There is no argument that speed is key to a soccer player’s success. When training to develop speed, there are three important phases to focus on:
Phase 1 - Acceleration
Phase 2 - Transition
Phase 3 - Absolute Speed
The Acceleration Phase is the first 15 meters of any sprint. It is important during this phase to hold a forward posture, keeping your head and shoulders in front of your feet. To gain speed, move your legs in a piston-like motion directly into the ground. During this phase your arms drive your legs; the faster you pump your arms the faster your legs will go.
The goal of the Acceleration Phase is to sustain a balanced posture while optimizing the direction and magnitude of force. The proper body lean leads to maximal velocity in a fast and efficient manner. This phase is key for beating your opponent to the ball in small spaces on the field.
The Transition Phase happens from 15-30 meters. The primary focus should be on driving your hips up and into a tall position to move towards top speed. During this phase, your feet should be stepping down over your shins and your heels should quickly rotate from under your hips back down to the ground.
The goal of the Transition Phase is to progressively move into an upright position while sustaining the velocity that was developed during the Acceleration Phase of the run. This phase is vital when building attacks from midfield.
The Absolute Speed Phase happens from 30-400+ meters. In this phase your hips and head should be in an upright position. While running, step over your knee, continue to snap your heel under your hip, and cycle your legs down through the ground as if you are striking a match.
The goal of the Absolute Speed Phase is to improve running economy at top-end speeds. On the field, this phase can be the difference between a counter-attack ending in a goal or the defender clearing the ball with ease.
Mastering these three phases and training for each of them individually is the key to becoming faster on the soccer field and outrunning your opponent during key stretches of the game.