There’s no question that good soccer players need to be quick. But quickness in soccer doesn’t necessarily require the same skills as sprinting a 50 yard dash. You’ll need to think about specific workouts to increase your speed.
Soccer speed sometimes equates to a sprint, like when a forward is trying to beat a defender to the ball. And sometimes it equates to a distance run, like a midfielder running from goal to goal throughout the game.
In soccer, speed can mean:
- Quickness from a cold start
- Good acceleration
- Speed while handling the ball
- Quick feet
- Speed Endurance
If you want to increase your soccer fitness level and speed, you’ll need to address all of these with some specific drills and training. While it helps to be naturally fast, if you’re not, you can make up for it with training designed specifically to increase soccer skills as they relate to speed.
Strength and Power
In soccer, you need to be able to explode and accelerate from every starting position. You may be at a dead halt. You may be running the other way. You may be on the ground. For this you need strength and power.
Use weights or resistance training to increase strength. For power, use plyometrics, or explosive exercises. This involves loading a muscle and then contracting it in rapid sequence. Think of pulling back a rubber band, then letting it go to snap. For example, jump running is where you would basically run in slow motion with exaggerated form, bending your landing knee, then pushing off and springing forth on the next step.
Read about How to Avoid Shin Splints in Soccer.
A soccer player may have to sprint several times in quick succession in a game situation. This is where a real emphasis on soccer fitness comes in. A player needs to be able to recover quickly and be ready to sprint again and again as the need arises. Interval training increases speed endurance by adapting the body to handle lactic acid more quickly, speeding up recovery time.
Practice speed play. The team lines up and jogs in single file around the perimeter of the field. The player at the end of the line sprints up to the front of the line. When he gets there, the new last player sprints up to the front, and so on.
Agility and Quick Feet
Soccer speed training wouldn’t be complete without focusing on the finer points of agility and fast footwork. Here, we’re talking about the ability to move quickly, to cut and turn, to change direction and still maintain possession of the ball.
A common way to increase soccer skills in this area is to practice shuttle runs. Place two markers 20 yards apart and 1 marker equidistant between the two. Start in the middle, and run to one marker and bend down to touch it. Immediately turn and run to the opposite marker and touch it. Then turn and run back to the center marker. That’s one rep. You can also use a speed ladder or practice alternative starts (start running from different positions) to improve agility and soccer speed.
Soccer requires its players to be fast. While there is a certain amount of fitness inherent in just playing the game, if you want to increase your quickness in soccer, you’ll need to place specific focus on speed as it relates to soccer. This means strength, power, speed endurance, and agility. If you plan to excel in soccer, training needs to incorporate all the facets of soccer speed.