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Best Soccer Footwork Drills You Can Do Without a Ball

Just because you don't have a ball handy doesn't mean you can't improve your footwork! Here are some of the best soccer footwork drills you can do without a ball.

What do you do when the soccer season ends? You can't just sit around all those months—you need to keep yourself sharp and hone your skills. There are some obvious things you can do to stay healthy, like eat smarter and play pickup games with your friends. It's not enough to tread water though: You need to constantly be working to improve your technique. Luckily, there are plenty of exercises you can do no matter what your resources are. Even if you are already doing soccer exercises to improve your speed and power, there are soccer footwork drills you can do without a ball, agility exercises you can do without a field, and speed exercises you can do without a partner.

One-on-One Direction Changing

Photo by Ben Wiens on Unsplash

This direction changing exercise is a great way to improve your agility, and is one of the best soccer footwork drills you can do without a ball. While you don't need a soccer ball, you do need a buddy. Set up a line of cones and take turns being the leader and follower. The leader must change direction at least two times as they navigate toward the final cone, and its up to the follower to react quickly to keep on the leader's tail. Done properly, this drill helps up your reaction time and your ability to turn quickly.


Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Unsplash

This exercise is similar to the one-on-one direction changing drill except instead of chasing after your partner, the two of you face each other so that your left foot is in line with your partner's right foot, and so on. Just like before, take turns being the "leader." Whatever the leader does, the "mirror" player must try to follow exactly. It works extremely well at developing your footwork in much the same ways as the directional drill. You can decide on a specific set of movements to be performed in a random order, or you can just wing it and get creative with the exercise.

Cone Patterns

Photo by Eduardo Flores on Unsplash

Setting up various cone patterns is one of the best soccer footwork drills you can do without a ball because, when executed properly, the placement of the cones can accurately replicate the sorts of maneuvers you'll have to perform in-game. Set up four cones in a sort of triangle, then run, shuffle, and backpedal between any two cones in the formation.

Obstacle Course

Photo by matthew Feeney on Unsplash

The classics are classic for a reason: A well thought-out obstacle course can help you jump higher, run faster, and all that jazz. Use whatever hurdles, cones, and sticks are at your disposal and arrange them in various manners, such as a row of hurdles to jump over or cones to navigate. Set each "zone" up about 10 yards away from the previous zone, and sprint between each of them. This will help you build a combination of speed and accurate footwork.

Dot Drills

Photo by Fachry Zella Devandra on Unsplash

Even when you're not on the soccer field, there's a lot you can do at home to work toward a more successful soccer career. Dot drills are a great way to work on some high speed footwork without having to leave the comfort of your own home. You can buy specially designed dot drill mats, but really all you need is tape or another way to mark spots on your floor. A wide variety of dot drills is available online, so it should be easy to keep things interesting while working to increase your speed and agility, although the ever popular toe taps is one of the most resounding soccer drills you can practice at home if you need an idea now.


Photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash

Agility ladders are among the best soccer training equipment for your team, as well as one of the most useful tools for creating effective soccer drills. The best part is you don't even need to do anything out of the norm: Any standard ladder drill will help with your accuracy and agility. If you've never used a ladder in this way before, start slowly; the exercise is effective at any speed. Once you develop a familiarity with the ladder, that's when it's time to speed the drill up and introduce new and unusual patterns.

Indoor Stair Stepping

Photo by Zoltan Kovacs on Unsplash

One of the worst feelings is when it's rainy out and you don't have access to a good indoor field or any other resources to work on your agility. Luckily, there are a couple soccer footwork drills you can do without a ball, a field, or any other special equipment. "Stair stepping" with a ball is its own unique drill, but you can also use just, you know, stairs. Jump on the bottom step with one foot at a time and do your best to balance on the balls of your feet. While not quite as difficult and effective as using a ball for this, it is definitely a serviceable exercise in a tight space.

Wind Sprints

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Wind sprints are an effective form of exercise no matter what sport you play, and they can be performed on any sort of field or open area. The general idea is to alternate running at your top speed with jogging at a more moderate pace. The ideal approach is to set up cones around a field an equal distance from each other to control your pacing, but you can use whatever means you wish. If you have a soccer ball handy, dribble the ball while you do your wind sprints to work on your ball control at different speeds.

Diamond Drills

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Star drills are a great way to work on your footwork and agility in short distances. All you need is five cones: Set four of them up in a square with sides between five and fifteen yards each, then place the final cone in the center. Navigate your way from one of the outside cones to the center cone, then on to any other outside cone. Continue as desired. If you want to work on your ball control alongside your footwork, you can introduce a soccer ball into the mix. Simply dribble the ball as you do these exercises.

Red Light, Green Light

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

This schoolyard classic game is actually a great activity if you're training with your team. It's a great ice breaker and warm up game because of its relative simplicity, but believe it or not, it also has useful applications. If you don't know the basic rules of the game, it's very simple: Everyone lines up on one side of the field, and the coach or a designated player on the other side shouts "green light" or "red light." As you might guess, green means go and red means stop. The goal is to be the first to make it to the opposite side of the field, but if you get caught moving on red, you have to go back to the beginning. This sort of rapid stopping and starting makes Red Light, Green Light one of the best soccer footwork drills you can do without a ball.

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