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IFAC Reflections Part 2
January 22, 2019
A review of Jerome Simian’s workshops on physical preparation for sport. I had to choose between different “strands” of coaching topics at the IFAC conference in Loughborough. A difficult choice, not wanting to miss out on some excellent speakers. I chose to attend Simian’s because of a quote I heard on the HMMR podcast: “I […]

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How to get faster for football

How to get faster for football

With the football season finally over (for barely a few weeks!), we take a look at how you can use the off season to give you or your team the best preparation for the season to come.

Football is an increasingly high intensity and high tempo game, often decided by the smallest of margins. Having the fastest players then gives your team the best chance of success.

Speed training for football

There are two main aspects of fitness which relate to speed for football:

  1. Maximum speed– needed when chasing a long pass or an opponent.
  2. Changing direction at speed (agility)– needed to beat an opponent in a small space or to track an opponent who is trying to move into space off the ball. 

Both aspects are vital for performance in different scenarios in the game; however they require different physical abilities and should therefore be coached as separate skills.

This article will focus on improving running technique and speed. For more information on agility, see our pre-season guide to agility training

Maximum Speed

football speed trainingThe ability to run fast in a straight line can be broken down into two components:

1) Acceleration– the ability to get to top speed quickly.

The key to acceleration is horizontal displacement of body weight. Although this requires force which can be achieved through strength training, what is more important is how the force is applied and how quickly.

Training sessions (gym and field based) should include work on applying force in the right direction and as fast as possible to improve acceleration.

2) Running technique– the coordination of the body to maintain horizontal velocity with minimum energy expenditure.

Running is a skill, with key technical points to be coached. These points can be worked on in specific running sessions (see below), but can also be included in warm ups and worked on during skill sessions too.

How to apply this to football training

football speed trainingPre-season training is the optimal time to begin working on speed and running technique as players are generally fresh after a few weeks off post-season.

Speed sessions could be scheduled as standalone sessions, or at the start of a team session followed by technical skills training.

Try our speed guide with 6 sessions each designed to work on a different aspect of running technique. With 2 sessions a week, you have a ready made 3 week speed block to greatly enhance the athleticism of your players.

It is important to remember that these sessions should focus on quality, rather than quantity. Running is a technical skill and once players begin to get tired, their running mechanics will decline.

Players should have adequate recovery between efforts in order to perform the exercises well and reinforce good technique. Think of the 4 Rs:

  • Run Well
  • Run Fast
  • Rest
  • Repeat

Once players have developed their running technique and speed, sessions can then be designed to increase speed endurance and conditioning. Now your players will be able to run further, faster and then repeat that speed.

Without speed training, what will they be able to endure?

Matt Durber 

We are currently running weekly “speed training for team sports” sessions in Willand, Devon. Contact James for details.

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