Soccer is an anaerobic sport, which involves bursts of activity (mostly running) and then periods of rest in between. These bursts of activity are rated on the quickness and smoothness. The barrier between an excellent player and an average one is just how good he is at coordinating between these. But that doesn’t mean that an excellent soccer player can just run fast, but along with it they should be able to show skill, think about the play and try to keep ball possession, all at the same time.
Genes or Training?
Generally it is considered that speed is something which runs in the genes and that you inherit it. To some extent that is true, but it is also a well known fact that good soccer speed training improves efficiency of the muscle fibers and helps one run fast. So even if you don’t come from a family of sprinters, be sure you do good speed exercises to increase your speed.
Speed Endurance and Agility
During times of high body activity, lactose acid starts to build up in our bodies and higher levels of it lead to a decrease in force and velocity. To overcome this, one should incorporate speed endurance drills in their training sessions as these help to both decrease lactate formation as well as increase the rate of removal of it from the body, thereby helping the player maintain his speed.
Agility drills are also highly recommended as these drills help the player accelerate, decelerate and change direction whilst maintaining the speed, body balance and possession of the ball, all at the same time.
There is a wide variety of soccer speed and agility drills that help the players focus on these two aspects of the sport. The most common drill for speed training is of course sprints, which can be done in different forms such as uphill sprints, sprints with cones (zig zag sprints) and so on, to add variety to your training. Another drill is called ‘Follow the Leader’, in which you and your friends form a 20 by 20 yards box and your friend makes random runs and you follow him making sure that there is always a 2 yards distance between you two. You can also purchase a speed ladder from any soccer equipment store and practice high knee running as well as side steps on it.
It is important to remember that speed and agility training should be done in pre season training and off-season training as that is the best time to practice these so that your body can build up both speed and agility in time for the season to start. Also try to incorporate the soccer ball in foot training as well so that your training becomes transferable to the field of play and you can learn to play with the ball at a quicker speed. Lastly, sprint drills should be done at the start of the training session when you are fresh and should be kept at 20 to 30 minutes per session to get the best out of them and make sure to warm down your body after the session.