Being a coach of a travel team I have set a winter skill / fitness program that should keep their interest in soccer peaked, but nothing so intensive so they get burnt out. I’m a true believer that over the course of the winter break, the kids should have some time off to be kids. However, at the same time, I don’t want them to forget all they’ve learned and see the progress go out of the window.
You should be able to do all of these exercises within a front or back yard:
- Diagonal and straight shuttle runs: Depending upon the fitness of the soccer player, the intensity and distance can be toned down or up. The aim is to develop a muscle reaction to sharp turns. Just doing straight shuttle runs doesn’t cut it for me. My boys team get sick and tired of me telling them to keep moving and stay balanced – if any of them have their arms folded it’s an instant push-up routine. You make the opposition players job so much easier if you stay still. Being able to move quickly with and without the ball in all directions is essential for soccer players.
- Toe-taps on top: Player alternates feet touching the top of the ball with
the sole of his foot. Needs to be done in quick repetition 15 times with each foot. (Done standing still)
- Side to side toe-taps: Player uses inside of foot to pass between feet. 15 touches with each foot. (Done standing still)
- Push/Pull: Player pushes the ball a short distance in front of him with his laces then pulls the ball back with the sole of his foot. Alternate between feet – 15 times each foot. (This can be done moving or standing still)
- Scissors: Players do a full scissors move using both feet. 15 times.
- Ball juggling: Each player should look to improve their ball juggling skills during the winter, using either foot, knee and their head as a surface to juggle with. The ball cannot touch the ground between juggles.
If you’re a youth soccer coach reading this and you have any thoughts or other exercises or moves, I’d love to hear them – please leave your suggestions as a comment.