I recently gave a presentation on implementing speed training for team sports and I wanted to provide some ideas on how I like to develop speed, stopping and change of direction abilities in to training. As a general rule, I keep some form of linear speed (even if just 10m acceleration) as the priority as this is the type of speed that match-analysis of many sports has been shown to be the most impactful on game results. I also try to incorporate a variety of locomotor elements such as stopping, turning, shuffling, back pedaling, double and single leg jumping and weaving with varying gait mechanics to simulate what might be experienced in game scenarios. Also, whenever possible, I will try to incorporate decision making and quick reaction elements in to the physical training as this is how ‘speed’ is most often assessed in an actual sport. So with these points in mind, here is a short video that we shot at my sports performance training center Athletic Lab on some ways in which we incorporate these ideas. Note that this video wasn’t specifically intended for soccer fitness and was presented to a larger audience of physical preparation coaches. When working with soccer, I’ll occasionally include the ball or game specific reaction elements. When doing this however you must always keep in mind the potential for those elements to constrain the physical stimulus so you sometimes have to balance ‘sport specificity’ with achieving the best physical stimulus.
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