Nearly every coach or athlete we train wants to get faster, and rightly so. Speed means a player can be first to the ball, out run a backline, or catch a forward. We all value speed, the key is to understand how we develop faster athletes.
In 2015 Rumpf et al. gave a great meta-analysis of which methods produce the best sprint performance. As expected, Sprint Technique and Resisted Sprinting produced the greatest gains. However, non-specific training (strength training, power training, and plyometrics) also improved sprinting performance.
Do this — Implement these 3 components to start developing faster players:
- Technique work
For soccer players, we build these drills into their warm-up for sprint technique work.
Incorporate a progressive plyometric program into the end of a warm-up. For early teens, start with a total of 60 jumps per leg twice a week (HERE is an example), then add 12 jumps per leg each week for 6 weeks.
- High-Speed Sprinting
We also implement 3-10 (10-20 yards) max speed sprints 1-2 x week. The goal is not aerobic conditioning, but rather max efforts with full recovery. This emphasizes force production (exploding off the ground) and technique while avoiding fatigue.
These 3 elements are a great start for developing faster players. I’ve chosen to highlight them because they do not require any extra equipment and can be implemented today. However, this is only the beginning in terms of maximizing athletic development. A well-rounded program also includes strength training, power training, and energy systems development.