How to develop football speed

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One of the best attributes any player can have is explosive speed – think Kylian Mbappe or Gareth Bale, who combine lightning pace with great ball skills. The good news is that you can develop speed through training. No matter how fast you are now, you can get faster!

The components of speed

Yes, genetics play a part in how powerful and fast you are in terms of your muscular makeup, but speed in football is about a great deal more than going fast in a straight line. Practising your sprinting or lifting weights in the gym as well as stamina and resistance training can improve your overall condition, but football requires multi-directional speed and explosiveness and those are skills you can develop through the right training.

In a sport where you change direction on average every four seconds you need quick feet, good acceleration and turning skills – not to be able to sprint like Usain Bolt. And those are skills that any player can learn with the help of football training drills that focus on acceleration, deceleration, quick feet, turning skills and explosiveness.

Coaching for speed

While flat speed has its place, for football it’s more important to teach players how to move well with good technique before focusing on the speed element. Leg muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance both contribute to multi-directional speed and can be coached as part of overall speed training and conditioning.

It’s not the volume of training that gets results but the effectiveness of that training. When you visit Sportplan for football training drills, bear in mind the need to train for quickness, reactive speed, active speed and complex speed. It’s a common mistake to train each element in isolation when what developing players need is to be able to make the connections between speed, multi-directional skills, agility, tactics and perception. That way you can develop players with the full skills set needed to make it to be working at the top of their current level and move on to  the next level.

The bigger picture

Speed training may have the biggest impact on players of both sexes between the ages of 9 and 17, but that doesn’t mean that speed can’t be trained at any other age. Professional scouts and football academies look for young players with technical skills, tactical intelligence, focus, determination and physical speed. Using your drills with those factors in mind will help to develop essential techniques as part of the wider skillset of the modern player.