Soccer players do considerable training to increase running speed, one of the most important qualities for playing well. Close examination of the movements of high-level soccer players during game play, however, reveals that the number of runs over 20 or 30 yards is relatively small. Most often players' use a quick burst of speed, i.e., they accelerate to be the first one to get to the ball or to evade an opponent. This burst of speed is usually exhibited for no more than 5-15 yards and is one of the main characteristics of a quick and explosive player on both offense and defense. Continue Reading...
Try Dr. Yessis explains his unique Knee Drive exercise, which features the revolutionary Active Cords™ to perfect running technique, explosiveness, and strength in our Explosive Soccer training DVD.
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One of my biggest regrets in my young career is not reaching out to [Doctor Yessis] for assistance earlier. His knowledge of the biomechanics of movement are second to none. He has opened our staff's eyes to a different form of training, specialized exercise. The simplistic nature of the movements does not limit the amazing carryover to performance.
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Quickness is the key to getting away from your defender to be free to receive a pass, execute a kick on goal or simply pass the ball to another player without any obstructions. If you are on defense, being able to accelerate is the key to keeping up with your opponent especially if they have the ability to accelerate quickly, or to get to an opponent who has the ball and is free for a shot on goal or to set up a dangerous situation with a good pass.
Acceleration is not as easy to improve as is running speed. But, it can still be improved mainly by decreasing reaction and movement time (how long it takes the muscles to react after you decide to go into action). To improve your movement time, you must do special strength and explosive exercises that are specific to the joint actions involved (which are basically the same as in sprinting). These special exercises develop strength exactly the way it is exhibited in a quick acceleration. In other words, they duplicate the motor pathways that are involved, have the same range of motion over which strength is exhibited, and use the same type of muscular contraction.
Very important in improving acceleration is improving your technique of starting. This means not taking a step backward before going forward and getting your weight forward. To create the forces needed to explode in a forward direction, you must pre-tense the muscles that are involved by letting the heel of the push-off foot go backwards as your upper body is moving forward. At the same time, there may be slightly more knee bend and lowering of the body before you push-off and step out.
Very important in taking the first step, is to get your weight forward before you push-off. This forces you to bring the swing leg up faster and to place it on the ground so that you do not lose balance. For the greatest distance on the first step, it is important that you push-off with the forward leg and bring the rear leg up and step out in a shortened but still fairly lengthy first step. Keep in mind, the more ground you can cover in one step with all other factors being equal, the faster you will be.
To improve the ability to accelerate, it is necessary to have explosive strength not merely strength or speed. This means that you must be able to explosively move the arms and legs through the ranges of motion needed for the first 5-10 steps. By doing specialized strength and explosive exercises that duplicate the joint and muscle actions involved, you can improve the key joint actions involved in acceleration which will then enable you to move the limbs quicker and thus, improve your acceleration.
Some of the key exercises that can be done, include: the explosive knee drive, pawback, explosive calf raise, and developing the ability to not only react faster from a ready position, but to go into motion faster.