Improve Your Speed on the Field
By Craig Friedman
Improve your technique, raise your game. Simple, right? The problem is, whether you're an adult with a hectic work schedule or a kid going from one tournament to the next, there never seems to be time for the drills that make you better — the drills that matter. Prioritize technique drills and use the four keys that follow to bolster your skills and boost your speed and agility.
1. Practice Deceleration to Move Forward
Throughout a soccer match, players are constantly changing direction. Whether they are reacting to an opponent with the ball or trying to make a quick move to blow by a defender, soccer athletes require both linear and multidirectional speed. This might surprise you, but in order to make any quick change of direction you first must slow down, or decelerate your body before you can speed up, or reaccelerate. The ability to quickly decelerate under control and then reaccelerate in a different direction can have a huge impact on your multidirectional speed.
2. Achieve New Speeds
Soccer players often rely on poor physics to move themselves around the field. We know from physics class that a force in one direction results in an equal and opposite reaction, so if you want to move forward, it only makes sense that you should apply the force into the ground behind you. Be careful not to over-stride when running, or reach too far out in front of you, because this will force you to pull yourself instead of push.
3. Push Yourself
It's a common misconception to think that reaching out in front of you when you run will make you faster. Truth is, by reaching out with each stride, your foot contacts the ground in front of your body, applying a force in the wrong direction with the effect of applying the brakes with each step you take. If you want to run at top speed, it's important to shift your mindset and think about applying power to the ground down and back behind you. In other words, think about pushing yourself forward with each and every stride.
4. React Faster
Soccer is a complex game that requires each player to continuously interact with their environment. Players are constantly reacting to external cues on the field. Whether you are reacting to the body language of an opposing attacker, the verbal commands of a teammate or the physical contact between you and your opponent when fighting for a ball, the speed at which you react to these cues greatly impacts your performance. It can mean the difference between defending a ball and allowing a clear shot on goal. Incorporate reaction drills into your training program to improve your ability to react fast.
About The Author
Craig Friedman is the vice president of the Performance Innovation team at EXOS. He designs and implements performance training systems for professional athletes in all sports, as well as elite youth and college athletes.