In the modern era speed and agility are one of the most essential assets a player can attain but training for this purpose is often overlooked. One of the simplest ways to boost this attribute is by implementing the speed ladder into your training routine. The benefits of the speed ladder help improve footwork, coordination and mental concentration. A sample workout that takes no more than 20 minutes can be seen below
Straight Run (one foot in each) x3 repetitions
In n Out Hope (two-foot hop inside two feet hop outside) x3 repetitions
Continuous Hop( Two footed) x3 repetitions
Two Footed Sprint x3 repetitions
180-degree high knee sprint(two-footed) x3 repetitions
180-degree double jump (miss one space) x3 repetitions
Thunderbolt Step/Zigzag(forward and backward diagonally through)x3 repetitions
If you are new to the speed ladder be sure to take each exercise slowly and focus on getting the technique right. As you perform more repetitions, the technique will come where you can begin to increase the tempo of each drill. This is due to the science behind how our muscles work. Muscle memory is a type of motor learning called procedural memory occurring in the brain, of course. Through the act of repetition, your brain cements the action into its neural pathways so that the movement becomes second nature. This is exactly what you want. At the same time, there is something called Muscle Adaptation where our body becomes used to the movement and exercises we may be doing which is why it is vital to continue to challenge ourselves once we have reached the point where each drill can be done with ease. Not only do our muscles need to be tested but so does our brain and this is a way to improve both aspects at the same time while working on fitness, so it is a great way to knock out three birds with one stone.
As you begin to advance within performing each exercise you should look to add more game realistic scenarios to it for example upon completing one set, setting off with a burst of pace in a specific direction to train muscle memory when carrying out the motion which you will look to replicate in your game. This subconsciously builds good habits into your form and technique when looking to make changes in direction or a quick dash.
As an aspiring soccer player, all aspects of your game should be worked on, and this is one side of the game that is ignored but really consumes the least time in comparison to more technical drills. It can easily be added to the beginning or end of a session, so there are no excuses, get out there!