Increase Your Soccer Speed With 4 Sprint Drills

STACK Expert Tony Duckwall offers 4 drills to improve your acceleration and speed on the soccer field.

Speed and agility training is a priority for soccer players.

On the field, you're in an upright posture, performing quick, choppy steps on your mid-foot as you pass or dribble the ball. You have to train to angle your foot so that it hits the ground with maximum power and drive your legs with your hip muscles, or else your positioning might slow you down. Your knees need to move up and down like pistons, pushing behind the center of mass to drive your body forward. And the balls of your feet should hit the ground first.

These speed drills will help you get the right form and be a force to be reckoned with on the field.

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Soccer Sprint Drills

Sprint-Backpedal Repeats

This drill simulates field movements, like when a defender has to read a play and attack the ball. It also reinforces proper acceleration mechanics when changing from a backpedal to a sprint.

  • Set up five cones in a straight line 5 yards apart. Number them 1-5.
  • Standing at Cone 1, lean and sprint to Cone 3.
  • Backpedal to Cone 2. Keep your core set, posture low and weight on the balls of your feet.
  • Change direction by driving with your legs and pushing into a full forward sprint toward Cone 4. When sprinting, get your knees up to produce force and punch the ground with the balls of your feet.
  • Backpedal to Cone 3.
  • Change direction one last time and sprint past Cone 5.

Lean, Fall and Sprint

This drill is great for learning how to fall into the correct angle and set your center of gravity to improve acceleration from a standing position.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your body rigid from ankles to neck.
  • Lean forward until you actually start to fall, to the point where if you don't step, you will literally fall on your face. This is critical to create forward momentum and approximate the angle required to accelerate effectively. Most people think they are leaning farther than they really are, so be brave!
  • As you lean, rise up on the balls of your feet. Do not bend at the waist.
  • When driving out of the fall, move your knees and push off the ground with your legs to drive your body forward.
  • Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees and swing your arms from the shoulder joint.
  • Keep your hands open and relaxed.
  • Sprint 10 to 20 yards.
  • Walk back for recovery.
  • Repeat 8 to 10 times.

Push-Up Starts

This develops leg drive and start mechanics and improves hip power, balancing out lower-body strength.

  • Set up two cones 20 yards apart.
  • Lie down on your stomach at Cone 1 with your hands in a push-up position.
  • On cue, get up and sprint past the second cone.
  • While sprinting, stay low for as long as you can.
  • Jog back to the beginning for recovery.
  • Perform 6 to 8 reps.

Flying Sprints

This drill works on acceleration from a jog and simulates the movements you need to effectively transition from general field coverage to closing the gap and making a play.

  • Set up two cones 20 yards apart and a third cone 10 yards past Cone 2.
  • Stride out at 75 percent of full speed from Cone 1 to Cone 2.
  • Fall to your acceleration angle and push to full speed before passing Cone 3.
  • Jog back to the beginning for recovery.
  • Perform 6 to 8 reps.
  • For variety, the first part can be a shuffle instead of striding out.