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Soccer speed drills - 8 tips on how to get faster for soccer

Updated on May 17, 2024
8 mins read
Soccer speed drills - 8 tips on how to get faster for soccer
Soccer speed drills - 8 tips on how to get faster for soccer

Speed in soccer is the fabric that holds all other skills together to make a successful player and team. That’s why soccer speed drills need to be among team development workout activities. Dribbling, passing, and shooting are fundamental if your team has to have a that competitive edge during a match. But your players won’t stand a chance unless they are fast.

In soccer, speed refers to 4 major components;

  1. Pure speed - the rate at which the player moves from point A to point B with or without the ball.
  2. Technical speed - this is game action speed, and it involves controlling and manipulating the ball at speed while changing direction whenever necessary.
  3. Reaction speed - the ability to process and react quickly to actions from teammates and opponents.
  4. Mental speed is about rapid decision-making based on what’s happening around the ball.

When you look at these components closely, you’ll realize that they can only be perfected when playing the game. However, a couple of soccer speed and agility drills can help develop a foundation for the four types of speed highlighted above.

Of importance, remember that being fast is not enough. You also need to include soccer conditioning drills into the mix. The latter will ensure that your team can endure the 7 to 9.5 miles that soccer players run throughout a single match with reduced muscle injury risk.

Soccer running drills that make explosive players

1. Running uphill work

When learning how to run faster in soccer, you want to ensure that your players combine regular running with strength training. Gym-specific exercises, such as leg extensions and squats, may help increase muscle power and overall strength. But there’s almost no running involved in these activities.

Hill work, on the contrary, involves straight-ahead running while working harder to overcome gravity. This causes the muscles to contract powerfully, leading to longer and faster running strides. These running exercises for soccer also develop proper acceleration and arm movement mechanics, which are crucial for your players.

Set up and execution

  1. Identify a gentle hill in your neighborhood.
  2. To begin the drill, let your players warm up by jogging for 5-10 minutes.
  3. From the foot of the incline, let them run uphill for 5 seconds and then walk downhill to the starting point.
  4. Let them run uphill again for 7 seconds, then walk downhill.
  5. Ask them to run uphill once more for 10 seconds and then walk downhill again to cool down.
  6. The players rest for 2-3 minutes before beginning another set. Complete 3-5 sets per session. Let them repeat this workout at least once every seven days.

2. Stadium stairs speed drill

These speed training exercises for soccer will come in handy, especially if there isn’t an ascent nearby to do the grueling workouts above. Like running uphill, the stairs in your local stadium offer an excellent way to build power and develop endurance.

Unlike on flat terrain, running the stairs challenges your players to engage their hips, hamstrings, and glutes more dynamically. Also, these forward runs soccer exercises are a great way to break the monotony of pounding the tracks. We like them because they are low-impact too, so there’s less fatigue and a much lower risk of injuries.

Set up and execution

There’s almost no setup required for these acceleration soccer drills because they involve running up and down the stairs.

  1. The players run up the stairs for the first round to accumulate 15-30 seconds. They should step on each step.
  2. At the top, the players jog downstairs to the starting point.
  3. Next, they run upstairs again, skipping every other step for 15-30 seconds. So, these will be relatively longer strides.
  4. The players then jog downstairs again. This makes one rep.
  5. Let the players cool down for 1 minute before beginning the second rep. Have them perform six rounds per workout session.

3. Soccer flying sprints

Traditional sprints may get your players running on the tracks. But they can only run so far before fatigue sets in. You want to add these flying sprints to your soccer speed training program. These activities improve top-speed sprinting without the use of any training equipment besides 2 or 3 cones.

These acceleration drills for soccer involve starting at a relatively slower speed and then building into a full-speed sprint before slowing down. This makes them a multipurpose activity that you can use to work on your players’ acceleration and deceleration. You can also have your players do them alongside other soccer agility drills if you want to improve their running mechanics: are they maintaining the correct running posture? Are they moving their knees up as they should?

Set up and execution

  1. Position one cone at the starting point, another 20 yards away, and the third 20 yards from the second cone.
  2. To perform the sprint, the player should start at a jogging speed and accelerate to around 75% of their top speed up to the second cone.
  3. From the second cone, the player sprints toward the third cone before decelerating.
  4. Let them jog back to the starting point and rest for 2-3 minutes before going for the second rep.
  5. Have them make six reps per training session.

To increase your players’ top speed, we recommend performing these soccer sprint training drills at least twice weekly. Throughout the sprint, keep an eye on your players and encourage them to maintain a proper sprinting stance by slightly leaning forward with their arms bent at a 90-degree angle. They should also stay on the balls of their feet to allow effortless acceleration and deceleration.

4. Push start speed exercises for soccer

During a match, soccer players often have to accelerate on a dime from different angles, postures, and foot positions. The push-start soccer sprint workout is one of the best exercises because it focuses on the player’s start mechanics and reaction speed.

Most coaches also rely on it when teaching beginners how to get faster for soccer because it develops their leg drive. It also builds hip power, which is necessary for balancing lower body strength.

Set Up and Execution

  1. Set 2 cones around 20 yards/meters apart.
  2. The players start the drill by getting in the push-up position at the first cone.
  3. At the coach’s cue, the player gets up and sprints at full speed toward the second cone.
  4. From the second cone, let the player jog towards cone 1 to allow for recovery.
  5. Repeat 6-8 times per session.

Thanks to the nature of these soccer running drills, your beginners don’t need to have a perfect sprinting posture. Because the players start low, they can get to the acceleration angle more naturally. Again, your players can perform this soccer sprint workout at home without the coach. This will further increase their ability to run faster in soccer.

5. Lean, fall, sprint acceleration drill

Up next is one of the most basic acceleration drills for soccer on this list. Nevertheless, most coaches and trainers consider it an essential workout in speed and agility training drills for soccer because it teaches correct sprinting and running body angles. It also develops practical front and backside running mechanics while training players to accelerate from a standing position.

Set up and execution

  1. Ask the players to stand with their feet hip-width apart. They must also keep their body rigid from the neck to the toes to allow explosiveness.
  2. Starting from the upright position, the player leans forward slowly until they almost fall onto their face.
  3. As they lean, ask them to raise their heel to stand on the balls of their feet. They should avoid bending at the waist.
  4. To explode out of the fall, the players should drive one knee up while pushing off the ground with the other leg to sprint forward. The elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle to help gather enough strength for the sprint.
  5. The player accelerates to full speed and runs for 20 yards before walking back for recovery.
  6. Repeat 6-8 reps while taking enough rest when necessary.

6. Sprint-backpedal repeats

A key component for a great soccer player is switching from sprinting forward to backpedaling (and vice versa). This is especially important for the defenders. But everyone else in the team, including the goalkeeper, should possess this ability to keep up with the ball's movements.

One of the speed training workouts for soccer that focus on this trait is the sprint-backpedal drill. We recommend this drill because, when perfected, it closely mimics the natural movements during a soccer match. The mechanics of this activity also makes it a very effective workout, among other acceleration and deceleration drills for soccer.

Set up and execution

  1. Begin by arranging five cones in a straight line, leaving a distance of 5 yards between them.
  2. Starting from cone 1, the player leans forward and sprints to cone 3.
  3. At cone 3, the player backpedals fast to cone 2.
  4. Next, they pull forward at full sprint up to cone four before backpedaling to cone 3.
  5. Lastly, they change direction and sprint to cone five before gradually decelerating.

To enhance the effectiveness of this acceleration drill, encourage the players to generate enough force from the balls of their feet and push their knees up when sprinting. When backpedaling, they should keep their core set and maintain a low posture.

7. Bounce and hop soccer speed drills with a ball

Soccer ladder drills offer some of the best ways to get faster for soccer. You’ll see these soccer speed and agility drills often incorporated into other workouts because they not only boost agility and quickness but also improve the players’ overall control of the ball- all at the same time.

Set up and execution

  1. The player starts by standing inside the first square of the ladder. The ball should be just outside the first square, either to the right or left.
  2. To start, the player positions one foot on top of the ball and then hops to the second square of the ladder with the other foot. While hopping, the player uses the foot on the ball to roll it along the length of the ladder.
  3. The player continues to hop through all the boxes while rolling the ball up to the last square of the ladder.
  4. In the last square, the players turn around and hop back to the starting point to make one rep. Notably, the players should alternate their feet to hop on the foot that was initially rolling the ball.
  5. Repeat 8-10 times with 1-2 minutes break rests between each rep.

8. Dynamic suicide running drill

One of the oldest high-intensity soccer speed exercises, suicides involve sprinting to multiple progressively distant points as fast as possible. This drill trains your players to play more quickly in soccer by forcing them to push through physical and mental exhaustion to complete a set goal.

Set up and execution

  1. Start by setting up five cones in a line leaving 10-15 yards between them.
  2. The player starts sprinting from cone 1 to cone two before turning around cone 2 to sprint to cone 1.
  3. From cone one, sprint to cone 3, go around the cone and sprint back to 1.
  4. Repeat this pattern to the fifth cone and run back to cone 1 to complete one rep.

Suicides offer a fun way for your players to sprint 200 yards without realizing it. As your players get used to it, they can add variations to the drill by sprinting forward and backpedaling to cone 1, and sprinting while dribbling is another effective way of training them how to kick a soccer ball while running.

While training your players to improve speed and excellent ball control, you also want to increase their reflex and reaction time. With its App-powered smart flash training system, Blazepod is the right tool for this job. This pro-level training kit supercharges your workout sessions by triggering your players’ quickness in responding to visual cues leading to improved agility, reaction time, balance, coordination, and strength.