" Speed or insight " a question pondered by the great Johan Cruyff himself, what makes a player quick?and how important is all out speed in the modern day game off soccer. A lot of coaches these days put an over emphasis on speed and spend to much time sprint training during practices.
A players sprinting speed is largely determined by how many fast twitch muscles they are born with.
It would take hours of specific speed training to even become a tenth of a second faster, all the while
this is time a young player could be learning how to better position themselves or recognizing the
right moment to act.
A better approach
Soccer is not about absolute speed it is about relative speed, there are 4 key moments when sprinting
that a coach should be looking at.
1 - Position
This is the position on the field the player takes up , more intelligent players will take up more effective positions.
2 - Moment
The moment or when to sprint is also key.
3 - Direction
The direction of the sprint is extremely important, it can also be used to block opponents
4 - Speed
Lastly the speed of the sprint is often the least important, If a player completes the 1st three actions
Many coaches who cannot read the game of soccer accuse players of being slow, there solution put 2 cones down and ask them to sprint between them. These coaches do not recognize that the player needs to be coached on the positioning / moment / direction of their sprints, by simply choosing a better position you can gain half a second on a opponent.
The key is coaching decision making in young players ' What position do I choose, at what moment do I run and in what direction do I run? In elite level players all this decision making is present so Sprint training may give them the extra percentage but those are top level players that have already perfected the other aspects.
In conclusion coaching players through the decision making process of sprinting will be more beneficial in helping develop game intelligence and yield better results in the short term , all of these aspects are
built into Soccer T.I.P.S coaching curriculum.
" A textbook example of a slow player is Deco ( former FC Barcelona player ) If we were to put him into a 100-meter race with other athletes he would lose.... hes probably loaded with slow twitch muscle fibers instead of fast twitch. However on the pitch, he is one of the fastest players I know this because pure speed has nothing to do with football speed. Speed in football is about analysis of the situation, reaction to stimulus and the ability to identify it ".
Jose Mourinho - Manchester United Manager