This article is guest blogged by Jonas Forsberg of YouthSoccerSpeed.com
Quite often I get emails from readers regarding the whole concept on when to perform speed training, and how often it should be implemented in the season schedule.
A rather common phrase I get from readers is something like "we are planning on starting with the speed training later this Spring".
To me, this is not a good way of doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to criticize you for the way you currently are doing things. I admire that you guys have a plan to follow, but I simply don’t agree with the plan.
And I am very well aware that other factors are involved, such as the number of days you train, time on the field, etc, but in a lot of cases I believe that with a slightly better plan, you can solve this problem.
The philosophy (at least in Sweden), has been that you should build an aerobic base at the beginning of pre-season, and when the real season approaches, you start going into more of high-intensity runs with shorter rest period. Here’s where a lot of coaches believe that soccer speed training should be added as well.
Today, we know there are better ways of doing it.
Since soccer speed is a lot about reaction, it means that the central nervous system is highly involved when it comes to improving soccer speed (or in any other sport for that matter).
In order to train this together with stimulating your fast twitch muscle fibers, you simply can’t perform speed training only during 1/4 of the year.
The solution: Soccer Speed Training should be performed year round!
However, that doesn’t mean you should perform 12 sets of acceleration drills – 3 times/week – year round. Not at all!
You could increase the volume during some parts of the year, and decrease the volume during other parts of the year, but no matter what, speed training should be included almost during the whole year.
During season, speed training should be performed 2-3 times/week, and it doesn’t have to take more than 5-10 minutes to perform. And after that, you could take a break after the season, and then start again after a few weeks.
A pretty good rule of thumb to follow is to perform speed training regularly for 3-5 weeks, and after that you take 1 week off from just the speed training portion (you train soccer just like you normally do during this week). After 1 week off from the speed training, you start again for another 3-5 weeks, take 1 week off, and continue like that.
By following that setup you make sure to train your body for speed and reaction, without overtraining or wearing yourself out.
With younger players, speed training can, according to my philosophy, include coordination drills performed in the agility ladder, line drills, short acceleration contests, etc.
Speed and movement training should just like any other quality in soccer (technical skills, passing, receiving, shooting, etc.) be trained regularly. Training for speed and reaction only during March or April is not going to improve your players speed very much.
Speed during soccer today is a critical factor for how long a player will go in his career.
But remember, soccer speed is not about straight ahead speed for 60 meters. Soccer speed is about reaction, 10-20 meters accelerations, deceleration, change of direction, etc. Therefore you need to expose your players to that type of training if you want them to improve their speed and performance on the soccer field.
If you enjoyed this article and want more tips on how to improve your players soccer specific speed without making it too complicated, then sign up for Jonas Forsberg’s mini-course Truth About Soccer Speed over at YouthSoccerSpeed.com