A study on players’ activity during a game published in Journal of Sports Sciences revealed that an average professional player, during their 11 km run per match, runs only 191 m with a ball, or approximately 53 seconds of a match.
Analysing 30 French League 1 matches, it was calculated that on average, players ran at 10.3 km/h before they took possession, and speeding to almost 25 km/h during possession.
Speed in Soccer
As far as football is concerned, speed is defined by your ability to –
- accelerate quickly
- reach high maximum speed
- react quickly to situations
- make fast turns, twists and changes in direction
- produce quick dashes
- and most importantly, to lead the ball at speed.
Speed training can improve the first 5 elements, while the last one is strictly related to football training with a ball.
While it is true that there is more to genetics than training for sprinters, as soccer players are concerned, there is not a single aspect of speed that cannot be improved.
Speed training is best scheduled at the beginning of a session, when players are still fresh. Before a speed session starts, players need to be fully warmed up to avoid injuries – there is an increased risk of injury when performing explosive movements when players are tired.
Acceleration during the game is achieved by moving the feet quickly together while increasing the stride.
Fast feet drills, like using speed ladders, are great for improving players’ acceleration as well as feet coordination.
For even better results, you can increase strength by combining acceleration drills and low intensity plyometric exercises. Legion athletics can be used to enhance performance during resistance workout. Weight training, however, should apply only for players from the age of 16 and above.
Have you got your hands on the Futsal Football Coach Performance Workout Guide yet? CLICK HERE
Maximum Speed Training
While acceleration is all about footwork, maximum speed is related to players’ leg strength and speed.
Sprint drills are an excellent way for young players to increase their leg strength and leg speed. These include –
- bum kicks (with concentration on leg speed)
- high knees
- skips for height
- skips for length
- bounds for length
- hops for length.
These drills should be done in series of 2 or 4, with slow jogging and walking recovery periods.
This aspect focuses on players’ ability to sprint when they are given a signal. It can be practiced by giving either visual or sound commands. However, in game scenarios, players usually react to visual signals. To make the training sessions closer to the real thing, players should be given commands to react to while they are moving, as they would be during a match, rather than standing still.
There are a number of soccer drills that aim to improve reaction speed, e.g. relay races involving pairs of players.
While they are running, they should be given commands to jump, turn, and sprint backwards then forwards and so on.
This type of training includes drills where players are changing direction during the run. In a soccer game, there is virtually no limitation on directions they will have to use and change with the situation, so you should include commands for running side to side, back and forth, diagonally then back, etc.
A player’s ability to sustain maximum speed for as long as possible is called speed endurance. The most important characteristic of 400 meter runners is endurance, but for soccer players endurance needs to be combined with several short dashes of activity during the game.
Interval type training with high intensity and generous recovery periods are optimal for players who have already built some endurance during base training.
These tips can improve different aspects of speed during a soccer game. The requirements for a fast player are different from for a 100-meter sprinter. Being able to run distance and move fast with or without a ball are two completely different things.