How to Become a Faster Soccer Player
Anyone who watches professional soccer understands the importance of speed in a game, especially when they watch a player like Theo Walcott, who routinely blazes past English Premier League defenders as a winger at Arsenal. At the youth level, when players aren’t necessarily in the best shape, having the edge in speed will greatly improve your game and will help you win loose balls all over the soccer field. And so how can one improve their speed? Here are some tips:
Speed begins with being in shape. Therefore, be as healthy as possible. I know this is not the advice that any child wants to hear, but do refrain from over-indulging on candy and soft drinks. Yes, these things are delicious and can be enjoyed on an occasional day, but if you seriously want to improve your speed and conditioning, you will probably want to cut back. Instead, drink water and juices, and snack on fruits or carrots, as these are much healthier options.
But this is just the start. Speed comes from training your muscles. Therefore, on days when you don’t have a soccer practice or game, go outside and run around. Play a pick-up game of any sport, even tag, just to keep running and building up speed. If you have no one to play with, go for a mile-long jog. If you can successfully run a mile without having to stop and walk, you are well on your way to getting in excellent shape.
Soccer is an interesting sport, however, as it requires a mix of sustained jogging and short bursts of sprints. One of the best drills I used to do in practice was for everyone to jog at a light pace in a single file line. The person at the rear would sprint to the front, and when he or she reached that point, the resulting end person began his or her own sprint. This way, everyone is constantly jogging but also working on their speed by occasionally sprinting. Having solid conditioning is key, because it will enable you to still be able to sprint late in the game. No matter how quick you are, if you cannot sustain that speed for the entire duration of a game, you will be lacking as a soccer player.
Do be careful when training for speed in soccer. Young soccer players are very susceptible to injuries from over-working their bodies, which still have lots of development to do. If you are feeling particularly sore, this is not the time to fight through the pain and carry on. Also, always take days off from training so that your body can rest, just make sure those days relaxing don’t become the norm!
As soccer players develop and approach their later teen years, speed actually becomes less of a factor because nearly everyone is in excellent shape. Therefore, only phenomenal sprinters will really be able to carry an edge on the soccer field. Be sure to focus on the other facets of your skills such as ball control, passing, and shooting as well. However, if you do want to make an impact on the soccer field, working on overall conditioning and sprinting will help a ton!