While speed isn’t essential in soccer, being faster than your opponents gives you a significant advantage over them during a game.
In this article, I will show you specific techniques you can implement to run faster than you can right now.
You can run faster in soccer by practicing basic acceleration, velocity, and endurance drills. Learning to use your arms properly is also essential, as your arm control is proportional to your speed. These improvements will help you increase your speed during a soccer game.
In this article, you’ll learn some of the different types of speed in soccer. Then, I’ll share various drills, tips, and tricks to help you improve in each different kind of speed.
You’ll be speeding past your opponents before you know it!
Types of Speed in Soccer
To begin understanding how to run faster in soccer, it’s essential to know the different types of speed you’re required to have while moving around the soccer field.
Here are some aspects of physical speed to understand in soccer before even trying to improve your speed as a soccer player.
If you’re looking to improve your speed in soccer, this is most likely what you need to improve the most.
Pure speed is the time required to cover the distance between two points on the field. It’s the most straightforward kind of speed to measure, and it’s further subdivided into two types.
Pure speed can be divided into on-ball speed and off-ball speed.
While the names explain what they mean, on-ball speed refers to how fast you can run while retaining possession of the ball. However, off-ball speed deals with your pure speed when you do not have the ball, such as when defending against a fast opponent.
Having a pretty high pure speed is an essential quality in soccer, as that’s what most observers use to judge a player’s speed.
However, that isn’t the only kind of speed you should aim to improve while running faster.
Technical and Reaction Speed
Both technical and reaction speeds go hand in hand, and they impact your pure speed directly, affecting how fast you run.
Unfortunately, most players only pay attention to their pure speed and neglect their reaction speed, which isn’t the best option.
The soccer field isn’t a racetrack. So you can’t expect to keep running with the ball without encountering any obstacles.
Your technical speed refers to your ability to manipulate the ball while running. Your reaction speed is how quickly you can detect and react to obstacles.
If you have a decent pure, technical, and reaction speed, you’ll become the new player to beat when it comes to speed in your team.
I just want to mention mental speed here as well quickly. Although it’s hard to measure, it can make a difference for a player.
For example, one of the main advantages of mental speed is dealing with quick or instantaneous decision-making.
Although this may seem unrelated to how fast you move across the ground, it indirectly relates.
The quicker you decide to move at speed, the sooner your legs start running.
Drills, Tips, and Training Exercises to Run Faster in Soccer
Now you know the different kinds of speeds in soccer and how they’re capable of impacting your overall speed, it’s time to learn how to improve them.
Like every other skill and quality in soccer, top speed is hard to achieve. The best idea is to train continuously, improving your speed with each training session.
Before we look at my list of drills and tips, it’s important to note that you should also work on your all-around fitness to make the most of these.
My guide on how to get in shape for soccer will help you get started, and my 30-Day Soccer Fitness Guide will give you a daily step-by-step program to follow for an entire month to see your fitness jump to the next level.
Here are some of my favorite training drills, tips, and tricks to help you outrun your limits in soccer.
Practice Basic Acceleration Drills
The first step to improving your speed is knowing how to speed up.
If you can’t accelerate quickly, having a high peak speed will be pretty useless.
Hence, the first step to building up your velocity in the field of play is ensuring you can reach peak speed quickly.
Since coaches are well aware that this is the case, there are many acceleration drills to help you run faster in soccer.
While these drills won’t make you Usain Bolt overnight, you should see an improvement in your reaction and pure speed when using these drills.
Here are some of the most powerful acceleration drills to try today to improve your speed in soccer.
Try convincing your coach or a fellow athlete to help out if the drill requires more than one person.
The Falling Start Drill
When you first start trying to improve your speed, you may not have the best idea of how to start running.
Starting to run with the wrong posture will affect your initial velocity, which is a problem with your acceleration and not your speed.
That problem explains why the falling start drill is classified as an acceleration drill instead of downright velocity training.
The falling start drill is pretty simple.
It involves you standing on the toes of your feet, leaning slowly to the falling position until your body naturally pushes you to run for it. At this point, you fall into a natural running position, sprinting to the target.
The goal of this drill is simple. It teaches you how to fall into a natural running position at any point in time during a game, making it easier to accelerate and increase your speed.
Half-Kneeling Start Drill
Nobody said you’ll always be standing comfortably when starting to run towards a target in the field of play.
In most cases, you’ll be in an uncomfortable position, and one of the most common awkward positions for soccer athletes is when they’re down on a knee.
To carry out the half kneeling start drill, kneel partly on one leg while looking forward at the target. Then, at the coach’s command, try to lean forward into a neutral position with a positive sheen angle.
This drill helps to improve your first steps while gaining speed when running in a soccer game. This major acceleration drill works well for both soccer and non-soccer athletes.
Practice Push-Start Exercises to Increase Your Speed
You don’t always have to start up a race like a sprinter in soccer. Instead, most of the time, you’ll have to turn suddenly or stand up quickly after a fall and accelerate to your maximum speed almost instantaneously.
This might not come naturally to every soccer athlete.
Fortunately, you can train with push-start speed exercises to improve your speed as soon as you get up to run after the ball.
The most effective push-start speed drills are pretty straightforward, and you can set up the apparatus to get started yourself.
You only need some cones and, if possible, an extra person to serve as a coach to help you with the drills.
(If you don’t have access to any cones, these ones on Amazon are a great, affordable option.)
Here are the steps required to set up an average push-start speed drill yourself without the help of a professional coach.
- Get two training cones and set them apart by a distance of about 20 meters. Depending on your experience level, you can either decrease or increase this distance.
- At the first cone, get into the push-up position and wait for an order from the coach. The push-up position requires you to position your body like you were about to start doing push-ups when you changed your mind.
- After instruction from the coach, the player at the first cone will stand up and run as fast as possible to the second cone.
- After reaching the second cone, the athlete may jog slowly back to the first cone, breathing heavily and recuperating. Once you return to the cone, you may have to repeat the drill a couple more times before calling it a session.
The more often you try this drill; the easier it will be for you to stand from a fall during a game without slowing down your team in the least.
Implement Dynamic Suicide Drills
It doesn’t matter how fast you can run; if you can’t maintain your speed for a reasonable amount of time, your speed will be pretty useless.
The best way to train for endurance is through basic dynamic suicide running drills that push you to the extremes.
The only apparatus that you need for a suicide drill is cones.
To make the exercise more interesting, you can find others from your team interested in running faster. While you’ll typically be running dynamic suicides during training, it remains a great way to increase your speed.
These drills’ main goal is to encourage you to run to a goal without caring about physical exhaustion. Therefore, it’s essential to pay attention to yourself during a dynamic suicide drill to avoid throwing up during the exercise.
Here are the steps required to set up and complete dynamic suicide drills alone or in a group.
- Set some cones (around three to five) in a reasonably straight line with a fairly equal distance between all of them. You shouldn’t focus much on the distance between the cones, as that doesn’t matter so much.
Alternatively, you can use clear and distinguishable points on the field instead of cones.
The goal is to have marks to denote specific points on the training pitch.
- Start running from the first cone or marking to the next one. Without any pause, turn around and run back to the starting cone. From the starting cone, run-up to the third cone, and back to the first cone again without stopping to rest.
- Just like that, you continue to run until you’ve cycled all the cones.
Check out the video below showing the dynamic suicide drill.
This is a great drill for midfielders to add to the 8 Best Soccer Drills for Midfielders list.
While the dynamic suicide running drill may seem easy, it’s very exhausting.
In addition, the drill makes lengthy distances look very short, deceiving you to think you can complete the challenge due to how straightforward it seems.
If you feel exhausted in the middle of a dynamic suicide drill, it’s always best to postpone it for another day. Unfortunately, soccer athletes throwing up while trying to improve their endurance with dynamic suicide drills isn’t as rare as you think.
If you can do it bravely and consistently for some time with other speed drills, you’ll be able to run fast and maintain your speed throughout a standard soccer match.
Improve Your Arm Techniques
Running in soccer is different from running in the Olympics or any other sport.
While running, you want to keep your arms close to ensure you’re not violating any of the several soccer rules that concern what you do with your arms.
The only way to effectively position your arms correctly while running in soccer is to learn it consciously. Using your arms correctly prevents you from tiring yourself out too quickly while avoiding fouls and running faster overall.
Since the positioning of your arms is directly proportional to your speed, here are some clever techniques to help you run faster in the game of soccer.
Always Bend Your Arms to a 90-Degree-Like Angle
One of the main arm techniques to keep in mind when running in soccer is never to extend your arms fully.
Extending your arms fully while running in soccer will get you penalized so many times that you’ll think you’re running wrong.
When running, your hands should always go past your hip. If they’re much lower or higher, you’re probably overextending your arm, which may be problematic when you’re in an actual match.
Use Your Arms Actively When Playing
As hinted earlier in this article, running in soccer isn’t the same as most other sports.
In soccer, you’re most likely running in pursuit of the ball with another player by your side. So if you’re slightly outrunning the other player, it doesn’t hurt to give them a slight push, putting you ahead.
As long as you keep your arms low and you’re not making active contact with the other player’s stomach or chest, you should always be able to avoid a penalty. However, it’s also crucial to note that pulling a player will always be a foul, regardless of the circumstances.
If you can combine these techniques in your regular training, you will soon see a difference in your speed on the field.
Don’t forget to check out my 30-Day Soccer Fitness Program.
For more drills that you would find helpful to improve, check out my list of top 10 Soccer Coaching Drills: Perfect for Practice Sessions or 10 Soccer Ball Control and Footwork Drills (For All Ages).