I was a geometry nut in high school. I loved the logic of it. I loved that it was very “physical”. You could almost touch and hold the lines, squares and triangles as you figured out the proofs.
One of the common theorems is that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This is true for math…its not true for soccer players.
First, very little of running in soccer is in a straight line. Your opponent is moving in different directions. The spot of attack is always moving. The ball is moving.
All of these variables mean that players will not be running in a straight line. They may run in zig zags. They may run in curves. They may run, slide to the ground, and then have to run again.
When I watch a game at any level, I rarely see kids running in a straight line. From U8 players up the collegiate, national and professional soccer levels.
Yet how much of running and moving in soccer practice is in a straight line? Most of it I bet.
What should you do as a coach or parent to help your kids prepare for the requirements of the sport?
Here are three creative ideas. Not only will they prepare your team for what they will need in a game, they are fun to do and add a nice bit of variety to practice. And remember, variety is the spice of life.
1. Use cones. When doing dynamic warm-ups instead of just going in a straight line, have the team change direction by going around every cone.
2. Have your team make a circle and perform all warm-ups while moving in the circle. Be sure to go in both directions. Also, when going in a circle for some reason the circle always gets smaller. You can use cones or reset the team after a few exercises.
3. Have the team run around the center circle at speed. This will get them to angle their body in a way they do in games but is hard to reproduce in practice. Of course, you want to go in both directions.
Of course, there is a place in soccer conditioning and fitness to work on straight line running. However, think out of the box a bit and incorporate running in different directions.
I think you’ll be happy with the results.
Coach Ron Usher is a youth fitness expert. His methods, tips and techniques help coaches, parents and teachers improve their kids fitness and sports performance skills. Learn how you can help your child and team be faster, more athletic and skilled at www.athleticskillsforsoccer.com