The following is an excerpt from Training for Speed from Performance Conditioning Soccer.
By Ben Yauss, Strength and Conditioning Coach, St. Xavier High School
Yauss is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S.) through the NSCA and a Certified Personal Trainer (C.P.T.) through the American Council of Exercise.
Yauss was the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the LA Galaxy from 2009-2014.
The one question that I get asked on a daily basis from my players is “How can I get faster”, whether it’s a proven player like Landon Donovan who understands what it takes to maintain a peak level of fitness, or an up and comer like Omar Gonzalez who is looking to establish himself on both the Domestic and International level, or incoming rookies and academy players who are looking to take the next step in their playing careers. They all recognize the importance of speed training and how training for speed is necessary based on the demands they encounter on the pitch. While most would argue that soccer is an aerobic endurance based sport, over the course of a 90 minute match a player will on average make anywhere from 50 to 150 high intensity runs. These high intensity runs usually consist of sprints of 5 to 20 yards and last between 3 and 5 seconds.
So what does that mean?
It means that speed is integral to both the physical demands of soccer and the physical demands we must train in our players.
In order to train speed we first need to look at what speed is and how speed can benefit us. Speed is a product of stride length (the distance you cover with each step) and stride frequency (the number of steps you take in a certain time period). So when we run the product of speed is our stride length and frequency. In order to optimize our speed we must look speed development training programs that allow the athlete to apply greater forces into the ground and do so as quickly as possible by doing these activities we can improve our stride length and frequency and therefore run faster.
So how do we train speed?
Speed training drills are an excellent method for improving running form, technique, and power output. There are six key components that make up a good speed training program:
- Prehab and Corrective work
- Glute Activation
- Movement Prep
- Neural Activation
- Movement Skill
- Movement Strength
All of these components when incorporated into our training programs are going to reduce injuries, help with our form and movement mechanics, and allow us to strengthen the necessary movement to be more efficient, powerful, and faster on the pitch.
So what are some specific drills to work on speed?
The key to designing and implementing speed drills is being able to apply it to a specific movement or game situation. When we are training for speed we shouldn’t just be training the muscle but the movement of the muscle.
The rest of this article, including a typical speed training session performed by LA Galaxy during Yauss' tenure with the team, can be found in the Training for Speed program from Performance Conditioning Soccer in the Amplified Soccer Market.