You want to be fast.
You want to bolt past defenders.
You want to run onto a breakaway and bury the game winner.
You want to zip down the flank and make the crowd “ooh” and “ahh.”
Speed is a skill that is empowering and exuberant. It allows you to execute some of the most game changing actions in soccer.
Remember Rose Lavelle’s run through the seams that left Dutch defenders in the dust during the World Cup Final?
Yeah, all speed.
Remember every goal Alex Morgan has scored?
Yeah, all speed.
So let me ask you this: how much time are you spending to work on developing speed?
It’s not enough to tap dance through agility rings and run through ladders. In fact, these are the furthest drills from speed development you can do. Yes, they’re great as warm-up, but that’s it.
To truly develop speed, are you working on your stride length, combined with stride frequency?
Are you putting in the repetitions daily to become more coordinated, balanced and rhythmic?
Are you exerting maximal effort during your sprint drills?
Are you tracking your speed times by the millisecond and competing against yourself to break new personal records?
To be a lightning speed lady baller, it’s going to take commitment to a lifelong pursuit of being your most explosive self.
I urge you to drop the two-week speed camps, and instead, dedicate your career to year-round speed development.
As famous track coach Tony Holler says, “speed grows like a tree.”
You nourish it by working on the mechanics weekly, and then you allow it to blossom with maximal effort sprint work.
So grab your measuring tape, your stopwatch and tracking notebook, and buckle up for the true journey of speed building.
My goal with this blog is to give you actionable solutions for boosting your speed – ones that you can do daily so you are an efficient and smooth mover, as well as powerful runner.
As long as you put in the work with these exercises over time, you will thrive.
Let’s do this:
1. Crawling Patterns
It’s not an article written by Fitsoccerqueen if I don’t mention crawling. This is one of my favorite movements to do daily that provides a plethora of benefits for speed.
Crawling boosts coordination, as well as builds total body strength in the legs, core and shoulders – all muscle groups that work in conjunction with one another when executing a sprint.
Here are to crawling variations to do daily for 100-500 steps a day:
2. Front Side Mechanics
Just like soccer skills, speed needs to reinforce proper technique for muscle memory.
Here is a drill that helps you to work on a high knee drive (up to the belly button), as well as ball of foot strike. Be sure to keep your big toe pointed forward (not down), so the ball of the foot can strike the ground.
This is also a great time to work on posture, so keep eyes looking straight ahead, a proud chest, and shoulders back. An open posture allows you to have more range of motion in the hips, so the knee drive is optimized for vertical force production.
Perform 2 sets 30 seconds each side.
Now it is time to sprinkle in the upper extremity mechanics and focus on arm movement. Be sure to keep the arms at about 80-90 degrees of elbow flexion and bring the hands from hip to chin. The arms should be moving in a contralateral fashion with the legs, so if one arm is back, the opposite leg is forward and these switch simultaneously.
The arms are more of a trunk stabilizer when it comes to sprinting, so this is why they shouldn’t be crossing the body, or swaying across mid-line. Ensure they stay on the side of the rib cabe, and the hand swings from chin to hip.
Perform 3 sets 30-45 seconds.
4. Marching A Skip Blends
The next movement is an opportunity for you to show off your coordination and technique, combined with rhythm.
You don’t need to be a good dancer to nail this down, but you do need to move in a fluid manner. I always say, if this feels awkward, it probably is. ;-O
Perform 3 sets, 30-45 seconds, then venture into the lateral plane (in the second video) to get more hip recruitment and gluteus medius activation for healthier knees.
The drills above are the ingredients for the speed cake to bake, now the sprinting is the icing for the speed to look amazing.
Sprinting involves firing of the Central Nervous System, and it needs to be exposed to a high intensity of running in order to learn this neural pattern.
Once you nail down the fundamentals motor skills from Crawling, Marching, and A Skips, sprinting your best becomes easy.
Please ensure you get adequate rest time, though, so each sprint is maximal effort for the nervous system.
I recommend running 30-40 yard sprints a few times a week, with a 6-8 minute rest in between reps. Yes! The rest is that long.
Take a moment to look at the sunset, crack a joke with a friend, or go for a recovery walk down the pitch, then line up on the line again and go with full effort.
Each rep, you’re competing against your times, so be sure to track everything. But be careful not to get frustrated if you don’t beat your times each week.
The more you work on speed fundamentals for several months and years, as well as continue to grow into a strong young woman, you’ll see your personal records get better over time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erica Suter is in her 8th year as a certified strength and conditioning coach in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as online for thousands of youth soccer players. She works with kids starting at the elementary level and going all the way up to the college level. She believes in long-term athletic development and the gradual progression of physical training for safe and effective results. She helps youth master the basic skills of balance, coordination, and stability, and ensures they blossom into powerful, fast and strong athlete when they’re older. She has published a books on youth strength and conditioning, Total Youth Soccer Fitness 365, a year-round program for young female soccer players to develop their speed, strength and conditioning, as well as prevent injury.