Preseason and In-season Strength to Speed Mini Program

By Ed Dudley (Reprinted with permission from Performance Conditioning Soccer)

The following program is done on strength and speed days when we don't have time to get into the weight room with the athletes. Our practices, beyond the technical and tactical, emphasize one of two things, strength and speed or conditioning. We never emphasize both on the same day. Because we are working with female athletes, a lot of what we do is for knee stability and prevention of ACL problems. The program is done twice a week during pre- and in-season as part of practice. We do it at the start of practice, after warm-up, when the athletes are fresh. After the strength part, we do speed work and then move into the technical and tactical portion of practice.

Warm-up is performed within a 40-yard span. We do 360-degree turns and plant, then cut back and forth doing high knees, heel-to-buttocks and a number of different exercises, which we vary from practice to practice. We then move into half, three-quarter and full speed sprints in the brief time period after warm-up.

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Strength to Speed Program

Exercises are done in 20- to 30-second intervals of high, short-burst intensity with a rest period of 45 seconds. We do a total of two or three sets of each exercise. We start with strength exercises and transition to speed exercises. The speed exercises are constantly changed choosing from a menu of almost a hundred different variations. Here is a sampling of these exercises:

Spins: An athlete back pedals at half speed, spins and sprints 20 yards forward. A variation would be to back pedal at full speed, spin and run at half speed.

Forward Roll and Up: The athletes enjoy these. They run, do a forward roll, come up and sprint.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Exercise 1: Athletes stand back-to-back and get into a parallel squat position. Arms are interlocked. On command, the athletes push each other, driving with their legs. They try to win the contest by pushing partner as hard as possible. It's important to pair athletes of similar height and strength levels in all these partner strength exercises. (Figure 1)

Exercise 2: Athletes stand back-to-back and perform deep squats (below a parallel squat position), then return to starting position. Tempo is controlled; arms interlocked. Be sure the athletes are in rhythm as they achieve full, deep position (Figure 2). Do 20 to 30 repetitions. This will be a difficult exercise to perform at the start. Care must be taken to ensure a good and low position.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 3

Exercise 3: Athletes stand face-to-face with arms on partner's shoulders. On command, they push each other, driving with their legs. They try to win the contest by pushing partner as hard as possible. (Figure 3)

 

Figure 4

Figure 4

Exercise 4: Athletes stand sideto-side, shoulder-to-shoulder; arms interlocked. On command, they walk forward, pushing each other and driving with their legs. It's important to note that the walk the athlete's take forward is not a running pace. This exercise works the knees from a different angle. They try to win the contest sideways. Reverse sides and repeat. (Figure 4)

Figure 5

Figure 5

Exercise 5: One athlete stands to the back of the other athlete with arms on partner's shoulders. On command, the athlete with his or her back to the other athlete drives the legs while partner resists. Resistance is done for 20 yards. Change partners and repeat. (Figure 5)

Exercise 6: Athletes stand face-to-face. The resisting athlete places arms on the running athlete's shoulders. On command, the running athlete drives legs and arms while partner resists. Resistance is done for 20 yards. Change partners and repeat. (Figure 6)

Exercise 7 (5-10-5): A series of three cones are lined up five yards apart. The entire team performs this exercise together. Athletes start off the middle cone. We do a series of variations with this activity. We may jog forward, back pedal 10 yards and side shuffle back to the start. The combinations are almost endless. (Figure 7)

Exercise 8 (Mirror Drills): Two 4 x 4 grids are marked by cones. Two athletes face each other with one designated as the leader. The athletes perform a variety of side-to-side, back and forth, and diagonal movements with or without a soccer ball. Reverse the leader and follower roles of the athletes and repeat. A variation of this is doing reverse mirrors where the athletes
move in opposite directions. This is exercise is fun to do and popular among the athletes. (Figure 8)

Exercise 9 (Stars): Set up an 8 x 8 or 10 x 10 grid marked by cones. Athletes run
around the cones in sequence as illustrated. Once an athlete completes the pattern the next athlete starts. We do sets of four repetitions with four athletes at each station, giving us a work-to-rest ratio of one-to-four. A variation of this would be
to stop and cut at the cones (plant turn) and continue the pattern. Various movement patterns can be performed off this pattern (Figure 9). Exercise 9 completes the program. This sequence works straight-ahead speed. You can vary it to focus on lateral speed or introduce more backpedaling for defensive specialists. Following are additional exercises you can add to your menu of speed exercises.

Roll Series: An athlete dives onto the ground, performs a roll, gets up as quickly as possible and runs forward for 20 yards. She walks back to start toward the sprint and stands up. Then she turns and rolls away from the sprint, stands up and sprints. By adding a back pedal series, we end up with four different roll directions. This series is especially beneficial for female soccer players because I believe they don't have a lot of experience falling and rolling (Figures 10a-10f)

Spins: An athlete back pedals at half speed, spins and sprints 20 yards forward. A variation would be to back pedal at full speed, spin and run at half speed.

Forward Roll and Up: The athletes enjoy these. They run, do a forward roll, come up and sprint.


The movements needed to play soccer make it one of the most demanding sports in the world and one of the most demanding sports on our bodies. It is a sport that requires us to accelerate, decelerate, cut, change direction, and accelerate again. Speed, and the movements most associated with speed, often gets overlooked in our training programs. If you look at the movements needed to play soccer and the demands of the game of soccer, we as coaches and players need to incorporate more speed training into our programs in order to train for the demands that we will experience during practices and games and these speed training programs will result in a faster and more powerful and explosive player on the pitch.

Comment

Performance Conditioning Soccer

Ken Kontor is founder and president of Performance Conditioning Inc. His company is the world’s largest single source of sports-specific conditioning information. Among the educational resources provided are Performance Conditioning Volleyball, Cycling and Soccer newsletters now in their 14th year of publishing and 15 sports-specific conditioning books and training card systems. He is a founding member of the USA Volleyball Sports Medicine and Performance Commission and was instrumental in the establishment of the Volleyball Conditioning Accreditation Program (V.C.A.P.) curriculum offered through the USA Volleyball Coaching Accreditation program. Among his contributions to this program was writing the curriculum. He has established the Off-bike Conditioning curriculum promoted by USA Cycling. In the past he has worked with USA Roller Sports and USA Triathlon producing conditioning specific newsletters. Prior to the establishment of Performance Conditioning Inc., Mr. Kontor was a founding father, executive director and publications editor of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) for 14 years an organization of over 16,000 sport conditioning professionals. He was an original member of the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist committee that established the internationally recognized C.S.C.S. credential. He has traveled extensively throughout the world including the former Soviet Union, East Germany and the Leipzig Institute of Sport, Hungary and Bulgaria with the purpose of introducing their strength and conditioning methods to the NSCA membership. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association Inc. and the National Strength and Conditioning Association of Japan. He has lectured extensively on the conditioning of athletes throughout the world.