Growing up, my pace was always one of my strengths when it came to football. My ability to knock the ball past the defender and beat them to it probably compensated a lot for any lack of technical ability. However, as my involvement in 11-a-side tailed off in favour of the futsal version of the game, this approach became less effective for me.
What is clear is that all-out running speed is not as important as your ability to get of the mark more quickly than your opponent in the short sided form of the game.
The acceleration phase of your running takes place over the first 30 metres or so. It is only after about 3-4 seconds that you hit your top speed. However, on a futsal football pitch, you are rarely going to sprint over 30 metres at a time – most play will happen in short bursts of 10 metres or less. With less space on a futsal pitch, your acceleration and power makes all of the difference when it comes to getting away form defenders or making up ground on a tricky attacker.
In light of this, how can you improve your acceleration (the rate at which your speed increases) and become a ‘quicker’ futsal player?
How to Get Your Acceleration Mechanics Right
If you have ready any of my previous articles, you will have heard me go on about the importance of perfecting technique before practicing through repetition. This seems logical if you’re trying to improve your shooting – get your technique right early and your practice will be more effective.
This also applies to more ‘basic’ skills, such as running. Getting your running technique right is vital before you work through speed drills and weight-lifting regimes.
Ultimately, the key to improving acceleration is applying the maximum amount of force to the ground and balancing your downward force with your forward momentum. To be as efficient as possible at this, ensure that you are doing the following –
- Run with a forward lean for a perfect balance between pushing against the ground and moving forwards.
- Strike the ground with the fore-foot (the ball of the foot and toes). Hitting the ground with your heel first will result in a braking action and a high impact risk.
- Make sure you make contact with the ground about level with or slightly behind your hips
- For maximum power, your driving leg should be triple extended as it pushes you away from the ground. Your ankle, knee and hip should be fully extended and form a straight line from your toes up through your upper body.
- Keep your heel recovery low. Your heel should not come high off the ground as your legs swing behind you.
- As you begin to sprint, drive your leading arm up high, with your hand about level with your forehead.
- Keep your head and neck relaxed and in a straight line with the rest of your body to maintain a balanced centre of gravity.
Get your technique right and you’re already a step ahead of your opposition.
The Futsal Football Coach ‘Strength and Power Workout’
Now that you have maximised the amount of force you apply to the ground through efficient mechanics, it is time to increase that maximum force through weight training.
Strength training will increase your speed and acceleration as it will increase your proportion of type IIA muscle fibres – the fast-twitch fibres used for explosive movement. This type of muscle fatigues slowly and produces the most speed and power in the shortest possible time (hence the name ‘fast-twitch’). Switching the composition of your muscles with an emphasis on these fibres will increase your muscle power over short distances, allowing you to drive harder during that initial acceleration phase.
The ‘Futsal Football Coach Strength, Speed and Agility Workout‘ has been specifically designed to work your upper and lower body for football. This 4-6 week plan utilises body weight, dumbbell and kettlebell movements and will not only develop your speed and power, but also your stamina and injury resilience.
This workout is available absolutely free to all readers of the Futsal Player blog – just enter your first name and email address below and I will send a .pdf version of the workout guide direct to you via email.
Incorporating Speed Drills
After working on improving your running technique and developing your fast-twitch muscles, you should now start to see some noticeable improvements in your speed. The final step to becoming the fastest player on the pitch is the implementation of speed drills into your training.
The route to developing any skill is deliberate practice. This is the same for running. Repeating the technique in the form of drills will establish the muscle memory and build muscle power and stamina further.
The following drills can be implemented as part of your training regime – just make sure you warm-up appropriately first. They are best performed at the start of a training session.
- Place 4 markers (cones) in a line, set at a distance of 5 metres apart. Start at the first marker and run to the second (5m) and back. Without stopping, run to the third (10m) and back. Again without stopping, run to the fourth (15m) and back. This is one repetition. Try to complete this repetition within 15 seconds. Take a 15 second rest and then repeat. Do 3 repetitions in total.
- You’ll need to find a hill with a good rise (about 15 degrees). From the bottom, sprint as hard as you can up the hill for 20 metres. Slowly walk back down, taking 2 minutes to rest. Repeat for a total of 8 runs. This drill is especially good as it promotes an optimum stride frequency and encourages a forward lean.
You can vary both of these drills up by changing your starting position. For example, change from a standing start to a falling start – stand tall and straight, fall forward and explode out at the last minute. Alternatively, try a push-up position or even start from lying down.
To be an effective futsal football player, you do not need to be particularly ‘pacey’. However, by increasing your strength and power, through developing the right technique, building up your fast-twitch muscles and by implementing speed drills into your training, this will have a drastic effect on your speed out of the traps.
As a result, you will be able to leave defenders in your dust and be quicker in the tackle.
Let me know how this works for you.
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