While soccer isn't the most played sport in the United States, it's still one of the most popular sports. To shine on the soccer field, a soccer player needs to possess certain skills, and one of such skills is excellent footwork. Excellent footwork requires constant practice and engaging in training drills. This article will review the ways to get better footwork in soccer.
What is Footwork?
Footwork is a necessary part of almost every sport. In soccer, footwork is the way a player's feet move. Some players find it tricky because it requires players to be able to move horizontally, diagonally, and laterally and quickly change directions.
Proper footwork can make the difference between a mediocre soccer player and an extraordinary one. It gives a player agility and speed and helps them block, tackle, throw, and catch the ball.
Why is Footwork Important in Soccer?
Having good footwork will help a soccer player get the ball in the right position at the right time. The feet aren't the only parts of the body involved in carrying out proper footwork. The hips are essential as well. They greatly impact foot movement, helping a player take their game to the next level.
A player with good footwork can control their center of gravity and use it to their advantage. A soccer player who has mastered their center of gravity will find it easier to initiate movement and change direction. They will also have more stability and balance. Having fast feet is essential in timely reacting to the opponent's advances.
An improved position and better footwork will considerably decrease the amount of weight you place on different parts of your body at dangerous angles. This will help your form and lower the chances of you becoming injured.
How to Get Better Footwork?
While developing your ball control skills, it's also crucial to focus on your footwork and improve it. A player must possess great footwork to control the ball effectively, as most of your contact with the ball will be with your feet. Consequently, ball control and footwork go hand in hand.
Getting better footwork requires constant practice and working on your "powerhouse." The powerhouse consists of the core, the hips, and the glutes. Working on these muscles is important as you need them to move well.
To get better footwork, soccer players also need to be flexible. Increased flexibility means the hips and feet can move faster and through a wider range of motion. You may use speed and agility training drills to work on your powerhouse, increase your flexibility, and improve your overall footwork.
Footwork and ball control are fundamental soccer skills necessary for having great moments on the field. It's essential to have a soccer ball under control when it's in your possession, but to do this, you need to have proper footwork.
If you're looking to possess these skills, ball control and footwork drills will be of immense help. These drills help with agility and precision, which are necessary for preparing for a kick-off, positioning your feet when you're shooting or defending, or even preparing when getting an open pass.
Footwork drills will help you improve on these and overall ball mastery, as they help increase your feet's speed. Below are some drills you can try to get faster footwork.
Lateral High Knees
This agility drill improves speed, agility, coordination, and footwork. Both advanced and amateur players can use this drill with the help of an agility ladder.
- Stand sideways at the base of the agility ladder.
- Lift your right foot, ensuring your knee is at waist height, and place the foot into the first box.
- Lift your other foot to waist height and place it in the first box.
- As your other foot touches the ground, repeat the process with the previous foot and move through the ladder's rungs.
- At the end of the ladder, repeat the entire process but starting with the opposite foot. Doing this will balance the two sides.
- After getting to the end of the ladder where you began, you may take 30 seconds of rest before continuing.
A more advanced player may set a time limit to complete the agility drill to make it more of a challenge.
In and Out
The lateral in and out is a great drill to help improve your lateral movement, agility, coordination, speed, and footwork. The drill aims to maintain quick footwork while improving the body's coordination and balance.
- Stand at the base of the agility ladder, with the ladder parallel to your body.
- Place your left foot in the first square, with the right foot still in the original position.
- Step outside the first square, with the left foot joining the right foot.
- Place the right foot outside the second square, and move the left foot to join it.
- Move your right foot first at the second square while the left foot remains outside the second square.
- Repeat the moves as you work your way through the ladder spaces.
The drill may seem too advanced for beginners, but once the three basic steps are mastered, the drill becomes quite simple. When mastered, this drill can improve agility and speed in the lower body parts. A 1-2-3 sound rhythm is recommended to ensure the training drill is done as required.
- Stand to the side of one end of the ladder.
- Step into the first box with your inside foot (if you're on the right side of the ladder, place your right foot inside the box, if you're on the left side, place your left foot inside the box).
- If you're starting with the right foot, place your right foot in the box, followed closely by your left foot.
- Immediately move the right foot outside the second box.
- Move your left foot to the second box, followed by the right foot.
- Immediately move the right foot outside the third box.
- Continue this pattern until you have gone the length of the entire ladder.
The X drill is great for quick feet and improving a change of direction.
- Set up four cones, five yards apart.
- Sprint from cone 1 to cone 2.
- Shuffle laterally across to cone 3.
- Pivot 45 degrees and cross over backward to cone 4.
- Sprint back to cone 1.
- Let cone 4 become cone 1 and repeat the drill in the opposite direction.
This is an excellent drill to develop speed and change of direction.
- Set up five cones seven yards apart in a zigzag pattern.
- From cone 1, sprint to cone 2.
- After planting with the outside foot, backpedal to cone 3.
- Sprint to cone 4.
- Repeat until you've passed all five cones.
- Repeat in the opposite direction.
Besides making yourself available for every training session your team has, you may work on some training drills at home to improve your footwork drills. In the absence of an agility ladder, you may make one using duct tape. And you may use different objects for your home training in lieu of cones.
When working through your drills, start slowly before gradually picking up the pace. The training drills will enhance your speed, balance, and movement coordination. By constantly practicing and taking up extra soccer ball control drills and footwork drills, you'll certainly get better and improve your overall soccer skills.