Speed is one of the essential qualities that separates an average player from an outstanding player. Training sessions involving speed training plays an important role in player development. The concept of speed in soccer can be a little confusing and misunderstanding. It goes beyond running fast. Speed in soccer encompasses several attributes, some of which are outlined below;
- Great acceleration over 10 – 15 yards
- Speed endurance
- High speed while in possession of the ball.
- Great speed in executing skills.
- The ability to change directions quickly.
- Quick feet
- Finally and most importantly is the speed of thought.
From these attributes, we can observe that speed in soccer is a lot different from speed in athletics.
Genetics is a major contributing factor that determines your ability to run fast, although with the right drills you can enhance your natural talents and gifts.
Outlined below, are a few Training drills that can help you improve your speed and acceleration.
Strength and Power Training
Power is a combination of both strength and speed of contraction. If you increase either one of the two you increase your power. In an ideal situation we would want to increase both. Weight lifting exercises help in increasing strength while plyometric training converts the strength to speed and power.
To enhance your take off speed, running and acceleration training should be a part of your speed training drills. These drill aren’t meant to be a lot, a short session a week is okay during the season. In these drills, concentration should be on form and the speed of leg movement over the first 10-15 yards.
Warm up: Be sure to warm up for these drills. It becomes more and more critical to warm up your muscles the faster you run. Walk and jog for 5 to 10 minutes and incorporate dynamic exercises like high knees, torso kicks, and skipping in preparation for your body to sprint.
Focus on Position and Core: Keep your torso upright, shoulders relaxed and away from your ears, and engage your core and unleash your sprinting pose.
Run with a Circular Motion: Raise your thighs until they are parallel to the ground. Try to imagine yourself on a bike and move your feet in a circular motion, driving your knees up and down rather than a reaching out in front of you.
Land Effectively: Be sure to land on the balls and the front of your feet and then concentrate on propelling yourself through your toes while keeping your feet pointing upward towards your shins and remaining flexed.
Short Strides: Don’t waste energy with elongated strides. Focus on rhythm and pace instead of distance.
Breathing: To stay away from wasting energy, calm down and line up your breath to the pace of your feet.
Speed Endurance Training
During a 90 minutes game of soccer you are required to make repeated sprints usually in quick successions. In order for you to be able to maintain such a high percentage of your speed and power, you body most be able to remove lactic acid regularly.
These speed endurance drills here from Sport Fitness Advisor are designed to make your body generate high amounts of lactic acid quickly. This way your body adapts by increasing its removal rate thereby enhancing your recovery process.
It’s usually a difficult task trying to get players to stretch. The goal of these stretching drills is to increase their range of motion. One of the benefits of this increase is to enhance power and speed of motion. Also, it helps to lengthen leg stride which is important for quick and agile changes in direction.
- Lunge with a Twist – Forward lunge combined with a horizontal twist.
- Knees to Chest
- High Kicks
- Crescent Lunge
- Jump Squats
- Jump Lunges
Opposing muscles contract and relax at almost the same speed. Flexibility training releases the tightness and increases the speed of relaxation.
In addition, to improving speed, you can also improve your quickness and agility. Soccer speed training should cater for both as well.
It is possible to combine both agility drills and Sprint training drill into a single session.
In summary, a proper combination of the right fitness program, an experienced coach, coupled with a lot of dedication, and you can play with more energy, more confidence and a lot of consistency.
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