It’s cold. It’s raining. But you’re a footballer and you need to train. Luckily help is at hand: the days of simply running up and down the steps of your local town hall or lifting a medicine ball above your head are thankfully long gone. Today, there is a huge range of sophisticated training aids out there to help you improve your game.
Whether you’re a player or a coach, here are five must-haves to pack alongside your boots and shin pads in your football kit bag.
1. Speed resistor
This simple training aid can give results when working with a team or in a one-on-one training session. A resistor improves your sprint power and speed as you work against the strength of a teammate or coach, helping you build that all important explosive sprint start.
2. Training cones
They’re so common it’s sometimes easy to forget just how effective the good old training cone can be. Use them during running drills, dribbling exercises or even just as makeshift goalposts – they won’t let you down. Remember to always collect them up at the end of training and they’ll be a friend for life.
3. Speed/resistance parachute
A slightly more exciting addition to the speed resistor, a resistance parachute is perfect for conditioning players and working on that explosive turn of speed. It might look amusing but using this piece of equipment involves a lightweight parachute being tied to the back of a player through a harness to add resistance when sprinting. When running with a parachute you will develop increased take-off power and muscle strength, which will improve stride length and running form.
4. Speed ladder
Speed ladders can be used for speed footwork drills, short sprint exercises and agility exercises. Training typically involves following a set pattern through a ladder that lays flat on the floor. By moving your feet inside and outside of the rungs of the ladder, the goal is to increase speed while still maintaining the pattern. It’s a classic but that’s because it works.
5. Reaction belts
Reaction belts are brilliant fun. You put your belts on and partner up with a training partner only to realise you’re linked together by a rip chord. It’s a real test of speed, agility and reaction time and is used in a variety of sports in addition to football, such as tennis and ice hockey, where a quick turn of direction is vital.