Soccer combines elements from other sports including running, jumping, and the ability to use your upper body to shield the ball. Since the game is getting faster, one thing that every soccer player should be cautious about is working on their speed.
By practicing running faster in soccer, you will be achieving two things simultaneously. Firstly, you will be increasing your speed and the distance you can cover within a short time.
Secondly, you will be increasing your endurance. That means you will be able to run more distance without getting overly tired.
Soccer can be unpredictable. Although it is designed to last for 90 minutes, when there is a tie, it can go into 30 minutes of extra time to break the tie. Preparing for that extra half-hour can help you to keep up with the pace of the game.
From counterattacks to getting away from a defender after a successful dribble, running fast in soccer is a priceless skill. Running faster requires lots of physical preparation and we are going to tell you all about it.
How To Run Fast in Soccer?
Speed is a skill that completes a few other skills in soccer. For example, after dribbling an opponent, you will need to get away from them as fast as you can. A dribble cannot be said to be successful if you don’t get away from your marker afterward.
In addition to shooting and dribbling, every soccer team has speed drills among their weekly soccer drills—and you should too. Faster players will always have a competitive advantage over slower players in a soccer game.
It is not a coincidence that some of the best soccer players today have insane speed compared to the rest. For example, Kylian Mbappe as of 2022 was ranked the fastest soccer player in the world by Le Figaro (a French newspaper).
Mbappe runs as fast as 36 km/h. Other soccer players with incredible speed are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (35.5 km/h), Mohamed Salah (35 km/h), and Kingsley Coman (35 km/h). Increasing your speed by half a kilometer per hour can have an incredible impact on your performance.
If you have been looking for how to run fast in soccer, we will tell you all you need to know including a secret that many trainers will never tell you.
Method 1: Sprinting drills
Speed is not something that you build overnight. It takes persistent practice to run fast without exhausting yourself on the soccer pitch. Including five reps of 20-yard sprints in your weekly training routine will increase your speed in a short time.
- Pre-drill warm-up
Don’t just go to the field and start pushing your speed or you will be opening yourself to muscle pull and muscle tear. Start with warm-up exercises like ‘open the gate’, ‘close the gate’ ‘grapevine’, ‘kick outs’, and so on.
- Light sprints
Once you are done with your warm-up, proceed to light sprints which are basically running about twenty yards at 50% of your top speed. Do this for three to four reps.
- Sprinting form
When it is time for the actual sprinting drill, pay attention to your sprinting form which is basically your posture. Having the wrong posture or sprinting form will slow you down. Below are the things you should be doing when sprinting.
Pump your arms: your arms should bend into a V and move in rhythm with your body.
Initial strong spring: push your toes into the ground to serve as a springboard that pushes you forward.
Lean forward: springing from a forward-leaning position will reduce the resistance and increase your initial burst.
Bend low to change direction: soccer players rarely run in a straight line. When it is time to change direction, make sure that you bend low to increase your center of gravity.
Drill 1: Explosive drills
Explosive drills push you against gravity. The idea is that if you achieve a certain speed while running against gravity, you will easily exceed that speed when you run on a plain field.
Explosive drills usually combine short sprints with longer slower movements. One of the explosive sprints that we strongly recommend is running hills.
As the name suggests, this drill simply means running up a hill. This drill provides more resistance which forces you to apply more force to get to the top of the hill faster.
Alternate your speedy sprint up the hill with a slower jog down the hill. For the explosive drill, you can do 5 to 10 runs up the hill per set and observe about a 3-minute break between each set.
If there are no hills around where you can practice this drill, you can use an athletic parachute to simulate the resistance presented by the hill.
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Also, running up the stairs can provide the same resistance as running up a hill. The only difference here is that you have to be more careful with your step.
Drill 2: Long runs
Soccer is not like a marathon where the athletes run from the beginning to the end without stopping. In soccer, players will rarely run for a minute or two without interruption from other players.
However, long runs can help you to boost your endurance which also comes in handy when it comes to running faster in soccer. However, when incorporating long runs into your training routine, it is always important to do it moderately or it would be counterproductive.
Method 2: Strength training
Several studies have shown that strength training can help athletes run faster. Strength training such as lunges, squats, and pushups help soccer players to build muscles.
Strength training can help soccer players to build explosive muscles. Ideally, a stronger leg should generate more force that will better propel you forward.
Soccer players with explosive muscles can use it for body mechanics to increase their speed. One soccer player that easily comes to mind in this regard is Adama Traore.
At 36.6 km/h, he is one of the fastest soccer players in the twenty-first century. While building stronger legs, make sure that you balance it with building a stronger core to improve your balance.
Method 3: Wear the right soccer cleats
There are no magic soccer cleats that will automatically increase your speed. However, wearing the right soccer cleats can make it easier for you to reach your maximum speed.
Firstly, make sure that the soccer cleat that you will be using for your game is designed for the surface of the pitch. For example, using a firm ground soccer cleat on soft ground can affect your speed.
Heavier soccer cleats will easily slow you down. To run faster, choose soccer cleats that are lighter and have the right spikes for the surface that you will be playing on.
Method 4: Improve your diet
Your diet will affect your performance on and off the pitch—and that includes your speed. Foods rich in protein like turkey, fish, and cowpea can help you to build muscles.
Also, running requires a high energy reserve. For you to run fast in soccer, you need to stay hydrated and eat a good amount of carbs like pasta or rice.
Knowing the time to eat is just as important as knowing what to eat. Soccer players are advised to eat 3 or 4 hours before the start of the match.
When the timing of your eating is wrong, you will be unable to run fast. In addition to that, you stand the risk of coming down with a stomach cramp.
Method 5: Wear the right jersey
Professional soccer players usually get a regular supply of soccer kits and this point may not be an issue. However, amateur soccer players usually don’t have that luxury. If you are in the latter category, wearing the right jersey can improve how fast you run in soccer.
Your soccer jersey should be form-fitting and light. A jersey that is bigger than your form will increase wind resistance which will slow you down.
Also, your shorts should not be over your knee. When your shorts are above your knee, they can get caught on your knee cap as you sprint. Ideally, your soccer shorts should be 2 or 3 inches above the knee.
Method 6: Practice sprinting with the ball
With the help of cones, practice sprinting with the ball. The first thing that you will notice is that your form when with the ball will be different from your form without the ball.
While running with the ball, try controlling the ball with both the inside and the outside of the foot. An important secret to running with the ball is to maintain short strides rather than long steps.
Set two cones at different intervals and try running with the ball through the cones. Your goal here should be to go as fast as you can without losing control of the ball.
No matter how fast you become as a soccer player, if you don’t know how to run with the ball, all that speed will be useless. This is because in soccer you will mostly be running with the ball.
The thing that some trainers will not tell you about how to run fast in soccer is that your weight can limit how fast you can run. Sometimes, all you need to run faster is to shed a few pounds.
Also, it is better to stick to a routine rather than running randomly. Plan out your training such that you increase different aspects of your running gradually.
For example, if you have four training sessions a week, you can dedicate two sessions to plyometric and other drills that improve your speed. Then you dedicate one session to improve changing direction while running and the last will be on how to run with the ball.
Splitting your running drills into different distinct days allows you to focus on one aspect every time. This is usually more effective than switching from one intention to another within the same training session.
It is easy to claim that you can multitask. However, at the end of the day, you will discover that you are more efficient when you focus on one task or learning objective at a time.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!