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Soccer Speed PDF | Physical, Technical and Tactical Speed Exercises

Soccer Speed PDF | Physical, Technical and Tactical Speed | Exercises

Soccer Speed PDF | Physical, Technical and Tactical Speed includes 36 drills to outpace, outthink and outplay your opponent.


For one thing, today’s game is quicker. Specifically, both ball speed (as it travels from player to player) and players’ own movements are far faster than they were even just 10 or 15 years ago. Players now regularly cover some 8 miles (13 kilometers) per game because they are running faster and moving more often. In addition, playing time has increased by as much as six to eight minutes in recent years.

Players now cover distances that are some 50 percent longer than was the case 40 years ago, and high-intensity movements in particular are 50 percent more intense than at the turn of the century. On top of all this, the average time for which players now possess the ball at any given time is just two seconds. As compared with the game 10 or 15 years ago, today’s game also features more—and more accurate—passes as a key element of modern attacking play.

More teams now appear to value retaining possession as their attacks develop rather than risking a loss of possession by using direct, injudicious, long (and often hurried) forward-passing styles of play. In addition, though counterattacks have always been a profitable tactic, they are now more prominent, which challenges players to extend their technical skills in order to operate at the higher levels of the game. Overall, then, players are quicker over the ground, the ball travels faster between players, and more teams are making more passes during a game.

Soccer Speed PDF | Physical, Technical and Tactical Speed

Game-speed: Speed and Agility in Soccer

As outlined in the introduction, the game of soccer is constantly evolving. This changeability places an obligation on coaches to ensure that their players can meet the demands of the modern game in a variety of aspects: technical, tactical, psychological, and physical. In terms of physical requirements, the game is getting faster. For example, statistics from the English Premier League show that players in all positions are covering greater distances, at higher speeds, than ever before.

At this point, however, the effectiveness of these programs is open to debate. What matters in the end is how well these training methods transfer to on-field performance, and thus it is crucial to carefully examine both the exact nature of speed and agility and how exactly they relate to soccer. With that goal in mind, this chapter evaluates the precise needs for speed and agility in soccer, and the remaining chapters outline a system for maximizing soccer speed.

What Are Speed and Agility?

Training is a journey, and like any journey it needs an intended destination so that we can plan an effective route for getting there. In other words, before devising a training program, it is essential to understand where we want to go with it. For our purpose in this book, an effective soccer speed program needs to be based on a clear vision of what speed and agility are—and what an athlete can achieve through the training program. Defining this vision, in turn, requires precise definition of the terms speed and agility—and, equally important, how they apply in the context of soccer.


In its simplest form, speed can be defined mechanically as distance divided by time. As a basic mechanical construct, it is relatively simple to measure, and it is most commonly measured as the time taken to cover a given distance. In soccer in particular, speed is typically measured by means of linear sprint tests determining the time in which a player can cover distances such as 10, 20, and 30 yards (or meters).

The speed requirements are quite different because the athlete moves in an open environment in which distance, direction, and starting pattern all vary from moment to moment. In addition, the athlete’s movements need to be linked with the game’s skill requirements. Thus significant differences exist between the speed required for soccer and that practiced by track athletes, and awareness of these differences must guide the way in which soccer players develop their speed.

Maximum Speed

As the term suggests, maximum speed refers to the highest speed that a person can achieve. For sprinters, maximum speed is typically achieved somewhere between 50 and 70 meters into the sprint. Although the distance to attain top speed has typically been shown to be shorter for field-based sport players, they still require a relatively large distance (e.g., about 30 yards or meters) to reach maximum speed from a standing start.

Once maximum speed is reached, it is quite difficult to maintain, and, again, it relies on specific physical capabilities (which are discussed in chapter 2). However, given the predominantly short distances sprinted in soccer, typically under about 10 yards (or meters), it is often more important to be capable of achieving a high speed in as short a time as possible—in other words, to accelerate rapidly.


Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity—in other words, how quickly a player can increase his or her speed—and it is a crucial aspect of speed performance in soccer. Again, acceleration requires specific technical and physical preparation, and it needs to be targeted in training if it is to be improved. This is not to say that maximum speed should be absent from a soccer- specific speed program. In fact, though maximum speed takes a relatively long distance to achieve, the reality is that athletes approach maximum speed at a far earlier point in a sprint.

In addition, acceleration and maximum-speed running are performed in response to the game itself, which may require a player to accelerate in any direction at any given moment. To meet this demand, players must be able to read and react to the game at all times with appropriate levels of speed and control. This requirement for movement quality—not just speed—puts a premium on aspects of performance that have traditionally been associated with the term agility.


Unlike speed, which has a clear mechanical definition, agility is perhaps the most difficult of all fitness variables to define accurately. Even so, we must define it, because it plays a major role in determining one’s level of performance in many sports, including soccer. Elite performers consistently demonstrate effective movement capabilities, which enable them to maximize their sport-specific skills and therefore their performance.

Indeed, it is common to hear of coaches and commentators extolling the “movement capacities” of certain players, and the single fitness parameter most associated with high-quality movement is agility. One of the challenges in defining agility lies in the fact that people have often tried to define it as a single capacity. This isolating approach has traditionally involved identifying the main locomotive movements that are common in sports and integrating them into a single definition.

Then, we face this question: Will the ability to effectively read and react in, say, a tennis context transfer into soccer and vice versa? This lingering question brings up the need to view agility as a sport-specific entity—and, as a result, to the development of the term games-peed.

What Is Game-speed?

Soccer Speed PDF | Physical, Technical and Tactical Speed

As mentioned earlier, coaches often comment about a player’s quality of movement, and such comments reflect the fact that effective soccer- specific movement involves more than some sort of generic speed and agility. Great players seem to possess an ability to move effectively on the field and to link this movement with superior soccer-specific skills.

They perform such movement both on and off the ball (indeed, the vast majority of movement in a soccer game is off the ball) and in both offensive and defensive situations. Although this quality of movement is closely linked to some skills often associated with speed and agility, those skills alone cannot guarantee maxi- mal performance in a soccer game.

In addition, the player’s ability to react and respond depends on being able to assume an effective body position from which to maximize the next movement. All of these abilities, then, must be developed in an effective game-speed program.

  How Can Training Programs Maximize Soccer Game-speed?

With this understanding of game-speed in mind, we can begin considering how to create training programs that help players develop this capacity. To do so, we need to analyze in some detail the following two major areas of soccer play: speed requirements and types of movement.

Identifying the Speed Requirements of Soccer (soccer speed)

Speed development in soccer must involve far more than simply following a track athlete’s training program; specifically, it must be geared precisely to the requirements of the game. In other words, any soccer game-speed program must start with the end in mind, which requires carefully analyzing how speed is used specifically in soccer. We can build this analysis around five key questions:

1. What distances does a player typically run?

2. In what direction does a player sprint?

3. How are these high-speed actions linked with movement patterns that come before or after them?

4. What triggers the sprint?

5. What skills need to be incorporated into the movement?

The answers to these questions provide a basis on which we can develop a robust and effective soccer game-speed program by applying scientific principles of movement.

What distances does a player typically run?

Though the answer to this question varies somewhat by the position played, we can say generally that the typical high-speed movements performed in soccer are short (about 5 to 15 yards or meters). Granted, midfield and wide players (wings and wingbacks) may be required to sprint longer distances, but even these runs are usually fairly short. Overall, then, the relatively short distance of soccer sprints makes it more important for players to develop acceleration capacity than maximum speed.

Speed training, in turn, should reflect these distances that a player is likely to run while playing the game. They should also be varied appropriately to ensure that the player develops the ability to be effective over the specific range of distances normally required of his or her position in the course of a game.

In what direction does a player sprint?

Traditional speed training almost always involves starting a sprint to the front, but soccer performance is far more complex. In soccer, a player is just as likely to sprint in other directions—not just straight ahead. As a result, players must develop the ability to start not only straight ahead but also laterally (to the side) and to the rear this ability is often referred to as multidirectional speed.

How are these high-speed actions linked with movement patterns that come before or after them?

Speed in soccer is deployed in the context of the game. More specifically, one feature of soccer is that players are almost constantly in motion; as a result, apart from some dead-ball situations, they seldom apply speed from a standing start. It is vitally important, then, that training reflect this reality of the game by helping players develop the ability to accelerate from a rolling start. Analysis of the game also reveals that sprints can be initiated from a variety of preceding movements that involve a range of directions—and indeed a range of movement patterns.

What triggers the sprint?

Unlike track sprinting, where all movement is performed in response to a starting gun, movement in soccer is perceptually triggered. As a result, players need to learn to react to the game evolving around them, which means that soccer intelligence (covered in chapter 12) is crucial. Typically, a player’s movement is triggered by one of three elements:

1. Movement of opposition player(s)

2. Movement of teammate(s)

3. Movement of the ball

Therefore, incorporating these three elements into speed training can help players maximize the transfer between their training and their game performance. This is not to say that one must avoid training involving typical audio cues such as whistle starts. Such training can still play an important part in the development of basic movement capacities. However, coaches and players can also consider how to incorporate other perceptual triggers into training in order to maximize transfer to on-field performance.

What skills need to be incorporated into the movement?

This question reminds us of the need to start with the end in mind. When a player performs a speed exercise, he should be aware of the context in which the movement will be used in a game. Consider, for example, a change-of-direction drill with a subsequent sprint. By analyzing why this skill is used in actual soccer play—and what soccer skill it is likely to be linked to—we can develop a sequence of appropriate exercises that range from basic movement patterns to exercises that are highly soccer specific.

As a result, the basic training work could focus on the technical requirements of direction change, and later applied work could link this movement to the soccer actions of beating an opponent, receiving a pass, and taking a shot on goal. This approach helps a player apply movement patterns developed in training to his or her performance in the game itself.


The game is continuously evolving, and some key changes have been explained in the opening section of this book. The crucial factor, how- ever, is that the game will continue to evolve, and coaches must therefore anticipate what the game will look like some 10 to 20 years from now. The skills required will be much enhanced from the present. At the highest level, it will be the norm for players to possess the capability to operate at speed and to use changes of speed while executing soccer skills.

Athletic requirements will also be elevated, and decision-making capability will be increasingly tested as the game continues to speed up. This book has been written with all of these factors in mind and geared to cover the skills and athletic areas of development that will be foundational in the future of the game. Indeed, the abilities to think and decide at speed, to act at speed, and to change direction at speed are already crucial to high-level sport in general and to soccer in particular. And they will be even more in demand in the future. High-level sport also involves the ability to perform under pressure.

The needed skills are not only technical, tactical, and athletic but also cognitive, psychological, and emotional. Top performers handle their mental and emotional states to their advantage. While this book does not address these features of performance, the authors acknowledge their importance in the development of both young and adult soccer players, and we recommend that coaches study these domains as they progress with their players toward the future game.

Happy Coaching 😀

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