Coach Clay designed these seven conditioning drills to help prepare athletes for game day. These drills can be used both in the off-season and during the season. They will help improve speed, agility, and endurance so that on game day you are ready to preform at full capacity. Remember to adjust the drills according to your present physical condition and to drink plenty of water.
The Killer Seven Drills
- Center Of Gravity
- Creative Dashes
- The Epidemic
- The Nightmare
- Through Your Legs
Center Of Gravity Drills
he game of soccer is a game of balance. Being able to elude defenders, jump over tackles and just control your own body can be at times a difficult challenge. By creating a strong center of gravity by building one's stomach muscles, they instantly increase their sense of balance and control over movements. Creating a strong core section will also benefit your shot. With strong abdominal muscles your shot will be much harder and travel with a greater velocity.
Here are a couple of sit-up drills to help you create and maintain a solid mid section.
- Bent Knee Crunches: Lie flat on your back, put your legs perpendicular to the ground and bend your knees. With your hands lightly supporting your neck slowly move your head and shoulders up toward the sky. You want to keep your head facing the sky and not bent into your knees.
- Straight Leg Crunches: Set up the exact same way as the bent knee crunches except this time don't bend your knees. Your feet should be high in the air. Again, lightly support your neck with your hands and raise your head and shoulders to the sky.
- Scoops: Sit on the top of a staircase or somewhere where your feet will dangle just a bit. Rest your hands just behind your butt and lean back, raising your knees to your chest. From this position slowly move your legs, straightening your knees, downward and in a scooping-type motion. As your feet are fully extended and scooping, pull your knees back to your chest and repeat the scooping rotation. This takes a little getting used to but is effective. Older athletes may want to put a LIGHT 2-5 pound weight on their feet to increase the difficulty.
- Throw Downs: Grab a partner for this one. Lay down flat on your back. Extend your arms as far above your head as possible and grab onto the ankles of your standing partner. Raise your legs to a 90-degree angle, perfectly straight in the air. Have your partner, try and throw your legs to the ground. You need to use your stomach muscles and keep your legs just inches off the ground and then raise them back up so that your partner can throw them down again. Repeat this 10-25 times depending on age and strength.
Coaches should always make sure that proper technique is being used in every form of sit-up activity. You don't want to have any pulled stomach muscles, tight necks or back problems. There are many more stomach exercises that can be used as I'm sure you know from watching info-mercials. These are just a few favorites.
To make some more exciting you can have a one partner on his/her back while another holds their feet down with their knees. The partner holding the other down can toss a soccer ball to the athlete doing the sit ups and he/she can head it during each upward motion. Only use this drill for athletes over 10 years of age though.
Get two cones 10-15 yards apart (depending on age of athletes) from each other. Separate your team into five different groups and have the first player in each group form a line perpendicular to the first cone. Each player should be arm's width apart. So you should basically have 5 separate lines, the first player in each ready to do the drill.
The object of this drill is to make the athletes sprint from their present position, the first cone, to the second cone as quickly as possible. The twist to this drill, and the reason it builds quickness and recovery time is because the athletes must start in awkward positions.
For example, the first group of five athletes should start on their bellies. When they here you say "GO", the jump to their feet and sprint the 10-15 yards. As they are running, the next five pop on their bellies and listen for the "GO" command. After getting through all of the groups, you start over.
Do the same routine, on the bellies, for the next round as they sprint back to the original cone. When they complete that task, start round Three. Make them jump in place pulling their knees to their chest. You yell the command whenever you're ready and they must stop their jumping and start their full out sprint. Do this twice for everyone.
Next you can have them do high knees in place, while they wait for the command. You can get creative and make them do anything you want before the sprint, as long as it is active.
With younger athletes 8-10 reps is plenty of work. For older athletes ages 15 and up, you should try and have them doing anywhere between 10-20 reps. This type of fitness is devious because the distance is short and the players enjoy the creative beginnings thus they don't look at it as fitness. If you have a great practice, but still feel that your athletes need to get some fitness in, this is the drill for you. It's fun and about as rewarding a fitness drill as fitness drills come.
Starting from the end, measure outwardly 5 yards and place a cone. From that point measure another 5 yards (10-yard line) and place a cone. From that point walk another 5 yards (15 yds.) and place a cone. Continue this action until you have put all 5 cones down and the farthest cone is 25 yards from the end line.
Line your entire team up along the end line. The cones should be set up from the middle of the goalmouth so everyone can see them. On your command the athletes sprint to the first cone, turn and run back to the end line. They then turn at the end line and sprint for cone #2. They turn at cone #2, head back to the end line and then sprint for cone #3.
They repeat this until they have sprinted to and from each cone, in successive order. Depending upon age and fitness level of your team, decide how many repetitions should be done. For young athletes 3-5 sets is probably appropriate and for older athletes, anywhere from 6-10 reps(never more than 10).
It is important that your athletes turn at each one. Keep an eye on them and do not allow them to cheat and stop short of the cones. This form of fitness is effective and builds strong leg muscles as well as a strong mind. The athletes should be given approximately 1 minute between each set, and more time if you deem necessary. To increase the difficulty level for older athletes lengthen the cones to 10 yard variables (cones being at the 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50-yard markers).
Take four cones and make a square. Depending on how many players you have you may want to use an entire half of the soccer field. Place your entire team of players into the square and then pick one player to be the "Carriers." This player now must try and tag their teammates and help the epidemic spread. Once the "Carrier" tags somebody, that tagged player must link hands with the "Carrier" that tagged him/her.
Now these two players, attached at the hands, must work together to try and capture another player and build on their chain of disease. When they tag a third player, that player must also join in on the chain of disease and now the three of them must work together, running around the square trying to spread the Epidemic.
The object of the drill, besides building fitness is to create a gigantic chain of athletes, linked by their hands, chasing after free bodies. By the end of the drill you should have 1 long line of players working as a team to close off an area of the square to contain and capture the last free player.
This drill is a ton of fun and allows the athletes to get fit, while building team unity and having a blast. It is important though that you, the coach, mandate a rule that states, all players must jog at all times or they are automatically linked to the carrier. With younger athletes this isn't a problem, but as the kids get older they get smart and try to stand in a corner or something of that nature.
Just keep your eye out and make sure they're having fun, but also make sure they are getting the fitness the drill is designed for. Also, if you have a big group of players, 20 or so, you may want to start the game with 2 "Carriers." By doing this their will be two separate lines at the end, having to work together to capture the last "disease free" athlete.
Separate your team into two groups. When using the entire soccer field, place the groups at opposite corner flags. Both groups start the exercise at exactly the same time. Both groups begin to jog along their respective end lines. When the players complete that line, they sprint the next one (the sideline).
After completing the sideline sprint, the athletes jog the end line. When they conclude the line, they start phase 2. They must now sprint two lines (sideline + end line, and when they finish that they jog one line (sideline). In the third phase the athletes must consecutively sprint three lines (end line +sideline + end line). When finished with phase 3, the athletes get a chance to catch their breath and are allowed to jog an entire lap (all 4 lines).
Now repeat the drill from the top, starting at a 3-line sprint, and then 1-line jog. Have them work their way down. Next, would be a 2-line sprint, 1-line jog. And finally a 1-line sprint, 1-line jog. Remember to have them cool down with a nice walk/skip/stretch.
This conditioning drill should be moderated according to the age of your athletes. The drill mentioned above is for a high school level player. Collegiate players and professionals should add one more level (4 line sprints). For younger athletes you may want to modify the drill and only use half of the field.
For real young athletes, (10-years old or so) you should make a grid 30 x 30 yards, with cones and have them run around that. This drill not only builds one's fitness level but should build team camaraderie. It is important that the groups stay together as they sprint. This means the players who are the most fit, should help the less fit athletes get through the drill, pushing them and encouraging them as they run side by side.
The "Nightmare" drill is similar to the "doggies" except that the distance is much more intense and the difficulty level is tripled. For this drill you must line your entire team up on one end line.
At the blow of a whistle your athletes must complete the following run at the highest level of sprint possible. They must sprint to the edge of the 6-yard box and back, then to the 18-yard box and back, then to midfield and back, then to the other 18-yard box and back, then to the other 6-yard box and back and then all the way to the other end line and back.
This drill is extremely intense and should be used with caution. Athletes around the age of 14 may only need to do this one time, with no repeats at all. Varsity level athletes should do the entire routine twice with a nice long rest in between sets. Collegiate and professional athletes may do 3-4 sets of this drill and must try and complete each set under 65 seconds.
When running this type of fitness make sure to cheer your athletes on and encourage them. This is a grueling run and allows the athlete to pull from deep down inside and work themselves physically and mentally. Players should be pushing each other as well in a positive manner. When they complete the run they should be encouraging the others as they near the finish line.
This drill can bring a team together. After completing this run they have the feeling that they can accomplish anything and that is a great feeling. Be careful though, and make sure to not overrun them. One set is probably enough for most athletes.
Enjoy this one and be smart.
Through Your Legs Fitness
Everyone on your team should find a partner. Once everyone has a partner and a ball between the two of them, they should create one long line (you can use the end line, midfield line or sideline to help). One player stands along the line with the ball and the other player jumps out two yards ahead of their partner.
Now the two partners should be face-to-face approximately 2 yards apart. Your team should be in two parallel lines across the field. The partner without the ball should open their legs just wide enough for a ball to be passed through. The other partner, with the ball, should pass the ball through their partner's legs. The open-legged partner should turn and chase down the passed ball. When they get to it they should use either their inside, outside or sole of the foot to turn the ball. Once turned they take one dribble and then pass it back to their partner.
They sprint back to their original position and open their legs back up for another pass. They chase that ball down, turn, pass it back and repeat drill for 30 seconds. Once the 30 seconds are up and the first player has ran, they become the passer and the other player begins the fitness part.
This drill is a great way to get fitness done as well as increasing the athletes' ability to turn the ball properly. Toward the end of the time period, the athlete also must manage his/her fatigue, and concentrate enough to make proper turns. Older athletes 14 and up may be able to go as long as 45 seconds or even 1 minute.
As the coach, you can watch your athletes and decide how long they can and should go for. Superior athletes, varsity level, college and professional may do up to ten reps each of this drill. You can vary the passing and chasing to tossing the ball over their shoulders and having them chase it down that way. Younger athletes really shouldn't exceed 5 reps each and would probably benefit from 3 to 4.
With these seven conditioning drills you should be ready for your next game fully prepared to outlast your competition. Good Luck!