Quick Reaction Time and Agility Methods in Soccer

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If you have ever watched a soccer match, you will understand how vital speed is to the game. It does not end in a soccer player running up and down a pitch faster than their opponents. There are so many facets to speed that even enthusiasts may not see in the game. 

With a soccer player, the aim is not outpacing the opposition; what happens when the player is with or without the ball also matters. When to run, when not to run, what time to sprint, and what time to jog around. There’s a truckload of information that goes into the player’s head during training, and they have just split seconds to implement all of this data.

Here we’ll attempt to break the different speed actions into five broad categories and analyze them.

Anticipation Speed

Soccer games are in phases, and the exact step is often repeated several times during a game. These sequences, when repeated continuously, become natural to the player, who then knows when to expect the ball, just by watching a teammate’s body movements, when to slide in and block an opposition shot. Anticipation speed is a skill built over a long time.

Reaction Speed

The speed at which players react is essential in soccer, as the reaction speed can be the difference between a win or a loss. Let us look at a goalkeeper; for example, the rate at which they react to a deflection, an abrupt change in direction, and an unexpected shot must be spot on at all times. 

Many things influence reaction time, including visual influences and auditory influences. Still, using the goalkeeper instance, does he see or hear the ball first? A teammate’s scream or sighting a player shaping up to take a shot can influence or delay reaction time.

Speed of Feet

When the player is without the ball, the standard running skills are described as the feet’ speed. Since soccer is a contact speed, running without the ball means other players would naturally try to block the path. Pace and explosion play a big part here, as the player can only move with the other players’ movements.

Skill Speed

While the speed of feet involves running without the ball, skill speed affects running at the opponent with the ball, making dribbles while holding off potential challengers, which is the most impressive to the onlookers. 

Speed of Thought

With so much happening around them, soccer players have a lot of concentration to do. Their teammate’s movements, the opposition movements, weather and pitch conditions, and the sound from players, coaches, the referee, and even the crowd can be overwhelming. Speed of thought is the ability to process all this information and react to the environment.

Agility, on the other hand, is the ability to alter directions without influencing balance. Many people erroneously believe that agility is an inborn trait and cannot be worked upon. More soccer players are beginning to work on their agility levels to meet up the demands of the modern game. Agility can determine, to a large extent, how far a player can go in his career. Here are a few ways it can affect a player’s game.

Changing Directions

The most obvious determinant of how agile a player is is how fast they can move in another direction, different from the first one.  Changing course is as vital in defense as it is in the attack.

Marking 

Defenders know a lot about marking, and one thing they learn early on is that you never allow the opposition attacking get on the wrong side of you. An agile defender knows when to stick out their foot and when to stand their ground. In one on one scenarios, the defender should be able to turn without losing balance when the offensive player abruptly changes direction.

Goal Keepers

The man in between the sticks is not left out, as even though a goalie might stay for long periods of inaction, they could be required to make saves at any time in a split second. Reflexes are a part of every keeper’s game, and while they work on agility more than the outfield players, their importance can not be over-emphasized.

The question many soccer players ask is, how do I build agility? It can be confusing with so many methods out there, but there are basics every soccer player must follow; drills, drills, and drills. Here are some ways to build agility and speed in soccer. All of these drills can be performed using blazepod soccer training lights.

Learn the Athletic Stance

A lot of soccer players do not know something as basic as the right athletic stance. The stance is essential, as players will learn how to reduce the center of gravity and maintain a posture that supports their frame and give them the freedom to move in any direction. When players master the athletic stance, changing directions and performing quick feints become more natural for them.

Enhance Mobility and Stability

Mobility works in tandem with stability, as a player who can move the limbs freely and lacks primary balance while changing the course of direction can quickly be shoved over. Players must work on their stability and movement drills, and one efficient way of doing so is training with a method that allows you to target specific muscle groups.

Build Strength and Power

The gym has always been an essential part of many team’s infrastructures, and it has not lost its relevance. Exercises such as rotational power workouts can help build lateral strength, which gives the player more power while switching directions.

Train Reactive Agility

Reactive agility is the combination of quick reactive ability and agility, meaning the player becomes an all-rounded fast player, a fast thinker, and a fast mover. These kinds of drills test a player’s ability to make decisions in record time. As opposed to planned exercises, reactive agility drills are spontaneous, and the player cannot hazard a guess as to what the following action will be. 

On the whole, agility and response speed are vital parts of a player’s development that should never be neglected. Every opportunity to build on players’ speed should be seized with both hands by the coaches and the players themselves.

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