Three Soccer Agility and Ball Handling Workouts: Play (Kinda) Like Messi

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Soccer Ball and Feet
May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. The office culture at Life Fitness promotes activity and daily workouts every month of the year.

Chris, our copywriter, is as skilled on the pitch as he is working with words. Once the weather warms up, our biggest soccer fan spends his lunch break working on his footwork and his cardio and perfecting a few drills that you can do anywhere. All you need for this soccer workout is a ball, a few cones and some energy.

Agility and Ball Handling Workouts

Lionel Messi’s legs have their own magnetic field. For him, the ball is a magnet. For normal humans, ball handling and agility have to be controlled with natural forces—like training, practice and technique. We’ve designed three exercises (named after famous soccer icons) that help develop agility and ball handling like Messi. They target the cardiovascular system and also offer periods of high intensity interval training.

Metronomes (inspired by Andrea Pirlo)

Graphic of a soccer workout
This sets the pace for the rest of the session. It’s provides a starting point for ball handling, agility, technique and tactical practice. When legs are fresh, ball control is at its best.
  • Starting point has the ball and cones or markers in a line of 6 to 12.
  • After the cones, mark 40 yards for a sprint (with the ball). Note: The 40-yard dash is a common marker of agility and acceleration. In soccer, sprints aren't done by themselves, so to mimic the game we added it to the middle of the exercise. 
  • At the end of the 40-yard dash (with the ball), begin doing toe touches backwards toward the starting spot.
  • In each repetition, switch the direction of toe touches (i.e., the second set will be toe touches facing the starting spot or to the side). Note: This activates more muscles used for directional changes.
  • Repeat 4 to 8 times.

Great Ones (inspired by Mourinho)

Soccer workout graphic
This is the where the real work comes in. The harder and faster you push yourself here, the better your results.
  • Place a ball 15 feet before 6 – 12 evenly spaced cones or markers in a line.
  • Picture a square with four corners around the ball. Jump to each corner as fast as you can for 30 seconds, trying to bring your feet over the height of the ball. Every repetition should change direction.
  • After the 30 seconds, juke (without the ball) through the cones and then sprint through the 40-yard dash.
  • Return by jogging backwards toward the starting spot.
  • Repeat 4 to 8 times.

    Fleas (inspired by Messi)

    Fleas soccer workout graphic
    This is where focus and concentration are crucial to ball handling and agility. Performance here is measured against the initial Metronomes exercises.
    • Starting point has the ball and 6 to 12 cones or markers spaced in a zig-zag. Note: We suggest 6-feet wide and 10-feet long staggered spacing for optimal performance.
    • After the cones, mark 40 yards for a dash (with the ball).
    • At the end of the 40-yard dash (with the ball), begin doing toe touches backwards toward the starting spot.
    • Every two repetitions should switch direction of toe touches (i.e., the third set will be toe touches facing the starting spot or to the side).
    • Repeat 4 to 8 times.
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