Sprint Mechanics for Soccer

Since starting to train professional soccer players 4 years ago, one of the most common deficiencies I’ve found is in running mechanics. Many players have just one gait pattern. What I’d call ‘on the ball running.’ This is characterized by longer steps, foot contacts in front of the athlete’s center of mass, lower hips and knee recovery, and significant forward trunk inclination and neck extension. This can work….if you have possession. Even then it’s not ideal. But the real problem is when athletes are jogging slowly with a downscaled version of that same gait (not energy efficient) or need to really break open in to a full sprint and use a faster variation of the same gait characteristics (not suitable to generate the forces necessary to run fast). What was ok, and possibly even rewarded while in possession is now punished. As a result, one of the first things I try to have players do is increase their physical capacities and motor skill to be able to transition to what are effectively different gait patterns…or at the very least a more efficient variations of what they do while in possession. More to come…

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Mike Young

Director of Performance at Athletic Lab
Mike is the Head Fitness Coach for the North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC. He is also the owner and Director of Performance at Athletic Lab sports performance training center. He previously served as the fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Carolina Railhawks. He has a PhD in Biomechanics, an MS in Coaching Science, and a BSS in Exercise Physiology and has coached Olympic and professional athletes in Skeleton, Track & Field, MLS and NASL Soccer, PGA Golf, NFL Football, MLB Baseball and Olympic Weightlifting. He has lectured around the world and authored 2 books and dozens of research and coaching articles.