Skilful footwork can improve acceleration, agility and balance. But get a two-in-one benefit by using footwork ladders to also develop your players’ heads-up decision-making. It’s a simple session to improve agility in decision-making exercises – and very easy to set up and vary. MORE
Curves and jumps
Improve players’ footwork going forward, so they beat the opposition, or at least create a chance for a good offload in contact. This is a simple session to set up and can be adjusted easily to suit the stages of your players’ development.
Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 8-10
Development time: 10-15
Game time: 10-15
Warm down time: 5-8
What to think about
Having balls to run between rather than cones forces players to think more about where they are running. Cones tend to be stepped on or knocked. Somehow a ball is more of a deterrent.
Some players pick up these footwork exercises very quickly while others will take a long time. Praise improvement over success. Challenge the quicker players to be bolder in their turns or jumps. Change the positioning of the balls to give slower players more space to move.
- Run hard at the gaps and then cut hard to the next gap.
- Feel in control of where you are moving. Start slow and build up.
- Attack the defender and then attack the gap – move him to where you want.
What you get your players to do
Mark out a starting gate and two turning points as in picture 1. Get each player to run through the curve, first at jogging pace, then speeding up. Once he has done one direction of curve, he should move to the next. (You can have a several different curved courses depending on numbers).
Then set up the balls as in picture 2. Players run simultaneously to the first gate, with one of the players having to slow down to let the other through (demonstrating footwork and awareness). Once through the gate, they turn sharply to get around the outside ball.
Stand a player about 3m in front of two balls laid in a line (see picture 3). Put yourself about 5m behind the balls.
Get the player to run forward, jump, land on two feet and then step off in the direction you are pointing to. By landing on both feet, the player is able to to move off in any direction.
Put four attackers at one end of a 20m x 10m channel. Get two defenders to start about 5m in front of them. The attackers move forward.
The first defender runs back 3m and turns to defend. The other defender runs back 10m and then turns to defend. The attackers have to beat both defenders. Move to full contact as soon as possible.
What to call out
- “Run on the balls of your feet, grip the ground with your toes when you cut hard”
- “Push towards your limit – learn your balance”