How to Improve Agility in Football – Essential for Modern Football

Player with football


Football is becoming more and more fast paced by the year, dribbling the football around players is becoming almost as popular as a simple pass. This is why, no matter where you play on the pitch, agility is becoming increasingly important to stand a chance in the modern game of football. In this guide I am going to be showing you how to improve agility in football and giving you my favourite drills in order to do just that.


Before I get started, I am going to explain what agility is, and why it is so important in the modern game in a little more detail.


Agility means being able to change your body position quickly and efficiently by using a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, and endurance. So, how does this relate to football? Well, being unpredictable in football is very important which means not letting the defender know what you are going to do next.


lady dribbling football

You become unpredictable by being able to change directions without giving any hints that you are planning to do so, this means doing it quickly. If we link back to the definition of agility, it’s moving your body position quickly and efficiently, hopefully you are now starting to see the importance of agility and how it can improve your game massively.


One last thing before we start, as you may remember me saying earlier, agility is important no matter where you play on the pitch. It may seem like so far, we have just talked about using agility as an attacker. Well, if you are defending and you have this really unpredictable attacker to mark, who has amazing agility, the only way you are going to be able to keep up with him is by matching that agility and being able to follow his every move.


So, now we have explained what exactly agility is, and gone into some more depth about why it is useful, hopefully you now want to read on as you understand how much it can improve your game. So, finally, I shall begin.



Coloured Cones –



You will need:                                                                                            Set up like this:

  • Minimum of 4 different coloured cones
  • Coloured Cones2 people
  • Football (optional)
  • Stop watch (optional, could count instead)






This drill is pretty simple, but is great for improving your agility in all different directions, as well as changing directions, stopping and starting and also your mental agility (It is a thing, promise!).


You will have one person standing in the middle of all 4 cones. You will also have one person standing on the outside ready to call out colours. It is up to you on how long you want to do each round, however I recommend 1 minute. For the sake of convenience, we will call the player in the middle of the cones, player 1 and the player on the outside player 2. When player 2 starts the stop watch, it is their job to shout out a colour. Player 1 must run and touch the corresponding colour as quickly as possible, then back to the middle where the process starts again, simple right?


It is important that player 1 does not turn and run forwards to each one, instead they much face one direction and either run forwards, side step or run backwards to each cone. Also, the best way to do this is to take a good look at the positions of the cones beforehand. When the drill starts, don’t look around, trust your memory.


Ways to make it harder:


  • Increase the amount of cones.
  • Increase the time.
  • Increase the distance from the centre to each cone.
  • Add a football and dribble with the ball to each cone, this then improves ball control as well.

Shuttle Runs –

You will need:                                                                                                                Set up like this:

  • Minimum of 4 conesShuttle Run
  • Football (optional)
  • 1 person (Can have more)

I’m sure you are aware of shuttle runs, if not I will explain what they are in a moment. This drill is great for agility but also, depending on how you want to run it, sprint speed and/or cardiovascular endurance.

The way you want to run this drill is as follows: Start at one end of the line of cones, this will be your starting cone. When your time begins you must run to the closest cone, touch it, then run back to your starting cone. Then run to the second cone, touch that one and run back to your starting cone. Keep doing this until you have run to the furthest cone and back which is when you will have one set.

As you can imagine, there are lots of ways that you can increase or reduce the intensity of this drill and also you can tailor it around specific things. For example, you can sprint and make the amount of sets smaller, or jog and make the sets more.

Ways to make it harder:

  • Increase the amount of cones.
  • Increase the amount of sets.
  • Add an exercise to do when you reach each cone (5 press-ups or 10 sit ups).
  • Add hurdles to jump over as you are running.
  • Add a football to dribble to each cone.
  • Could add a footballing drill at the end of the set, for example once you reach the final cone have a shot on goal.


Follow me –

You will need:

  • 2 people

This drill is the most simple drill on this list, and it requires no equipment except 2 people. I didn’t even need to make a set up diagram as it would literally just be 2 stick men standing next to each other! Even though it is simple, it is no less useful than any of the other, slightly more complex drills. This one, in fact, is the one of the most relevant to an actual football situation.


Stand facing each other, around 2 meters away. Choose the runner and the chaser, this will swap around so don’t worry too much. When the time begins, the runner is trying to side step away from the chaser, changing directions as much as needed as long as you stay on one horizontal line. The chasers job is to try to match the runners every move without being left behind. Once the time runs out, swap roles and go again.


I would suggest between 30 seconds and a minute per round for this one, as it is a high intensity drill.



Ways to make it harder:


  • Increase the time.
  • Add a football, if you lose the ball as you are dribbling, you lose.
  • Increase ‘change’ element, have someone else who is not taking part shout ‘change’ at any point to swap the roles of chaser and runner immediately.

Circuits –


There are multiple different things you can use for circuits and you can tailor them completely to what you want to specifically target. I am going to give you a few ideas on what to put in your circuit but these are just ideas, feel free to add whatever you feel necessary and change the timings to how you see fit. The ideas I’m going to give are going to be on how to improve agility, however if you want to target a few different aspects in football, then feel free.



Ladder runs –


Training ladder


There are multiple ways you can use training ladders, and you can be completely creative with it. It may be worth doing a YouTube search on different ways to use training ladders as there are so many to chose from, ranging from simple to more complex.


These are great because they can improve your footwork and how quickly you can move your feet which is a huge factor of agility in football.



Hurdles –


You can use hurdles to improve your explosive strength as well as your agility, there are various ways you can use these too. For example, you can use larger ones or smaller ones, you can do standing jumps with both feet over or feet one at a time. You can also just use one hurdle and jump over it forwards and then backwards and repeat that process.



Slalom runs –


You can place poles, or cones on the floor in a pattern in order to create a slalom run. This increases the speed of which you can change directions at speed, which is hugely important in football. You can also add in a football and dribble it around the slalom run which increases ball control too.



Create your own –


This list is just giving you a few ideas of things you can do, but it is not difficult to think of ways yourself. Even if you are using my ideas as a template and adding your own tweaks to it to make it a little more interesting. Thinking up your own ideas is often good because it then means nobody has done them before so it can be more enjoyable.


Enjoyment is the key to everything within football, you are doing it for fun so why make it into a chore. There are plenty of ways to make things into a competition, or game whilst also making them hugely beneficial to your skills.


If you have any other ideas, or just have a question about anything football related then please feel free to leave them in the comment section below and I look forward to responding to them.


Thank you for reading,


My Soccer Apparel.

8 Replies to “How to Improve Agility in Football – Essential for Modern Football”

  1. These are all great drills and for more than just football; they’re fun drills I’ve actually had my training clients do in the past because while it’s great cardio and speed training, it’s a fun way to mix up a workout as well. These are great to get anyone’s heart rate up and a cool new challenge for anyone looking to mix up their workouts and for those involved in football, to improve their game.

    1. Hi Todd, yes I definitely agree, these drills can be great for anyone just for an interesting challenge! Especially because I feel that workouts are tailored around the gym so much these days, there isn’t much variety for people who find the gym boring… me 🙂

  2. These are all fun drills that would work for many sports. I enjoy ladder drills and shuttle runs for boxing. Great illustrations and instructions.

  3. Great post, these are enjoyable drills! your illustrations are very clear. I love the way to make it more challenging! it would be more enjoyable too
    Thank you for sharing

  4. How much football has changed cannot be understated.

    The athleticism of today’s great players combined with a strong mental attitude makes some of them extremely formidable.

    However, no matter how agile a player is, they must master the basics first (like you have laid out here) in order to be a great player.

    However, I don’t know if this is just me but I don’t think players train enough. Could you imagine how much more better some of these players could be if they did one extra hour per day going over the drills you have mentioned?


    1. I agree with you on that, for most footballers it is there job, therefore it would be justified to spend that bit more time training because as you said, it would make a huge difference! Thanks for the comment 🙂

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