Looking to lift your game this season?
In this guide, we’ll show you the best soccer training equipment – for youth and adult players.
Use this gear to practice by yourself, or train with a group of other players.
In a rush? Check out this handy comparison table:
Handheld tethered ball
Pop up goal
What should I buy?
While it might be tempting to head out to the pitch and just shoot at goal, if this is the only practice you’re getting in, you’re missing out on developing a number of key skills.
Namely, your ball control, first touch, and speed.
Ideally, you want to be able to practice these fundamentals by yourself, without having to rely on others to help you train. However, don’t skip team drills completely – they’re very useful for developing other skills like vision and communication.
When planning your training sessions, and the equipment you’ll need, here’s what you need to consider.
Which skills do I want to focus on?
For training to be effective, it must be targeted.
The first thing to think about is the area (or areas) of your game you’d like to improve.
We’ve outlined a number of different drills you can use to improve specific areas of your game.
Speed & Endurance
Being able to outrun your opponents and be first to the ball for a full 90 minutes is a massive advantage to have, no matter what position you play.
While some people will be naturally quicker than others, you can improve speed through a combination of short and long-distance running.
Longer runs will help build up endurance, helping you maintain your fitness for the entire game.
On the other hand, training exercises that include short sprints and quick changes in direction can build up short-distance burst speed and make you quicker on your feet.
Try: lots of short, sharp sprints with speed hurdles.
Having more strength will give you an advantage in physical challenges against opponents, which can help you win the ball more often.
Increasing leg strength helps with long crosses and passes, allowing you to kick the ball further.
Stronger players can also jump higher, helping you win headers (and even make the odd bicycle kick, if your first name’s Cristiano).
But you don’t necessarily need to hit the gym to improve your strength!
Try: plyometric exercises, resistance bands, speed hurdles, and sprint chutes.
Players who are quick on their feet are more likely to win – and keep – the ball in congested areas.
Agility requires the development of fast-twitch muscles. You want to improve your reaction times, and develop the ability to be light on your feet.
To increase agility, you’ll want to incorporate equipment like speed hurdles, agility ladders and cones. These tools will help improve your balance, reflexes, and running rhythm.
Try: agility ladder drills, like the Icky Shuffle.
Having a good touch is another skill you can’t really afford to neglect. Even goalkeepers these days are expected to be able to play the ball out from the back.
You also need to develop the ability to keep your head up, so you can spot defenders and identify good passing opportunities when dribbling. This takes time, and is best done using small-sided games.
The best way to develop a good feel for the ball is to practice controlling it – whether it be dribbling, 1v1 drills, or passing back and forward rapidly over short distances (against a wall for example).
You want to use training exercises that help you get as many touches on the ball as possible each session.
Whether you’re shooting at goal, playing a short pass, or spraying a long ball, accuracy is critical.
Passing and shooting drills, or games such as keep-away, are the best way to increase accuracy.
Smaller popup goals or training targets can help you hone your accuracy in small spaces, making successful shots at a full-size goal a much easier task.
Try: using targets (or even just cones) to mark out the zones you need to hit when shooting.
When was the last time you bought a fancy new gadget – whether soccer-related or not – that never got much use?
It’s crucial to have a plan of action, detailing how you’re going to use your new training equipment.
Here’s what to look out for, and how to get value for money when shopping.
Multi-purpose gear can be used for a variety of different training activities.
For example, cones can be used for dribbling drills, passing exercises, speed workouts and scrimmages. Agility ladders help you improve both speed and agility in the same exercise.
Popup goals are perfect for shooting practice, but can also be incorporated into small-sided games.
If you’re after value for money, try to think up at least 3 distinct uses for a piece of gear before you buy it. Ideally, these should be completely different drills you can use the equipment for.
Training programs that work well for teenagers/adults might not be suitable for younger kids.
Youth players should focus on getting used to the feel of the ball, and try to develop the motor skills required to be successful at soccer.
Older players who have mastered the fundamental skills should focus on fine-tuning these proficiencies, while also building strength, speed and endurance, and working on their game intelligence.
As such, things like speed hurdles and resistance training are better options for more advanced players. On the other hand, younger athletes – or coaches of youth teams – will want to invest in training equipment that enables them to focus on ball control, passing and trapping.
The bottom line is this: training equipment has to be tough.
Look for cones or ladders that are made of softer, less rigid plastic so that they won’t break when stepped on. Popup goals and rebounders should have sturdy frames, and their netting should be strong enough to prevent it tearing.
Paying a little more for higher-quality equipment will save you money in the long-run. The last thing you want is to find some gear you really like to use, only to have to replace it after just a few months because you use it so often.
Let’s face it – the yard isn’t going to have quite as much space as your local soccer pitch.
If you’re in a smaller area, consider going for something designed to return the ball to you, like the QuickPlay Replay. This type of equipment helps to prevent balls sailing over your fence, or smashing windows. It also helps to cut down on ball-retrieval time, allowing you to get in more practice more quickly.
It’s probably best to avoid anything to do with speed/agility though (like hurdles). This equipment will tear your grass to shreds in no time at all, if you use it repeatedly on the same patch of turf.
If you have more space, rebounders will allow you to practice many of the same skills, without having to keep the ball tethered. They take up more room, but give you much more flexibility in the types of drills you can do.
For example, some rebounders pop the ball high enough for you to work on your headers, while also having different settings for short passing and shooting.
Best Soccer Training Equipment
Practice makes perfect! But what makes your practice perfect?
Having the right equipment, of course!
With the right gear, you’ll be well on your way to getting the most out of your training sessions. Some of this equipment will also allow you to keep practicing alone, which is crucial for your development as a player.
1. QuickPlay Replay Soccer Training Ball
Need to be able to train by yourself? Fed up of fetching balls that go into your neighbor’s yard?
With this little gadget, you’ll never have to chase another loose ball ever again.
The QuickPlay keeps the included ball tethered to a base, meaning each kick comes right back to you. It has a 36ft elasticated cord, which can stretch to an incredible 60′ long.
What’s more, the cord length can be adjusted – from just 1 foot all the way up to the full 36. As a result, this is a really versatile piece of equipment. You could use it to practice your first touch with balls fired in from close range, or lengthen the cord to work on your long passing.
Additionally, there’s an anti-snap feature, which prevents the cord from twisting during play. Due to this feature, you don’t have to worry about the ball moving erratically.
It’s a good idea to occasionally check the cord for fraying or looseness so it doesn’t snap when kicked, but the QuickPlay is durable enough for both youth and adults.
Ultimately, what this tool does is allow you to do more practice each session. Think of the amount of time you normally have to spend fetching balls – and imagine being able to completely eliminate it.
2. PodiuMax Handle Soccer Trainer
This is essentially a cheaper, more basic version of the Quickplay, except you hold it in your hand. It doesn’t come with a base – instead there’s a little handle – so the ball always comes back to you.
What this means is, this device is better-suited to helping you hone your ball control, as opposed to shooting or long passing. You can perfect your juggling technique and kickups while maintaining control of the ball in the air, making it a good training tool for practicing in small spaces.
The PodiuMax trainer has a special lock-down design that prevents the ball from slipping out of the net, which is well thought-through. Note that the ball isn’t included with this option – you simply place your own one into the net.
Also, the elastic cord is adjustable – it can be lengthened or shortened from 31-47 inches, so it works for athletes of any height. Plus, this cord has a nice level of elasticity to it.
Considering what it costs, the durability is surprisingly good. The nylon netting as well as the elastic cord are very tough – for most players, this equipment will last for years to come.
3. QuickPlay PRO Adjustable Speed Hurdles
Speed hurdles are staples of the serious training session. You’ll see high-level youth, college, and pro teams use them for “plyometric” exercises to improve speed, strength, and power.
The end result? You’re first to the ball, more of the time.
These QuickPlay hurdles are great because they’re fully adjustable. Meaning, with the snap-in horizontal bars, you can set them to be any height you like – either 6, 9, or 12 inches tall.
With these hurdles, you can change the intensity of your workout with ease, which justifies the extra cost a little bit. As a result, you won’t have to replace them if you’re looking to challenge yourself down the line.
Plus, since they’re so durable (and backed by a 2-year warranty) you won’t have to worry about them breaking as you use them.
These hurdles are also incredibly lightweight, making them super-portable. However, this does pose a bit of an issue – they can blow over in the wind. You may need to dig them into the ground a little bit to keep them stable.
4. PUGG 4-Foot Popup Soccer Goal
While training your first touch, speed, and ball control is crucial, nothing beats the intensity of a real practice match. That’s where pop-up goals come in.
PUGG debuted the first pop-up goal in 1994, and still remains one of the most popular brands to this day.
The modern goal’s spring steel frame provides excellent strength and durability – it can withstand fierce strikes from extremely close range. Plus, the net’s hex-braid pattern prevents it from tearing, and heavyweight stitching attaches the net securely to the nylon sleeve.
PUGG is so confident in the goal’s durability that they offer a two-year guarantee on materials and workmanship.
The two goals fold into flat ovals 1 foot in diameter, which weigh a combined 7 pounds in their convenient carrying case – meaning you can take them wherever you go. They also come with anchoring pegs for stability, though the goal will still stand up without them.
You’ll pay a little more for the PUGG popup goals than other brands, but we think it’s worth paying more for the quality on offer.
5. SCOREMORE Soccer Training Targets
If you can hit a 16-inch circle, you can probably hit a full-size soccer goal. That’s the theory behind this piece of equipment.
These 16 by 20” targets attach to the goal posts or crossbar, helping to train shot placement. You get two in every pack, and they’re pretty reasonably priced.
Remember, it’s not enough to simply hit the target. You’ve got the be able to find the corner in order to score.
While most of these products are designed for a specific goal size, this target features a cinching Velcro closure called “Omni-Tape” that lets you secure it to any size goal post.
Essentially, you can scale the difficulty of the exercises based on the skill of the player. The target will take up more space in smaller goals, making it easier to hit. However, as you (or your kids) advance to larger goal sizes, the target will take up a smaller portion of the actual area.
With the right drills, these targets help hone spatial awareness, getting you used to sniping the corners in real matches, instead of shooting at the goalkeeper.
6. SKLZ Quickstar Soccer Trainer
Want to improve your control, but aren’t a fan of using a tethered ball?
This rebounder is great for solo training. Its two-net system allows you to practice headers, volleys, and your first touch – all with the one device.
The 4-foot full rebounder pops the ball high in the air, while the low-down 20″ net is ideal for working on receiving ground balls, 1-2s, and trapping.
While it can take a few minutes to put together, the Quickstar is lightweight and portable, while still durable enough to handle powerful shooting.
Designed for use on grass, it comes with four stakes and tethers to secure it to the ground. It can also be used on cement or asphalt – provided it’s weighted down.
This is the end of our buyer’s guide!
Remember – different gear works best for different types of player.
Think about the skills you’re actually trying to refine, the drills you’re going to do, and how your training equipment will help you achieve the results you’re after.
Still not sure what to get? Drop us a comment and we’ll get right back to you.
About the author
Matt is the newest face on the Lift Your Game team.
He’s a former college football player, and also played soccer and tennis in high school.
In his spare time, you’ll either find him at the gym, or on the couch playing Madden!