players need cones placed on the playground five yards apart.
After warming up, the players are to stand at the first cone, sprint to the second cone, and back.
The process is repeated having the player run to the next one and back to the first cone until all cones are covered.
High Knee Running
There is no simple exercise known to raise a player’s tempo and knee lift than the high knee running exercise.
The exercise is best performed with the help of an agility training ladder yielding to faster-sprinting speed in players.
To exercise this drill, the player should stand ten yards from the ladder end and commence jogging on the spot having the knees high that the thighs are parallel to the ground.
The players are to keep their knees high running forward focusing on the fast foot strike ensuring they step in each box with both feet.
At the end of the ladder, the players should accelerate and sprint twenty yards, then walk back and repeat the same process several times.
Other simple speeds and agility exercises include the T-sprints, teammate chase drill, ground marker drill, and the shuttle take-off drill.
Technical skills and endurance make up the primary element of great soccer performance by a player.
However, power training stands to be one of the essential parts of a footballer’s workout. Through power training, the soccer players, gain both strength and explosiveness necessary for sprinting as well as jumping activities. The following are some of the well-known power training exercises.
The best way for soccer players to build explosive power is by the plyometric exercises. Through the plyometric exercises players increase on their vertical jump as well as strength hence yielding better performance on the pitch.
The most common plyometric exercises include the front box jump, the lateral box jump, skater jumps, and the scissor jumps. Other plyometric exercises include the barbell squat jumps, and the weighted lateral jumps.
Dribbling and Passing Skills
The best footballers in the world are well defined for their tactical skills in dribbling and passing.
With perfect dribbling and accurate passing skills, players can control the ball when sprinting at full speed as well as avoiding the opponents in the field.
This move enables the players to showcase their creativity. Just like other skills in soccer, dribbling and passing require adequate exercises to sharpen and perfect on the moves with the ball for better play in the field. The following are simple exercises to help improve on dribbling and passing in soccer.
The Closed-Space Dribbling Drill
As Tobin Heath, a United States soccer player says, most of the play time in soccer, players deal with tight spaces with opponents ready to snatch away the ball from them.
The close-space dribbling skill is essential in helping the players solve the tight space challenge yielding creativity on how to get through.
To exercise this drill, the players should have three cones spaced two feet apart on the ground either in a triangle or in a line.
A player is expected to dribble the ball between the cones using all his or her feet surfaces. Also, quick touches should be performed in a quest to guide the ball around the cones in a controlled pattern. The drill should be conducted for about twenty minutes daily.
The Partner Drill
The partner drill is a crucial exercise in improving the pass accuracy of a player. The player also has better control over the ball while receiving and releasing a pass.
To practice it, a player should have a partner toss a ball in the air which he passes back to the partner back and forth ten to twenty times while making use of the inside of the foot.
The drill should be repeated with the other foot. After several repetitions, the player is advised to pass the ball now using the lace, repeating the same procedure as when using the inside of the foot.
The Cone Drill
Ask the greatest footballers about what helps them perfect on their dribbling skills, and they will mention the cone drill.
It is known for honing the player’s ability to trap the ball on both the inside and outside of the foot; the cone drill helps the players keep the ball away from opponents even in small spaces.
To practice the cone drill, a player needs six to ten cones all lined up in a five yards interval. The player now weaves through the cones dribbling the ball fast using the inside of the foot.
In the next set, the player dribbles the ball fast using the outside of his foot. The drill is repeated for quite some having the player circle right and then left around each of the cones in the line.
The Doggies Dribbling
Recommended by Valarie Prause, a soccer expert, and former soccer player, the Doggies dribbling exercise is critical in improving a player’s dribbling skills.
Again, cones are the prime requirement in this exercise. At least five cones are placed five yards apart in a line.
The player makes a run from the first cone to the second cone and back to the starting position.
The player later repeats a similar sprint with the ball to each of the other cones and back till the end.
For maximum yield, the players are advised to sprint the fastest they can with the ball having them repeat the cycle several times.
The Hot-Box Pass and Receive Drill
Used by many coaches to train their players this exercise helps improve on an individual as well as group passing skills. A box of approximate three yards by three yards is created to practice the drill.
Two cones are set a few yards on either side of the created box. One player starts in the box while two other players begin the exercise at the cones.
One of the players on the box’s side passes to the tasking player making a check run to the ball. What follows is that the tasking player receives the pass, turning around the training stick back into the box’s middle, then passing the ball between the sticks to the other player.
The tasking player then makes a check run outside the subject box, towards the player they passed the ball.
After that, the side player makes a return of the ball to the player in the middle having him receive the ball, turning around a different training stick, then returning to the box. Later, the ball is passed to the other player having the pattern repeat itself. One-minute rest is essential since the players exercise at full pace.
To many, nothing is as fancy as having a dead-eye instinct in shooting a ball during a match. However, this doesn’t come easy as we all see many of the skilled and professional players do in matches.
Endless time on the pitch training on shooting skills is, therefore, essential to achieve the best of the shots in the pitch. Described below are some of the shooting exercises to help improve on the skill.
The Turn and Shoot Exercise
Among the shooting exercises for soccer players, the turn and shoot exercise stand to be simple and effective having the drill combine different skills in on the move. The player asks for a pass from one of the players twelve yards away from them.
The player is expected to bring the ball into control, make a turn, and take a shot after receiving the pass.
Immediately, the players ask for a pass from the second player and repeat the same. The players passing the balls are all situated at different positions. The player shooting the ball is advised to use both of his feet while taking various shots.
The Agility Shot
Notably, this is a more complex shooting exercise that requires an agility ladder around a twelve-yard interval from the penalty area with three cones two yards apart following in a straight line.
The player is supposed to hop through the ladder, weaving in and out of the cones with the ball, and finally taking a shot.
The exercise is repeated until all the balls have been shot. The agility shot exercise is critical in enhancing shot accuracy, staying in control, as well as shot selection.
The Pass, Run On, and Shoot Drill
In this exercise, two players are required at either side of the goalkeeper’s yard having their positions marked with cones.
The player to make the shot starts about ten yards from the box passing the ball to the player at the nearest cone before dashing towards the box.
The player standing at the first training cone makes a pass to the player at the second one in the path of the shooter.
The second player rolls the ball to the shooter to take a shot. This drill helps in developing accuracy as well as shot selection instincts in players.
Technical and tactical skills are vital to defining the proficiency levels of a player. Taking drills and exercises like those mentioned above help soccer players improve their skills earning them a spot among the highly skilled and professional soccer player.
Other activities that help soccer players improve their skills include more frontal plane exercises as well as maximal strength workouts.
However, it is great to note that consistency is the key to developing one’s skills from one level to another.
Additionally, more complex exercises are required to have a player edge out others in a quest to become better. At this stage, soccer needs more than just technical and tactical skills but also sharp decision-making skills.