One of the things I love about soccer is the speed, agility, and quickness involved in the sport. At Raw Fitness we break up the movement skills necessary into 2 main categories; tactical or reactionary. Tactical is much more offensive minded where you control the action and make self-predetermined movement. Reactionary is movement that is dictated by the flow of the game. Many times it is defensive although it could be offensive like reacting to the ball and sprinting to receive a pass.
Today I want to cover a technique that is essential for good defensive play. A defender who is marking the ball must be able to move laterally to intercept penetration, while maintaining the option to rapidly change direction while doing so. The key here is that their field of vision must remain facing the action the entire time. The primary weapon of choice should be the lateral shuffle as it keeps the defender in the most neutral position with the ability to quickly react to any change of direction. However, the better the attackers 1v1 skills, the harder it is to keep up simply by shuffling due to the difficulty of covering ground fast enough while doing so.
Enter the crossover step/crossover run. Depending on the angle of play, the defender will need to cover more ground than the shuffle allows, but they can’t completely commit to turning and sprinting with no way to recover. This move will keep the defenders shoulders and field of vision toward the action and help the athlete to move a lot quicker than a side shuffle can. Here are a couple of videos of some progressions we use to engrain this in our athletes.