3 Secrets to Game Changing Soccer Speed

by Billy Corbett- C.S.C.S

We’ve all experienced the awe of seeing that fast player blaze down the sideline then cut behind the defense to be wide open for a shot they blow past the out stretched hands of the goalie.

“Now that kid is fast” is what usually comes from the fans.

How about the scenario where we see a player that’s able to handle the ball so well she can run all out while maintaining possession and fend off any opponents.

Both of these examples require great amounts of speed but how do we develop it so we are efficient and productive. Is straight ahead sprinting the answer to making your athletes faster on the soccer field? If you were to watch many soccer practices you would think so. Considering soccer requires so many other physical abilities than just straight ahead acceleration shouldn’t we be taking a look at other options when we prepare our kids to play?

Speed is a skill and like all other skills you can and need to improve it in order to be successful in soccer or any other athletic endeavor. All other things being equal, the more efficiently you can run, the faster you can run.

In order to get better or have your young athlete get better than there are 3 areas you need to look at when considering developing speed skills. Keep in mind there are several more than just these 3 but when considering the limited time availability this is a great start.

 

They are as follows:

– Mechanics

– Strength

– Ankle flexibility/mobility

Mechanics of movement

Being able to run fast requires significant amounts of coordination, consistency and intentional correct repetitions. Notice I said correct repetitions? It isn’t enough to just run in order to become more proficient. What’s more important is that you need to run correctly that sets your athletes and teams apart from the rest. Most young athletes have never been taught how to accelerate, decelerate or change directions.

Most well intended coaches will take the former approach and just run rather than the latter approach because it’s typically what they’ve always done or they’re just not professionally trained to teach this better way.

Strength

Youth Strength training used to be a hot topic amongst many of those who didn’t understand the true nature of developing strength. The good news is the confusion now only comes from deciding which method is best and not whether strength training will benefit our youth or not.

So what is the goal in an athletic development program as it pertains to strength? The answer to that will depend on several factors all of which need to be taken into account. Considerations like physical age and psychological age, maturity level, skill level and the demands of the level of sport your young athlete is participating in need to be accounted for. These can easily be revealed in a quality needs and movement assessment before starting your sport or program.

Once your assessment is complete you can begin a proper strength program by developing the structural balance you need to lay the foundation for later development. For example, at our facility at RetroFIT Training Center we always tell the kids “you can’t shoot a cannon from a row-boat”. The cannon is perfectly capable of creating the firepower it needs to get the job done but if its foundation is the rowboat it won’t get very far.

Our goal is to improve the athlete’s stationary stability, which will improve the ability for the dynamic deceleration control you need to play your sport. The inability to stop or cut efficiently is a problem and most circumstances; today’s young athletes lack the skill and strength to decelerate safely.

It’s important to use a variety of movement patterns but not too much variety. The athlete needs to be able to have a chance to adapt to the demands we give it and sometimes this takes multiple workouts of the same routine. If you were going to use a specific set of exercises I would recommend starting with this. Make the strength drills compliment the running drills by doing exercises like lunges, squats, stationary pushes or pulls which will be efficient and specifically help the athlete prevent non contact injuries.

Ankle Flexibility and mobility

This is not about STRETCHING… This is about making sure that all the joints in the body can move freely through a full range of motion.  No Mobility = No Speed!

Ankle mobility is extremely important for the athlete’s ability to cut and move and to run fast.

Many young athletes I see have very stiff and inflexible ankles. Having stiff ankles will   not only will hinder your speed but could easily lead to an injury of the ankle, knee, hip and back.

Here are just two exercises that can be used in your warm up or post workout/game/practice and wont take too much time away from other areas. They are: ankle circles –lying on your back with knee bent and rotating foot clockwise then counter-clockwise for 20-30 reps each AND ankle pumper’s- same position as above but move your foot forward and backward as if pumping a gas pedal.

In Conclusion keep in mind some of these truths. Strength training DOES NOT make you slower.  In fact, young athletes who are not strong will always lack in optimal speed. All soccer players can gain from specific performance mechanically sound drills to improve foot speed and pace, despite their age and their current speed.

Without performing any mobility movement exercises for the hips, ankles and shoulders before you train, you WILL NOT get STRONGER, FASTER or more POWERFUL.

 

If you want to improve on any or all of the above areas or want to improve your overall athleticism then give us a call:

Billy Corbett -303 758 3138 www.AthleticRevolutionCentralDenver.com or billy@billycorbettsretrofit.com

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