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Arms for Sprinting

by Taylor Tollison

Critical to speed in soccer is using your arms correctly. Have you ever tried to move your arms quickly while moving your legs (in a running motion) slowly? I will tell you right now it is down right difficult.

The reason is the two are basically tied together. The body works in a way that allows the arms to drive the movement of the legs. If your arms move fast so do your legs.

When teaching sprinting and speed for soccer a foundation (not the foundation) is teaching correct use of the arms. Here are some of the basic highlights to keep in mind:

  • Keep the arms at 90 degrees. But, it will not always work out to be 90 degrees. First, work to keep your arms at 90 degrees on the upswing. That is, keep the arms at 90 degrees as they move up and towards the shoulders or chin level. Second, the arms may open to about 120 degrees when they swing behind the back. That is OK. Don't punish yourself or the athlete if it opens to such a degree. In fact, because of the power of the backward swing the opening of the arm angle is ok.
  • Opposite arm, opposite leg theory applies. As the left leg goes down so does the right arm. You really don't need to think about this one, it just happens.
  • Up swing-The arms can swing up to the shoulder to chin level (this may very based on who you ask.)
  • Backswing-behind the hips. 
  • Be relaxed. Don't sprint with tightly clinched fists.
  • Practice good arm movement by using the drill shown below: