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Pace & Tackling

These speed, quickness and agility exercises are designed to improve your speed off the mark and acceleration.
For multi-sprint sports such as football absolute speed is not the most important factor. Speed off the mark, acceleration and agility are...
With these speed and agility exercises you'll have run five yards while your opponenet is still thinking about it.

General Guidelines For Speed And Agility Exercises

Quality is the key to speed and agility drills being successful. Keep the individual sprints short and rest completely between sets. Use these 6 pointers to maximise your training returns...

1. Warm up thoroughly. Speed and agility exercises may not leave you out of breath but they do put considerable strain on your musculature.

2. Speed and agility exercises should be performed on separate days to other training or at least at the beginning of the session.

3. You will gain most benefit from these speed and agility drills if you have previously developed a solid strength and power base.

4.. A typical session should consist of approximately 5 sets of 10 repetitions (each sprint being 1 repetition). Work to rest ratio should be 1:5 i.e. a 5 second sprint should be followed by a 25 second recovery period.

5. The number of sessions per week varies greatly. For most team sports speed and agility exercises should be introduced late on in pre-season training. Two sessions a week is ample. During the season 1 session a week may be enough. Sprint athletes may need as many as 3 sessions per week.

6. The speed and agility exercises below are suitable for many sports. To make them more specific adapt them slightly to mirror the movement patterns in your game. You'll find some examples below.

Chose 2 or 3 of the speed and agility exercises below to make up the session, keeping to the recommended number of sets and repetitions.

 Ready? "Marks" "Set" "Go!"...   Speed And Agility Exercises

1. Basic Sprints
Set 2 cones out 10-20 metres apart. Sprint from one cone to the next and slowly jog back to the start. Vary the start of the sprint to make the exercise more sport specific. For example...
Face backwards, lie down, jump up, pretend to receive a pass, jump to head a ball etc.

2. Rolling Start
Exactly the same as above except you jog for 10 metres before sprinting. This exercise is specifically designed to enhance acceleration rather than speed off the mark. Try running backwards or side stepping as well.

3. Up Hill Sprints
In competition the first few strides are crucial. Running up a slight hill (about 30 degrees) helps to develop power and acceleration. Keep the distances short (10-15 metres) and allow extra rest between sets and reps.

4. Down Hill Sprints (Over speed training)
Down hill agility drills help to develop leg speed and co-ordination. This is sometimes referred to as overspeed training. Keep the distance short (10-15 metres) and make sure the hill is only slight.

5. Hollow Sprints
Set 5 cones out in 30 metres intervals. Sprint 30 metres, jog 30 metres, sprint 30 metres and jog 30 metres to the final cone. Walk back to the start and repeat.

6. Cruise And Sprint
Mark out a distance of 100 metres. From the start gradually accelerate to reach full speed at about 60 metres. Sprint all out for the final 40 metres.
Reduce the number of repetitions for this exercise as it takes longer to complete.

7. Ladder Runs
A ladder is simple training device that helps to improve co-ordination and leg speed. It is particularly useful for sports that require excellent footwork. A ladder is well worth the investment if you are training an entire team. If you plan to train alone use a series of rolled up towels instead...

8. The Snake
Set up a series of 6-8 cones in a straight line about 1 metre apart. Weave through the cones, turn and weave through back to the start.

9. Follow The Leader
A training partner and large area is required for this exercise. Have your training partner jog, run and sprint randomly over a large area. You must try to shadow her as closely as possible. This is an excellent exercise that helps to develop reaction time, acceleration and speed endurance

  ...Coach in Action will also go through the basic tackling skills...

The Block Tackle

The football block tackle technique is an essential skill, because any team must be able to win the ball. If you cannot tackle you are left relying on intercepting passes when your opponents make a mistake. Tackling allows you to compete for the ball, and take the initiative. Beginners should start with the block tackle before learning the sliding tackle.

The block tackle starts by planting the non-tackling foot firmly on the ground to provide a firm anchor. The inside of the foot is used for tackling, not the toe, and it's important to put the full weight of the body behind the football, and to get the head down over the ball. In the photographs, notice how the player making the tackle is well-balanced, but the player being tackled has been caught off balance.

As with any tackling skill, timing is crucial. Try to tackle when your opponent is off balance, or lets the football go too far in front of him. This is often called "showing too much of the ball". Another good time to tackle is when your opponent looks down at the ball.

The Sliding Tackle

The sliding tackle or recovery tackle is an essential soccer skill requiring timing and technique. It's not just defenders, who need to be able to tackle. Even forwards should be able to make a sliding tackle. The football team that can tackle well can take much of the initiative away from the opposition, denying them space, and putting them under pressure.

It's best to tackle with the foot that is furthest from the ball. This gives you extra reach, and reduces the chances of giving away a foul. The sliding tackle is best made from a square position with your leg going out to the side rather than straight in front of you.

Timing is vital, and takes plenty of exercise to get right. The key factors for any player are to watch the ball carefully, try to anticipate your opponents move without being distracted, and to always go for the ball. If you get a foot on the ball first, there is no foul, but if you miss the ball, you will give away a free kick or be "left for dead".

A drill for the recovery tackle is for one player, acting as winger to run with the ball down a narrow "corridor" towards the touchline. He is given a head start over the defender, who chases after him, and tries to make a sliding tackle putting the ball into touch. The winger must try to reach the touchline without being tackled. 

Remember the rules of the game - do not use excessive force, be in control at all times, no two-footed tackles and be sure to connect with the ball!!! 

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