Speed is a hot topic in the soccer community. Or should I say football, as today’s guest post comes from the lads across the pond?
This is a thorough article on how footballers can develop speed. Today’s guest post comes from Ben Cartwright, founder of Football Fitness Federation. Enjoy.
Top 5 Mistakes Made By Players When Developing Speed
From working with thousands of players from International to amateur level we have seen many patterns that occur when players prepare/train for the game.
This blog gives you the information to adapt your training to ensure the work you do away from the pitch transfers to your performance on it.
Here are the top 5 mistakes we see players making when developing speed.
1. Intensity too low, Volume too high, Recovery too short
True speed training has to be of a HIGH intensity. The SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands) means that if we train slow we become slow, if we train fast we become fast. To allow ourselves to carry out high speed sprinting we MUST allow our body adequate recovery. We often see players completing ‘speed’ sessions, which include far too many repetitions and essentially turn into a conditioning session including quick movements. If you’re sweating and panting when doing a speed session you’re probably not training true speed qualities.
2. Too much focus on fast feet and not enough on developing force
Yes they look great on social media! Running through sand or ladders with lightening quick steps may get plenty of Instagram likes but this is not going to benefit your speed on the pitch.
If this was a sport in itself it would be pretty impressive but its not. To improve speed it isn’t the speed of your steps you should be focusing on, it is the force you produce in each step. One of many reasons why we are an advocate of using resisted sprints with players.
Improving the force you can produce into the ground will increase your running speed. This has to then be applied in game specific situations to allow your speed to be effective on the pitch.
We all know a player who is rapid in sprinting drills but never looks that quick on the pitch! & Vise versa!
3. Players use techniques and methods used by sprinters
Don’t take this the wrong way; sprint coaches & techniques used by sprinters are obviously extremely effective when developing straight-line speed. They are the experts after all. If players need to develop technique (which many do) then working with a sprint coach can be extremely beneficial. However this alone is NOT enough! You have to learn how to apply that speed on the pitch and in game scenarios. There is absolutely no point in possessing lightening speed without being able to use it. There are many players that if you tested them in a race would probably finish towards the back but they are able to produce rapid movements on the pitch!
4. Not enough integration into game situations
Everything you do to prepare needs to benefit your performance on the pitch. Spending countless hours in the gym or training pitch is great and is more than many other players are doing but it has to be improving your performance otherwise its essentially pointless. To allow the transfer from gym/training pitch to performance you must carry out practices in game situations. This allows you to develop position specific strength and react to external stimuli that you will be required to during a game.
5. Too much focus on timed sprints
This seems to be an area we have noticed more and more recently. Players, coaches and parents becoming obsessed with what timing gates are saying to determine how fast players are. Monitoring speed through sprint testing is carried out worldwide by coaches and clubs. This obviously gives an indication of how fast a player can move. However there seems to be far too much of a focus on what the stopwatch says and not what coaches see on the pitch. Again performance on the pitch has to be the priority! We are not saying to never use timing gates but use them wisely & as part of an overview of a player’s progression not just the sole focus.
In summary we do not want to discourage players from doing extra work to improve speed and performance. We do however want players to become aware that with these changes they will improve the efficiency of what they do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ben Cartwright is the founder & Lead Performance coach of Football Fitness Federation. Ben has been involved in football for over 20 years, transforming from a playing career to performance coaching. During his career he has been fortunate enough to play in competitions such as the FA Cup & FA Vase. Ben’s previous roles include Strength & Conditioning coach at Wigan Athletic Academy. Ben’s passion for football steered him to pursuing a degree in Sport & Exercise Science and led to working in Strength & Conditioning in football. Ben’s passion lies with providing players with training and nutrition knowledge and information that wasn’t available to him.
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