This article is guest blogged by Jonas Forsberg of YouthSoccerSpeed.com
Do you as a coach feel the importance of acceleration in the game of soccer, but due to information-overload out there, you don’t know who to listen to or what methods to follow?
I don’t blame you. According to research, most of the youth soccer coaches out there today are voluntarily coaching a team, meaning in a lot of cases you are probably a parent to one of the kids in the team. So with this being said, you have a regular job on the side, and you simply don’t have time to spend hours reading and researching in order to find new methods.
All you need to do is what athletes back in the days focused primarily (and almost exclusively) on, and it is… SPRINTING.
You don’t need to use resistance bands, parachutes or any other fancy stuff, you simply just need to line the athletes up next to each other, and then upon your command, sprint to point B.
When talking about speed and how to improve it, there are certain laws of physics that comes to mind. The probably most important one is to teach the players how to apply more force to the ground. This may sound extremely difficult, and it can be, but just follow the drills here below and I promise you that you’ll get the players to apply more force to the ground in their start, which will result in improved acceleration, and most important of all, these drills are fun.
As a matter of fact, you may even have done these before without even thinking about the benefits.
When discussing acceleration for soccer players, I tend to set up a distance of 15-30 meters. A few years back, a long term study performed on English Premier League players showed that the most covered distance in a soccer game is between 10-30 meters, and therefore, your ability to pick it up as fast as possible, decelerate and change a direction, and then accelerate again is probably the most important aspects of soccer speed (in this lesson, where are only going to focus on acceleration, and will leave deceleration and change of direction for another day).
To sum it up, you shouldn’t have the players sprint for 50-60 meters, at least not now. Anywhere between 10-30 meters is great (go with 10-15 meters in the beginning).
When talking acceleration vs. top speed, it’s important to know that acceleration is about creating an angle, that forward lean. So below you’ll find some different variations of starts to use with your players, and these starts will create that forward lean with your players.
Here are the different starting positions:
One foot in front, and the other back. The position they are in when ready to run. Standing Track & Field start basically.
Have the players stand tall and keep a straight line through their body. Then tell them to keep that line and fall forward, and just as they feel it’s getting scary and they feel like falling to the ground, that’s when they’ll explode and run out for 10-30 meters.
Have the players lay in a starting pushup stance (at the top of the motion, straight arms and a straight body). Upon your signal, they’ll explode out of there as quickly as possible. Important here is that they shouldn’t stand straight up and then run. From the starting position, they should try come forward as quick as possible, and when doing that, they’ll create that forward lean that’s so important for teaching a player to apply more force and improving their acceleration.
As a last note, speed training is always done right after a proper warm-up consisting of mobility and flexibility, some activation exercises together with some running and skipping drills.
With that being said, speed training is always performed at the beginning of a practice, and make sure that your players have recovered between the starts. Soccer speed training is done in a resting state. If you perform a lot of reps with low rest in between, it’s conditioning and will not give maximum speed results, it’s that simple.
A good rule of thumb is for every 10 meters the players run, they’ll rest 45-60 seconds before repeating. So if they run 30 meters, they should rest 135-180 seconds before next rep. Don’t ignore this, it’s a very important rule to follow!
Use these tips and you’ll see great improvements with your players soccer speed!
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 speed program over at The Soccer Speed Blog.