Just because an athlete looks quick doesn't necessarily mean he is. Jeff Howser, speed coach for Duke's men's and women's soccer teams, explains: "Quickness is how fast you can change direction. Quick people are those who use the fewest steps to change direction. Generally, people who look quick are the ones who take one or two extra steps. Their movements are quick, but really their change of direction isn't."
To improve his athletes' ability to change direction, Howser uses a specific plan, which has some very specific dos and don'ts.
Your quickness training first and your conditioning second.
Your quickness training before you lift.
Some kind of "shake down" run after quickness drills if you don't immediately follow them with conditioning. This keeps your legs loose and facilitates recovery.
Rotational movements, because that's how the game of soccer is played.
Incorporate plyometric work.
Try quickness drills in the sand to improve your acceleration, turning and balance.
Sets of 5-6 reps with a decent amount of recovery.
Rest one day between intense workouts to allow nervous system to recover.
Do lots of distance running; it reinforces slower motor patterns, and you're trying to build quicker ones.
Perform quickness training when your body is fatigued, because these drills require quality movements.
Immediately follow a hard lifting day with a quickness workout.
Take extra steps when making a cut. Try to minimize steps and change direction without repositioning your feet.
Train heavy a few days before a game.
Train heavy throughout the season.
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