The need for an effective soccer player to possess a high degree of agility would seem to
go without saying. However, for the record, we shall say it.
From Science and Soccer: “The dynamic nature of soccer requires the possession of not only speed but agility” (1).
Or “A look at any football game, at any level, clearly demonstrates the importance of quality movement” (2).
And in a recent press release, “Agility is everything. Football is only agility. The aim of any training programme in football should have the end aim of improving agility. In fact it should be the beginning and the end of all fitness programmes. In a game that depends so heavily on agility (in the form of players changing direction at high speed) developing the areas that contribute to agility (strength, flexibility and speed) is key to the overall development of agility in players” (3).
Plyometrics is a type of exercise designed to produce fast, powerful movement. In soccer, power comes from the legs. So one would expect that plyometric drills designed to improve leg power would improve one’s soccer performance. Thomas et al. demonstrated that this indeed seems to be the case (4).
Their study looked at the effect of plyometric training on the agility of 12 young male soccer players of approximately 17 years of age. The group was divided into two, each group doing a different type of plyometric training over a 6 week period. One group did depth jumps and the other trained in countermovement jumps. In both cases, agility improved significantly when compared to the player’s initial agility test scores.
This result would seem to support what was reported in the blog post Agility is its Own Skill. Namely, that improving leg muscle strength and power will have an impact on agility.
[Shameless Plug Alert! Zigyt features a number of versions of the Dot Drill, which is a form of plyometric exercise.]
One study looked at the effect of preseason conditioning on reducing the level of injuries in female soccer players (5). Three hundred girls between the ages of 14 and 18 were studied. The preseason training program comprised sport-specific cardiovascular conditioning, plyometric work, sport cord drills, strength training, and flexibility exercises to improve one’s speed and agility. The study showed that the preseason training had a significant impact on the prevention of injuries. The incidence of injury in the group that received training was 57% smaller than in the group that received no preseason training!
References for this Post:
- Reilly,T and Doran, D. Fitness assessment.In: Science and Soccer (2nd ed.). Reilly T. and Williams, M.A. eds. Routledge, 2003. p39.
- Jeffreys, Ian, Movement Training in Football, for the UK Strength and Conditioning Assoc.
- Kolokythas, Nico, Press release appearing in FC Business Magazine, Issue 51, March/April 2011, p.68.
- Thomas, Kevin, French, Duncan and Hayes, Philip. The Effect of Two Plyometric Techniques on Muscular Power and Agility in Youth Soccer Players, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(1), January 2009.
- Heidt, Robert S. Jr., Sweeterman, Lisa M., Carlonas, Richelle L., Traub, Jeff A. and Tekulve, Francis X. Avoidance of Soccer Injuries with Preseason Conditioning, Am J Sports Med 2000 28: 659.