Improve running speed with these five tips on how to run faster on the soccer pitch. But first, you should know that the ideal athletic soccer player regardless the age or gender for most coaches is strong, powerful and fast. Weak, tired and slow is unacceptable! Many coaches want their soccer players to improve running speed so that their team can run faster than their opponents. Coaches want players to be first to the ball, first in the air and first to score.
Recognizing that coaches are looking for strong, powerful and fast players is the first step. The next step is for you to improve running speed. You CAN and you will if you follow these key tips on how to run faster.
1. Increase glutei (“butt”) and quad strength. Research in 2000 (Weyand, Journal of Applied Physiology 2000) proved that greater force applied to the ground resulted in increased top speed. In other words the more pressure your legs put into the ground the faster you run.
As the glutei (“butt”) and quad muscles are responsible for driving the leg into the ground it is important to include squats and dead-lifts into your soccer strength training program. Sprinters are a great example of powerful glutei and quads.
2. The hamstring muscles must have the ability to lengthen. This is important because if you have a “tight” hamstring, your movement of the leg may be restricted after the foot pushes off the ground and swings forward. If a soccer player has tight hamstring muscles they may end up with a tear at top speed.
Consistent stretching and dynamic warm up of the hamstring muscle is crucial to maintaining flexibility. This must be done on a regular basis to avoid injury.
3. The hip flexor muscle must be both flexible and strong. Hip flexor muscles are in a shortened position on a day to day basis. Most young soccer players in elementary, junior high and high school sit at a desk through out the day. This puts the hip flexors in a shortened position. Over a period of time these muscles become “tight” and weak.
Thus it is important on a regular basis to lengthen the hip flexors and to strengthen them as well. To stretch out the hip flexors put one knee on the ground with knee bent at 90 degrees, hip in neutral and the other knee up at hip height ( hip bent up at 90 degrees.) This is known as the “fencer’s” position. Now lean forward until you feel a stretch in the hip area of the leg with the knee down.
Next you need to increase hip flexor strength. Stand with arms by your side. Then raise one knee to hip height. From there raise the knee to the chest and lower to hip height.
These two exercises will help improve hip flexor strength and flexibility.
4. Soccer players need to have “core” strength. Core strength prevents or minimizes movement of the hip bones. Too much movement at the hip leads to both hamstring and quadriceps pulls and worse case scenario an anterior cruciate ligament tear in the knee joint.
The simplest exercise to help with core strength is a plank. To perform a plank you need to be face down on your forearms and tips of your toes. Once in this position imagine the “belly button” moving to your back and squeeze the glutei (buttocks) muscles.
5. It is important to have some type of a single leg squat included in your exercises to improve running speed. You must remember that running is done a single leg and as you know in soccer there are starts, stops and change of direction. A single leg squat builds strength, power and balance. It is also an excellent exercise for anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention.
In summary if you address these five things you will improve running speed. You will shock and amaze your team mates and opponents unless you share these key tips on how to run faster with them.
Enjoy the process and have fun on the soccer pitch. Check out Elite Soccer Power