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Football and coordination: Why is it important and how to improve it

15 May 2024

Coordination in Football: Why It Is Necessary and How to Train It

Controlling one's body and the ball is an essential part of football training and matches. A lack of coordination means weaker skills, poorer passing techniques, slower direction changes, and worse performance in body-to-body duels. Just like physical fitness, the synergy between the body and the nervous system needs to be trained to continuously improve players' performance on the field. In this article, we will discuss why coordination in football is important and also mention examples of exercises that help develop it.

What is Coordination?

Coordination is the ability to regulate motor activity so that body movement corresponds as closely as possible to the ideal structure of the motor activity. This ability is closely related to the central nervous system, which controls the areas important for specific movements.

  • Spatial orientation ability helps to determine and change the position and movement of the body in space and time relative to the field of action or a moving object. It involves the capacity to identify and adequately change the position and movement of the body in space.
  • Reaction ability is related to reaction speed. It involves initiating a purposeful movement in response to a given stimulus in the shortest possible time, with the reaction time being the indicator.
  • Balance ability refers to maintaining the body in certain positions. When moving the body, it is important to maintain or restore this state if necessary. We distinguish between static balance (in place), dynamic balance (during movement), and balancing with an object.
  • Differentiation ability means controlling movement in space and time considering the force requirements based on developed kinesthetic information coming from muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules.
  • Rhythmic ability is the ability to perceive and motorically express rhythm from the outside or inherent in the motor activity itself.
  • Integration ability is the mutual coordination of body movements (limbs, head, torso) into a spatially, temporally, and dynamically coordinated overall movement aimed at achieving the goal of the motor action.
  • Adaptation ability adapts and reorganizes motor activity according to changing conditions that a person perceives or anticipates during the movement. It involves reorganizing motor activity according to changing requirements.

 Why is Coordination Necessary in Football?

Coordination is one of the motor skills of a person. It is an innate ability that needs to be developed with every training session, ideally in conjunction with speed abilities. Coordination skills are primarily conditioned by the processes of controlling and regulating motor activities.

In developing coordination in football, players aim to achieve temporal alignment of movements in different body segments. This involves precise movement with and without the ball, which is not distorted by fatigue and the spatial-temporal pressure from the opponent.

The opposite of coordination is what is called clumsiness, which is especially encountered at lower performance levels, such as during running or performing game skills.

However, coordination skills are not the only abilities affecting performance in football. A player's performance is influenced alongside conditioning and hybrid speed abilities.

Advantages of Coordination for Football Players

  • Dominant ball control
  • Accurate passing with both feet
  • Faster decision-making
  • Stronger balance in body-to-body duels
  • Deceptive dribbling when bypassing opponents

Development of Coordination in Football

The ability of coordination needs to be shaped during the period between 6 and 12 years old, when skills are best developed. In the initial phase, the focus is on selecting exercises to develop what is known as general coordination. From puberty, between the ages of 11 and 12, predominantly specialized football coordination is refined.

In the development of coordination in football, the following aspects should be achieved:

  • Quick and accurate reactions to stimuli in game situations,
  • The ability to acquire new movements primarily related to football skills,
  • High levels of intramuscular coordination – the transfer of information from the brain regarding the force, speed, and amount of motor unit involvement in the muscle activated for movement. This involves movement economy, such as the correct timing of passes or runs,
  • Adaptation ability and the ability to change motor activity based on the demands of the game situation.

Exercises for Coordination and Balance

Football is a dynamic sport requiring agility, speed, and natural skill. To improve performance, it is necessary to constantly work, learn, and perfect the basics. To enhance coordination, it is beneficial to regularly incorporate functional exercises to engage the whole body and ball control games into training.

In a functional exercise, you train strength, endurance, and performance, control balance, work with various muscle groups simultaneously, and focus on smooth movements.

Here are a few training examples:

    1. Dribbling

Dribbling exercises build a solid foundation of balance and coordination:

Slalom cone drills

  • Set up a straight line of cones at regular distances from each other and dribble between them without touching the cones.
  • Set up two rows of cones approximately 3 meters apart. Dribble the ball from one end to the other as quickly as possible, staying between the rows of cones.
  • Circular dribbling around cones is a more challenging version of slalom. The exercise tests the player's ball control in tight spaces.
  • Randomly scatter cones into different groups and dribble between them. This exercise forces you to improvise.

      2.Dynamic stretching

Another important way to develop players' balance is stretching. While the traditional form of static stretching involves sitting in place, dynamic stretching requires moving the whole body during stretching. Additionally, it warms up the muscles for quick movements with a rapid pull and tests their coordination.

Let's take a look at a few coordination examples:

  • High knees,
  • Heel to buttock pulls,
  • Side lunges,
  • Lateral shuffles,
  • Walking lunges.

These exercises mimic common movements performed during a football match such as running, kicking, and sliding. Most of them also require standing on one leg while moving the rest of the body.

      3.Additional sports


To develop your versatility in football, it's important to occasionally engage in other activities. Practicing only one sport year-round limits players' athletic potential.

There are various supplementary sports. Let's introduce a few basic ones:

Tennis requires similar rapid movements and changes of direction as in football. Golf enhances vision and depth perception. It also improves patience and discipline. Lacrosse has a similar field structure and rules to football but is physically more demanding. It teaches players how to use their bodies to gain possession of the ball. Basketball is similar to football in its movement, positioning, and team play. Volleyball helps with timing jumps and tracking the ball for headers.

      4.Agility ladders


Agility ladders are versatile tools used by youth leagues as well as professional footballers. They offer a variety of footwork drills, which are crucial skills for footballers to develop.

Footwork training encompasses speed, agility, and balance, and agility ladders are among the few tools that develop all three factors.

     5.Square cone drills


Probably the best general method for developing speed, balance, and coordination is square cone drills, which lead to the development of speed, balance, and coordination.

Players use their vertical and lateral speed in this drill. They sprint, move laterally, backpedal, while trying to stay on a straight line, but they also have to manage sharp ninety-degree turns.

For this exercise and to improve endurance, short intervals are best.




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