This article is guest blogged by Jonas Forsberg of YouthSoccerSpeed.com
The biggest problem today when it comes to soccer speed is probably the lack of understanding on how to improve it, and actually, the fact that you can improve it. The biggest myth when it comes to speed training in general today is the fact that people still believe, in the year of 2010, that speed is something you can’t improve – you either have it or you don’t.
The fact that it does have to do with genetics is true, and if you don’t have good genetics then you probably will never win the gold medal on 100 meters, but that ain’t what soccer is all about.
So what is soccer speed all about, and why does it matter?
First and foremost, soccer speed is not purely about linear acceleration, it’s about so much more than that. Research has shown that 10-30 meters is the most commonly covered distance in soccer before a player have to change a direction. There’s a change in movement every 2-5 seconds.
With that being said, linear acceleration does matter, but it is probably a player’s first 10-15 meters that are most important, and after that their ability to decelerate/change a direction and then re-accelerate is what truly matters.
A players first 10-15 meters can be improved A LOT, as well as their ability to decelerate and change a direction. Most of these qualities involve training, and not just genetics.
The famous sprint coach Charlie Francis says in his fantastic book "The Charlie Francis Training System":
"It can be argued that most sprinters are "un-made" rather than "made", due to inappropriate training during their initial development.
A common example of the result of inappropriate training is the conversion of the transitional muscle fibre of a young athlete to red endurance fibre rather than white fast-twitch fibre due to inappropriate volumes of endurance training.
As a result of such inadequate training knowledge ultimate performance capabilities of the athlete are limited by the early training he or she undergoes. That’s very interesting. Basically, what he’s saying is that improper training probably is the biggest reason an athlete doesn’t get faster. Inappropriate training during their initial development is what matters.
So for once and for all, stop blaming genetics, especially if you play soccer and hope to improve soccer speed. Some people argue that the reason soccer is being played at a higher tempo today then it was 15 years ago is due to the players way of handling the ball and playing more one-touch soccer.
That is certainly true, but far from the whole story. What you do with the soccer ball matters, but what about the rest of the game where you don’t have the ball in your possession.
Do you have to get to the ball before you opponent? I definitely think that’s an important quality and advantage you as a soccer player need to possess.
Soccer speed does matter because at the end of the day, if you can’t out-run your opponent, you won’t get to the ball before him. And in order to do that, you don’t have to be faster than him on 60 meters, but rather on the first 10-15 meters, or you might be better than him at decelerating and then picking up the pace again.
So don’t just work on running 50 meter sprints, look at what the science is telling you about the game of soccer and work on those qualities. It will make a difference at the end of the day!
About The Author
Jonas Forsberg is a Swedish Soccer Speed Coach who helps soccer players improve their soccer specific speed. Visit YouthSoccerSpeed.com and get the mini-course Truth About Soccer Speed!