I’ve heard it many a time from parents. “Once little Johnny gets up to speed, he is pretty fast. It is getting there that is the problem.”
The first step is huge in sports, especially in soccer. You need every advantage you can get to get to the ball before your opponent. Soccer is typically played in an area of short sprints. If it takes you awhile to get up to speed, by the time you get there someone else has the ball doing with it what they please.
The first step in soccer is comprised of reaction, explosiveness, and strength. If the first step explosion isn’t natural for your soccer player, then it needs to be trained just like anything else in soccer.
So how do you do that?
I think one of the best ways is using a device called the prowler. Something we have been using at our facility. It is basically a sled that you load up with weight and depending on the apparatus you can push it or pull it. It has handles that are 2 to 3 feet long sticking straight up in the air to keep your body in proper acceleration alignment as you push it.
The drill you can use for your soccer players is this:
- Figure out a weight that your athlete can push keeping his/her body in the proper accelerating position. Your body should be at a lean at about 75-80 degrees with no break in the hip. Somewhat of a straight line from heel to head.
- You are going to push the sled for two steps – as fast as you can as far as you can move it. Just two steps.
- Time the movement and measure how far you get.
- The better and quicker you can move that sled, the better your first step will be.
- You can start with just the athlete moving on their own mark. Then shift it to where you yell go to work on their reaction as well.
- You can also shift it to a movement reaction. Stand next to the athlete and when you move they move.
We do this drill with other athletes in different sports. If you are consistent with this drill and continue to work on it, you will naturally improve your first step. This will give your soccer player another weapon in the arsenal to use.