Considering its various energy demands, soccer is a tricky sport to train for. Certain players have to focus more on one skill than another, depending on how much running or how much physicality is required to play their position. But although the focus on strength or conditioning for specific position groups may differ, to have an impact on the field, all soccer players need speed.
The three skills most valued by soccer coaches are quick feet; top end speed; and the ability to accelerate, decelerate and reaccelerate. The following soccer-specific speed drills are designed to increase speed and develop all-around soccer athletes. They should be performed in the order presented, as each one primes you for the next. (Make sure you’re properly hydrated with these soccer-specific tips.)
This drill is great to train for reducing ground contact time. It also allows you to recover the leg fully while mimicking movements used in dribbling and side sprinting, like abduction and adduction of the leg.
Sets/Distance: 5-8×10 yards
- Find or make a line to run over
- Start off with quick steps moving forward slowly over line
- Cross left foot to right side of line and vice versa
- Keep gradually raising knee height
- When foot touches ground, keep toes up and land on ball of foot to decrease ground contact time
- Get knees up to hip height to ensure full leg recovery
- Keep arm action tight at 90 degrees
This trains acceleration, deceleration and re-acceleration in all directions, as well as first-step quickness.
Sets/Distance: 5×5 yards in all four directions
- Set up four cones to left, right, front and back of, and five yards away from, center cone
- Starting at back cone, sprint to and decelerate at center cone
- Pause for a quick second
- Accelerate to left cone
- Repeat to right cone, front cone and back to start
This is a great way to build top end speed by reinforcing basic recovery mechanics while sprinting for longer distances (more than 20-30 yards).
You can also do this drill in reverse by sprinting the first and last 20 yards and throttling down to 80% in the middle 20 yards. This trains for stride-burst-stride movement.
Sets/Distance: 6-8×60 yards
- Run in a straight line for 60 yards
- Drive hands up to chin and back to pocket
- Drive knees up to hips to simulate top speed range of motion
- Aggressively build up speed for the first 20 yards
- At 20-yard mark, sprint at 100% to 40-yard mark
- Break down to running at 80% for last 20 yards
Want more soccer training? Get a complete game plan for becoming an all-star with the STACK Summer Training Guide for Soccer.