Four steps to five-a-side fitness

Boss that small-sided pitch with our simple exercises, designed to improve movement, power and acceleration – all courtesy of Michael Rawson, Bolton’s strength and conditioning coach

1 Dynamic side lunge

How to do it Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your left leg and take a big step to your left, lowering your body by pushing your hips back and bending your left knee. Keep your toes pointing forward and chest up. Hold, then quickly push back up to the starting position. Progress this by touching your hands down either side of your lunging foot.
How it helps This movement develops explosive strength in your glutes, which powers your changes in direction. This is crucial for darting away from defenders.
Reps 4-6 (each leg)
Sets 3

2 Ski hops

How to do it Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bring your right leg off the ground and leap forward as far as possible, landing on your left leg. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then jump again until you have completed the set. Repeat using your right leg. To progress this exercise perform the single leg hops wearing a weighted vest.
How it helps Ski hops boost the power in your legs, so that you can run with greater force. They also help with the stability of the knee, guarding it against injury.
Reps 6 (per leg)
Sets 4

More after the break

3 Accelerate to decelerate

How to do it Place two cones 20 metres apart, then position two cones 10 metres either side of one of these cones, creating a T-shape. Sprint between the cones that are 20 metres apart before making a sharp turn to your left or right to sprint around one of the outside cones.
How it helps This improves acceleration, deceleration and change of direction – all key for the small-sided game. You don’t hit the top speeds you do in an 11-a-side game, but you need to be sharper and more agile.
Reps 8-10
Sets Work for 5 seconds, rest for 40

4 Crossover hops

How to do it Tape two parallel lines onto the gym floor, 20 centimetres apart. Executing four single leg hops, leap up the lane, aiming for maximum distance each time. The hops must cross over the lane, with your foot always landing on the outside of the lane. Perform with a weighted vest to progress the exercise.
How it helps To succeed in five-a-side you need to be able to shift your body weight with speed and control. Single leg strength is essential. This will get you bounding off both legs in multi-directions.
Reps 4 hops (per leg)
Sets 4

For more tips on 5-a-side:
Improve your five-a-side with futsal
Wenger: How to improve your 5-a-side
Wenger: 5 skills for 5-a-side
Tosh Farrell: 2-step guide to 5-a-side corner

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