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When should you do speed training?

by Taylor Tollison

It is no secret that fast soccer players are important to the cause of winning. They can get to the ball faster, the margin of error is greater, and can be harder to beat. Those factors are true to a certain point. They need to have the mental aspect as well. But for the sake of this article lets say all things are equal except speed.

You probably noticed something that caught your attention. I mentioned this phrase, "there is a greater margin of error." This is something that is pretty universal in sports. If you are faster there is a greater margin of error, but why is this and what do I mean?  

Lets say two equal players are sprinting for a ball and the faster player stumbles just a bit of the start. Even though he made a small mistake, because of his speed he may still get to the ball before the other slower player. This kind of example can be used over and over again in different situations in all sports. Now this is just one reason, although obscure, why speed is important.  

Since speed is so critical to soccer is there a best time to work on speed so that it is maximized? The best time to work on speed is when you are fresh. It is a big mistake to hold speed training to the end of soccer practice or a training session. Speed training is a neuromuscular activity and thus requires fresh athletes to perform these types of activities. If you are just doing strength and conditioning work it should be done before you lift weights and before you do fitness training. If you are practicing for the day it should be before you do your heavy soccer practice work. You should warm up before you do speed training. Fresh is the key.  

This brings me to my next point. Since fresh is the key make sure your speed training does not turn into fitness training. This happens when you set out to do speed training but your rest intervals are too short, and you do too much.  

To summarize follow these critical steps in your speed training for soccer:  

  1. Put your speed training at the beginning of practice when your soccer athletes are fresh.
  2.  Do your speed training before you lift or do fitness training.
  3. Allow for ample rest in between repetitions.
  4. Don't do too many repetitions in your speed training.