In order to change direction quickly and explosively, a soccer player must learn how to stop properly, effectively and safely. The most dangerous soccer player on the field isn't always the fastest one, but the one one that can stop the fastest and then explode in a new direction.
There are several things to consider and do in order to achieve this success. In order for a soccer player to stop quickly, as a player approaches the spot where they need/want to stop, they will want to take smaller steps and start to drop their hips. By doing this, they are effectively lowering their center of gravity. By lowering their center of gravity, this will allow them to (stop, pause or slow down) explode in a new direction quickly.
To effectively stop however, a soccer player should step into that stopped position rather than jumping into it with both feet. When they come to a stop, their feet should be pointed forward and they should be in an athletic stance. (Athletic stance is their feet are about shoulder width apart). They will want their heels slightly off the ground (allow a piece of paper to go between their heel and the ground) and they are balanced on the front part of the feet ready to explode in a new direction. One important consideration here is to not allow the knee to fly past or be in front of their toes. This puts too much stress on the knee. Soccer players have a higher incidence of knee injury than other sports because of the constant cutting and changing direction. Learning the proper mechanics of direction change will help to mitigate the chance of a soccer player suffering a serious knee injury.
The best way for a soccer player to check to make sure they are in a proper position of deceleration or athletic stance is to once they stop properly, they will stand up nice and tall, go up on their toes and pivot to one side. Then have them drop to their knees. Their one knee should be right in the middle of their other foot. If it is off, they should fix it so that it is correct and then keep their toes where they are, they stand back up, turn to face forward again and then bend their knees and drop their hips....putting them right back into their proper deceleration position.
So to summarize, as a soccer player approaches where they want to stop, take smaller steps, start to bend their knees and drop their hips and stop by stepping into an athletic stance (deceleration position)with them balanced on the front part of their feet.
If a soccer player works on this efficient and safe stopping technique and then works on their next explosive first step in a new direction, they too will become a dangerous player on the soccer field.
Soccer coaches should look to incorporate this change of direction technique into as many of their functional training sessions as possible. Getting soccer players to change direction quickly and powerfully will give them more time and space with the ball allowing them to become even more creative and dangerous on the soccer field!
Christopher, G. (2009, August 5). Explosive Change of Direction For Soccer Players. Retrieved June 20, 2016, from http://ezinearticles.com/?Explosive-Change-of-Direction-For-Soccer-Players&id=2701247