I am currently sitting in front of the TV watching the Netherlands against Denmark in the World Cup.
What comes to mind is the way the players move on the soccer field.
Both of these 2 teams have a lot in common, and sometimes Denmark is referred to as “Little Netherlands”, mainly because their way of playing the game is highly influenced by the way Netherlands are playing the game.
If you have watched the World Cup so far, you know that speed is of extreme importance, even at elite level. Players like Ji Sung Park and Lionel Messi are both small players, but their way of moving on the field is what really matters.
So what exactly is soccer speed?
By looking at a game in the World Cup, you can easily find what type of movements players are using on the soccer field, and to mention a few:
– Linear acceleration from standing, walking, jogging (from 5-40 meter, mostly in the range of 5-15 meters)
– Side shuffle (a lot in defense, especially in 1 v 1 situations)
– Cutting (running at high speed an performing a quick and rather “small” change of direction)
– Back pedal (backing out to create space for your team-mates)
– Deceleration (from high speed to a rapid stop, often when applying pressure in defense)
– Change of direction (can be both with an without the ball, in defense and offense)
– Jumping (to win a header)
These are just some of the many movements that occur on a soccer field, and when it comes to soccer speed, just learning how to run straight ahead like a Track & Field sprinter won’t get you faster on the soccer field. Sure, it would help you when running 40-100 meters, but how often does that occur in a soccer game?
Not that often.
You need to be able to accelerate from different positions (straight, in angles, from the side, etc), learn how to decelerate rapidly and change a direction, and so on.
The most common distance in a soccer game is between 10-20 meters, and you play the game for 90 minutes. So when trying to develop soccer speed with your players, remember the importance of teaching them how to move effectively in all types of directions. And some of this training should be done with the ball, and some of it without the ball!
Multi-directional is really what soccer speed is all about, don’t forget that!