While a Covid-19 is on the horizon, there’s still a chance of further lockdowns over the next six months. If you’re worried about losing your competitive edge during the next lockdown, there are a few football activities you can try at home. All you need to get started is a small outdoor area such as a garden and some essential items of football equipment.
Showboating is always lots of fun, and it’s a great way to get noticed on the pitch. But simply showboating in your own garden can help you to develop a few key skills. Start with the universal language of keep-ups. See how many you can do before losing control of the ball. Gradually, increase the difficulty levels. For example, you could ask a member of your household to run interference. Or you might add a new rule, such as using alternate feet.
Showboating isn’t just for show. It develops touch, control, concentration, balance and lower-body strength. If you have enough space and want to mix things up a little, try your showboating with a rebounder net. This mobile item of football training equipment consists of a stretchable net held in place within a plastic or metal frame. Kick your ball at the net, and wait for it to bounceback. Take one or two touches to send the ball back to the net, and so on. The bounces are unpredictable, which makes you work harder to control each rebound.
Solo Cone Drills
This is the kind of training the elite professionals do on a weekly basis. But with the right equipment, you can do it in your own garden. Set out a series of cones at regular intervals. At speed, dribble around the cones from one end of your makeshift course to the next. Turn a full 180 degrees, and dribble back to the start. You can also use markers or slalom poles for this exercise.
Get creative with your cone drill courses. Add sharp turns, shooting and keep-ups at certain points of your course. Over the course of lockdown, you should be able to develop your balance, control, touch and agility. This is also a fun way to maintain your fitness levels until competitive action returns.
This might be a little tricky if you’re struggling for space. However, just three or four metres should be enough to get things going. If you have a wall, start with some two-touch short passing. Pass the ball against the wall, control the ball on its return, then send it back. You can experiment with three-and four touch passing.
To help your ball-reading abilities and reflexes, try some one-touch passing. When the ball returns from the wall, make the next pass without controlling it. If you don’t have a wall, a rebounder net is a good alternative.
A lack of competitive action will inevitably have a detrimental effect on your agility, as well as your lower-body strength, fitness and balance. But if you can find the space, an agility ladder can help you maintain these crucial attributes until the end of lockdown.
There are several effective drills you can try, the most simple of which is the single-foot sprint. Using alternate feet, run across the agility ladder, ensuring just one foot enters each square at a time. Lift your knees as high as you can with each step. You can also try the two-foot sprint, which involves landing both feet in the same square with two separate steps before moving to the next square.
Agility ladders are easy to store and set-up, but they are limited in terms of how you can set them up. If you want a little more freedom to create your own assault courses, a set of agility hurdles might be the answer. Just a few inches tall, these weather-proof items of equipment can be unpacked and set out in seconds. They stand just a few inches tall, and they fall back to an upright position if you mistakenly kick them over.
Now it’s time for jumpers as goalposts. If you don’t have your own mobile football goal, create your own. If you have a wall, draw a goal with chalk. Spend a few minutes shooting with both feet from a range of angles. If you want to mix things up a little, try a pass against a wall and shoot first-time when the ball returns. And if you don’t have a wall you can use, place a rebounder next to your goal.
These are exceptional times. The coronavirus epidemic has profoundly affected grassroots football in the UK. And we don’t know when this cycle of lockdowns and social restrictions will come to an end. But it will end. And when it does, you can be ready for competitive action by staying sharp and match-fit.