Offensive Agility with the National Champs

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Call it soccer. Call it futbol. At the University of Maryland, it doesn't matter what you call it as long as you respect the game on the pitch.

In the past seven years, the Terrapins men's team has won two ACC titles, advanced to five College Cups [claiming national titles in 2005 and 2008], and produced more than 20 MLS players, two of whom were number-one picks. You don't rack up honors like that without solid agility training.

To quicken his Terp strikers' ability to change direction, separate from defenders and score, Barry Kagan, the team's S+C coach, has them work on moving without the ball. "Agility is seen as the ability to maintain speed through a change of direction," he says. "In soccer, you're always changing direction—making agility a necessity for good positioning and good balance."

Kagan continues, "The stronger you get your lower body and core, along with improving your foot speed, the better off you will be as a soccer player." To achieve all of these goals and remain a top NCAA soccer program, the Terps perform the Five-Spot Square at least once a week during summer off-season training.

Five-Spot Square [See diagram for setup]

• Start in low athletic stance at middle cone, facing hurdles
• Sprint to front left hurdle
• Hop with both feet over hurdle and back; repeat once
• Drop step; sprint back to start
• Immediately sprint to right hurdle
• Hop with both feet over hurdle and back; repeat once
• Sprint through start, then to back left cone
• Fall onto back, then get up to athletic stance without using arms [rock upper body upward]; turn, sprint back to start
• Immediately sprint to back right cone
• Fall onto back, then get up to athletic stance without using arms [rock upper body upward]; turn, sprint back to start

Sets/Reps/Rest: 3x5 reps, 1 minute

Adaptation for Goalies: Face forward entire time, and run laterally back to each cone // Dive at corner cones rather than lie on your back

Coaching Points: Keep hips low // Don't lock out your knees // Make sharp, quick cuts when sprinting back to middle // When taking your drop step, focus on the ground to simulate the ball coming towards you // Do not hop for height // Sprint the entire time


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock