We all need a little help right? Getting the right soccer training aids may be that little bit of help you may need to get your edge on the competition. Whether you're training on your own and need the right equipment or if your team needs them we all need to make sure we have the right stuff for the job.
If you've ever wondered what types of soccer training aids the pro's use compared to the rest of us mere mortals feel free to have a deep look through all the things that make them elite teams with elite equipment. If you want to be able to throw a few things in a bag and train on your own a few times a week then below you'll find all the must haves that won't break the bank and will keep you fit and and your touch sharp. Not all training aids are created equal so make sure you know what your buying and more importantly you know how to use it before you start pushing your body to the limits with these things. What are you looking at me for?
I know we all want the fancy gear Real Madrid and Manchester City are using but before all those players turned pro they trained on their own with just the basics. Those basics included a ball, some cones and maybe a speed ladder, you need to have those three things and access to a goal and you will be more than on your way to training at a high level. So what are you waiting for? Let's get to training already.
1. Ball - Well duh! A standard size 5 ball is a must, even get a few of them if you can manage it because there's nothing worse then working on shooting and having to get your ball after every shot. Be sure to buy quality and go with name brands that will last you longer then a few shots on goal, try and get a similar ball to that you will be playing with in whatever league you play in, if not any Nike, Adidas or Puma ball will work just fine.
2. Cones - A set of 8 to 10 cones are great for any dribbling, passing, shooting or conditioning drills you may want to do on a particular day. Cones have great versatility and are easy to carry from pitch to pitch and workout to workout. A full set is great but for starters 8 to 10 cones should be able to do the trick.
3. Speed Ladder - A speed ladder is great to throw in your bag and use anytime you feel like getting a little speed work in. Reasonably priced and light weight every serious player should have one of these in their bag at all times. Any 10 to 15 minute break you have in your day can turn into a speed ladder workout as you can open it up in seconds and use on literally any surface.
4. Pop Up Goal - If you can get your hands on a portable goal of any size (bigger then better) you will never be at the mercy of a net on a field near you being in use. You can literally go to any park or open field and open up your own net and start working on your game. There are so many easy to carry and set up portable goals that carrying one around with you can be as easy as carrying a ball.
5. Nike Run Club App - Okay this is an easy free one. Download the Nike Run Club App on your phone will allow you to track any of your runs by time and distance without using any data. You get your own personal coach in your pocket now that you have the cones and ladders down. You can't beat free!!
1. GPS Vests - These vests you may see pro players wearing from time to time look like undersized tank tops that track all types of different metrics. These metrics include intensity of sprints, distance covered, volume of output and many many more. They aren't cheap either so if you think of getting one for yourself they retail on the low end at about $125, maybe worth the investment big spender.
2. Heart Rate Monitors - Heart rate monitors are that strap looking thing that goes on the skin just under chest on the rip cage. This monitors several things including your heart rate, how hard you're working and oxygen intake and output to name a few. These go a little cheaper then gps vests for about $60 - $80 so pretty reasonable once you hook it up to your phone or Ipad to get some interesting analysis.
3. Resistance Bands - Resistance bands are an easy cheap way to train like a pro. Many pro team include these as part of their warm up before games and training to strengthen the tendons in the body. These are great for building strength between the joints along with helping you recover from an injury while trying to get your muscle or tendon strength back. Super cheap too, you can probably get a box of 5 or 10 of them for $20 or so.
4. Agility Poles - These are those long skinny poles you see pro's weaving through during the warm up or position specific technical drill. They are pretty easy to set up and are self explanatory but not a mandatory item if you're just looking to train on your own, cones will do the trick.
5. Timing Gates - These gates are done with lasers and sensors that start the time as soon as you cross them at the beginning and end of your sprint. They are great for accurate sprint, fitness and agility workouts to improve conditioning and gather team data in an accurate and efficient way.
1. Anti-Gravity Treadmill - This bad boy is just like a regular treadmill but with none of the impact on your joints. This is used typically for players that are coming back from injury that can't put too much pressure on their lower body (knee, ankle, foot) but still want to recover with a natural running motion. The anti gravity treadmill lifts you by the hips so you're not actually fully on the ground but suspended just above the treadmill to reduce the impact, one of many fantastic soccer training aids at the pro level. See a great video demonstration here.
2. Cryotherapy Chamber - Often refereed to as cold therapy is a process at which a person walks into a chamber at incredibly cold temperatures (-130 degrees!) for one minute at a time to help reduce inflation and for overall muscle and joint recovery. See for yourself with this video demo, Cryotherapy Chamber video demo.
3. Footbonaut Soccer Chamber - This german designed chamber tests your vision, technical ability and decision making all in one. Essentially a ball is shot from different squares in a square around you and you need to distribute the ball into another square that lights up in the chamber. Check out the full video at this link, Footbaonaut video demo.
4. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy - Is a process where oxygen is increased by three or four times the regular rate to help a player recover their body rapidly. This can be done in a specially designed room or portable zip up bag you lay in. Just watch Lebron James use it in this video here, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy video.
5. Sleep Pods - These are exactly as they sound, little pods that have either water you can float in or beds in them to grab a quick nap. Sleep has become the next competitive advantage that pro teams are starting to invest in and several top clubs have these sleep pods around their facilities. They say a 10-15minute nap in these things have tremendous benefits for recovery. This is cream of the crop elite equipment we're talking about, looks like Man Utd have stepped up their soccer training aids by adding a few of them, watch the video here, sleep pods and at ManUtd.
1. Ball On A String Trainer - Just stay away from this at any age. The point of learning to juggle is not so it is easy to do right away but you struggle and find solutions to solve the problem until you get good at it. It is through those struggles you figure it all out and having the ball attached to a string just isn't a realistic way to improve and something that won't help you learn to juggle.
2. Ankle Weights - Famously worn by Ronaldo by training has actually shown that it can do more harm than good. Stick to playing and training for the game as realistic as humanly possible, no gimmicks no tricks but bare bones a ball, some cleats and some elbow grease.
3. Running Parachute - Easy Usain Bolt although this parachute may have some small benefits with regards to resistant training it isn't worth the hassles that come along with it. Stick to basic sprint workouts and you'll accomplish a lot more than trying these circus tricks. The best soccer training aids are the simplest so stick to a ball, cones, a goal and a speed ladder and you'll accomplish everything you desire.
1. Keep It Simple - Rule number 1 you don't need all the fancy bells and whistles when it comes to soccer training aids. Wait until you sign that big pro contract to start using all the fancy stuff, for now be sure to get the basics listed above and anything above and beyond that see if you can use here and there when someone else provides it for you. Stick to using a ball, cones, a goal and s peed ladder and you'll be able to accomplish virtually everything you will ever need to improve your game.
2. Asks If You Don't Know - If there's a piece of equipment you want to try be sure to ask someone how to use it if you're not comfortable or don't know what the hell it is. Some things can be confusing so don't be a hero and risk hurting yourself, ask or look it up online for instructions to make sure you're using it how it is intended.
3. Always Try Before Buying - As nice as it may look online and as much as you think the new fancy piece of equipment is going to change your game be sure you try it in store or borrow a friends before going out and buying it. Maybe a different size or version works best for you so don't go blindly shopping online until you know exactly what you're buying.
4. If It Ain't Broke - If the piece of equipment you have does the trick then don't go spending money on the latest greatest thing that isn't going to make any difference to your training. Focus on the important pieces and use everything you have until it breaks, from the beginning of time the basics have always done the trick so don't go replacing them for no good reason. Worry about buying and replacing the most important pieces to your training such as cleats, balls and maybe some cones.