"Coordination, Agility and Speed Training for Soccer" by Peter Schreiner defines coordination as "the interaction of the central nervous system and the skeletal muscles in a purposeful sequence of movements." Therefore, to improve coordination you must perform exercises that engage both your body and your mind. Although these movements may seem difficult at first, performing them repetitively will build muscle memory and bring you to a greater awareness of the lower body.
Jumping jacks are a well-known cardiovascular exercise that will fit a beginner with poor coordination. Break it down into steps to learn the proper form: first, stand with your feet together and jump them out at the same time to hips' width distance. To complete the movement, jump back in. Coordinate this with your arms by raising them overhead at the same time until they touch, and bringing them back down to your sides. Repeat this movement 20 to 30 times at a steady pace. The rhythm of the jumping jack will help just as much as the movement with coordination.
Jumping rope may look easy, but don't be fooled. Although the movement happens in the legs and feet, it takes coordination to loop the rope around your feet as you jump. Start at a slow pace with low, even jumps. You will feel this exercise in your calves and may be able to sustain the movement for about two or three minutes to start. You may also find it difficult to keep the rope from hitting your feet as you jump. As you become more aware and coordinated in your legs and feet, you will be able to gauge how hard, fast and high to loop the rope more easily.
A squat thrust begins at a standing position. Next, bend down until your hands touch the ground. Kick your feet out so that you land in a push-up position. From there, simply jump your feet back to your hands and stand up. This movement is also frequently called a "burpie" and is a popular gym class and fitness exercise. Squat thrusts are meant to be performed quickly, the aspect of this movement that helps with coordination the most. By jumping in and out, you are forced to coordinate your lower body with your upper body while benefiting from intense cardiovascular exercise.
To perform a mountain climber, come down to a push-up position. Bend at the hips to create a peak. Keeping your hands on the ground, perform a running motion with your feet. Essentially, this movement is supposed to make you look like you are climbing a mountain with your lower body while your upper body remains still. Mountain climbers will help you become familiar with your hips, thighs, calves and feet. You will feel the cardiovascular stress of this exercise quickly, so take it easy on the first few sets.
Box jumps force you to gauge how high you must jump to land on top of a platform. Start with something relatively low, as missing a higher platform will cause you to fall. Using your arms for momentum, jump on top of the platform with both feet at the same time. As you become tired, you may miss the platform and stumble. However, the more tired you are, the more you must pay attention to your lower body to access the muscles that will help you jump. When you become more coordinated and stronger, raise the height of the platform.
The carioca is a lower body weave used in sports practices. You will need a long, open space to perform the movement. Stand with the side of your dominant hand facing the open space. Take one step out with your dominant foot, loop the left foot behind it, and continue to perform this movement in a figure-eight pattern as you move laterally. Start slow, as this movement may cause you to trip over yourself and fall. When you become more coordinated, perform the movement faster and try to lead with the foot of your weaker side. The goal is to become equally coordinated with both feet.
- "Coordination, Agility and Speed Training for Soccer"; Peter Schreiner; 2000
- Photo Credit legs image by Astroid from Fotolia.com
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