Fitness Skills & Tips - Part 1: Balance

4 min read
There are many different sort of drills you can do whilst training or warming up before a match. Below are some drills that can help your balance, stay tuned for more tips related to speed, and your endurance. Balance Balance is often said to be the most important skill in soccer and this does not come naturally to a lot of people so it must be practiced. Balance is a general term that refers to a player's center of gravity. Balance can be represented in the form of mechanics and agility both with and without the ball. Why is it that some of the more skillful players are able to perform an abundance of tricks and complicated techniques without ever losing their footing or balance? It's because they've perfected their balance and strengthened their agility. Agility is often confused with balance. Agility means that you have the ability to change your direction without losing balance or speed. Here are some useful exercises or drills in order to improve your balance. By creating a strong center of gravity and building stomach muscles, you can increase your sense of balance and control over movements. Here are some exercises to work on that: 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 bend 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 very effective. Older athletes may want to put a light 2 to 5 pound weight on their feet to in-crease 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 to 25 times depending on age and strength.
In order to improve your agility, which is different from balance, take a look at these exercises. Set two cones 10 yards apart and do the following: Start by facing forward in a staggered stance. On "go," sprint to the opposite cone. At the cone, regain control, stop as quickly as possible and backpedal to the start. At the start, turn your hips, plant your outside foot and begin side shuffling back to the far cone. When you reach the cone, plant your outside foot again and shuffle back to the starting cone. Repeat the same sequence using carioca footwork (side step, crossover step, side step, crossover behind). After returning to the cone on the last carioca step, plant and sprint past the last cone. The whole drill (seven changes) should be completed in 20 seconds or less depending on the age of the athlete. Rest 30-45 seconds and repeat. See how quickly you can change directions, as well as movements.  

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