We all have such limited time to impact the technical, tactical and physical abilities of our players that finding ways to integrate each of these into our training sessions is very important. If we were training four or five times a week we could afford to practice them in isolation but most of the coaches reading this won’t have that luxury. Continue reading ‘Speed Training Exercises’ »
Posts tagged ‘speed’
Today’s post is from Scott Moody, our Soccer Conditioning Expert at the Soccer FIT Academy. This blog post got my attention because I’ve had many conversations with parents and other coaches on this subject.
There are an ever-increasing number of, ‘Speed and Agility’ trainers, camps and businesses. But all to often they are not soccer specific. To their credit, the players that they work with do get faster but it usually doesn’t help them much (or as much as it could) with their ability to play soccer. Some track coaches have even tried to convince my players that running track would be good for their soccer speed/fitness/conditioning.
The point I’ve always tried to make is that not all fitness is the same. We need to train specifically to meet the demands of the sport or activity we’re training for. Soccer players should not be interested in cutting their 40 yard dash time any more than a sprinter should be interested in improving their ability to change direction.
This article discusses testing and what tests we should be looking at for our soccer players. It also deals with making sure that the improvements we’re striving for relate to the demands the players will face in the game. Without this connection the players are training to be good at the test and not to improve their soccer performance.
The most important question to ask when creating a testing package is, “What do I want to know?” Too often we sit down and try to come up with tests for speed, agility, strength, power, skill and fitness, and although this is ultimately what we want to know, we go about the process all wrong. Here’s what I mean…
A coach wants his players to train in the off-season to get in top shape for the upcoming season. He consults with a fitness coach and mentions that he needs his players to be stronger, faster and fitter (sound familiar?). The fitness coach looks through his list of lists of tests and comes up with the following tests for the off-season.
- 40 yd dash (test of speed)
- 20 yd shuttle (test of agility)
- 2 mile run (Cooper Test – aerobic endurance) or the Beep Test (aerobic endurance)
And while all of these tests are good in their own right (telling the fitness coach about his program) they are not sport specific at all to the sport and the development of the player, and this is where the disconnect begins…
Training sessions start and the fitness coach performs the pre-tests (which, by the way usually waste a day of training as the players stand in line waiting to test). After the pre-tests are performed the fitness coach spends the next 6-8 weeks preparing the players to perform better in these tests by working on form running drills, teaching foot work and placement of the agility drills, showing players how to improve their 40 time by having a faster start, vertical plyometrics for increased vertical jump, etc. a few months later the fitness coach performs the post test (which by now the players are fully prepared for – since they have been working on the technical skills required to perform well in the tests for weeks).
The test is completed and results are given back to the soccer coach. All players improve (as usual), but once they begin practice, the coach quickly realizes that his players are not in “soccer shape” and although speed may have improved in the testing, they are not necessarily better players.
Instead of asking, “What tests are out there?” we should have been asking, “What do the players need and how do we enhance their ability to perform better on the field?” Over the past few years we have performed a number of tests on several thousand players, and what we were looking for was simple…A way to develop GAME SPEED.
What tests can we perform in a simple session, so as not to take away from training, that will accurately tell us who is the fastest, fittest, most skilled player on the field. And how can we set this up to monitor their development over time (during the season, and from year to year).
What we came up with has now become our Game Speed Test for Soccer. I understand that the 40 yd dash is the “standard” in American Football, and I understand the importance of having comparative data, to gage the player’s speed. But if we are going to set up a test that has nothing to do with the game we play, and we are going to gage a players improvement on how he performs in this test, we are not training for soccer, we are training for track and field (athletics) where the sport IS the test.
The way I see it there are 3 main categories that we can train for to improve our play:
Each of these categories needs to be specific to the sport we play (in this case soccer). So we looked at the research and noticed that most of the high-speed runs in soccer are 25 yds or less, and most of these runs are made with a change of direction. We set up our cones at 25 yds and had the players run down and back (50 yds total distance – 25 yds down and back). We also wanted to compare speed with and without the ball (integrated skill), so we put 5 cones, 5 yds apart and had the players run down 10yds and back 5 yds (in a shuttle like manner) until they hit the last cone and then sprint back. We did this with and without the ball so that we could factor out a “skill-deficit”.
We realize that soccer is not a continuous aerobic sport, and there are brief periods of rest between every burst of activity. So instead of using a typical aerobic test like a 2 mile test or beep test, we came up with our Soccer Specific Interval Test which has increasing speed / agility demands at each level followed by a short (30 second) rest period. When we did a statistical analysis on this test and compared it to 20 yd dash, 20 yd shuttle, beep test and vertical jump we found that players that performed well in this test, also performed well in each of the speed/agility/power and endurance tests, while those that did well in the beep test only performed well in the beep test.
Finally we looked at skill. We realize that there is much more to being a skillful player than performing well in a few skills tests, and that the game is played primarily without the ball and requires a timing, precision and communication with teammates. But we needed to come up with some simple skills tests to see if the players had a solid foundation in dribbling, passing and moves/turns with the ball. So we performed a 5 cone (60 second) dribbling drill, a partner passing (1 touch passing at 10 yds for 60 seconds) and the agility test with a ball we mentioned earlier.
So What Tests Do We Run and How Long Does This Take?
We have over 600 coaches in over 30 countries running this test now and we have tested over 2000 players locally. The test has given us exactly what we wanted. Our best players (on the field) that play on the top teams score the best and our worst players that play on the lower teams score the worst. As players age, they typically have better scores, so we have been able to assess the training effects of players training in our system against the normal rate of development of players that don’t do any additional training.
This has given us a soccer specific test, which we can perform in a soccer specific training session with an entire team, without standing in lines. Here is a recap of the tests:
1. Soccer Specific Interval Test – Fitness
2. 5 Cone Dribbling Test (60 seconds) – Comfort with the Ball
3. Partner Passing Test (60 seconds) – Quick Passing
4. Moves and Turns – Speed with the Ball
5. Down 10 / Back 5 – Agility without the Ball
6. Down 25 and Back – Speed without the Ball
The 3 speed tests take approximately 2-3 minutes to test / per player if you are running 1 player at a time, but we use a Fusion Sport timing system that allows us to time 4 players a once so we can do a team of 16 in under 5 minutes. The passing and dribbling tests take about 2-3 minutes each to complete and the fitness test takes between 10 and 15 minutes to complete. So we can effectively test 2-3 teams at one time in less than 35-45 minutes (including warm up and instructions). Here is a short video of these tests with a few other tests thrown in for assessing quick feet and the timing of longer passes with looping runs.
On top of all this, the test is FREE on our website, with a FREE online data entry page that allows you to compare your scores against all the FEMALE and MALE players in our system. For the clubs and teams we consult with more closely, we also have a detailed comparison report that allows you to compare each player against their team and their age group along with a detailed report on each players improvement throughout the season.
For more information, enter your name and email address into the FREE Game Speed Testing Kit box on the side bar at the right on this page, or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
As a coach I’m always evaluating my players but mostly on a subjective level. I do some 1v1 and 2v2 statistical evaluations that I wrote about in a previous post but that’s the only objective information I’ve used to in the past.
This spring our club has implemented the SoccerFIT Game Speed Assessment for all of our teams. The test looks at three specific categories – Speed/Agility, Soccer Fitness and Technical Skill. The ideal situation is to see a balance between these unique areas but in most cases players will be stronger in one or two and weaker in the others. Here’s an example of a report that you would receive after entering your data from the tests:
There are 15 different test Continue reading ‘Testing to Evaluate Player Ability and Development’ »
Welcome to the FineSoccer Drills Newsletter. Today’s featured activity works on attacking at speed. There are many other options to try with this activity and you can find others in the book Improving Your Teams Speed of Play.
Start with a 40 x 25 field with 2 full sized goals and a keeper in each goal. There is a midfield line and 3 attackers and 2 defenders in each half.
If the yellow team starts with the ball it would be 3 v 2 going to goal. The black team defends and if either Continue reading ‘Attacking With Speed’ »
Play fast but don’t rush.
To some it might seem contradictory to say play fast but don’t rush but for me, this is one of the things that separates good players from great players.
A good player plays full speed. As soon as the ball comes to him he tries to get rid of it as quickly as possible (either by kicking it away, shooting right away or dribbling at full speed). The great player thinks quicker so has more time to make a decision and thus is more likely to make the right decision.
The good player is always thinking in the “now”. What should I do now? I just received the ball where should I pass now? Who should I mark now?
The great player is thinking 2, 3 or even 4 plays ahead so already knows the options and possibilities.
How does one learn to play fast and not rush? For some it comes naturally. For the special few they just see the game differently than the others. For the rest of us, it is something we can improve upon.
First, the better our first touch is the easier it is to play faster without rushing. When our first touch puts us into trouble everytime we will always be in the “now”. When we get to the point where we are consistently playing a good first touch it allows us to plan our next move earlier. Working on the technical side of our game will allow us to improve out tactical side as well.
Second, we have to train at the same speed (or even faster) than we play. If we train at half speed, we will constantly feel rushed when forced to play at full speed. One way to do this is to use small spaces in training to add pressure and force quicker play. Another option is to play numbers down games (teams frequently work in numbers up situations but playing numbers down will force quicker play.
Third, the more we see better players play the easier it will be to see how they handle certain situations. Seeing the “picture” of how others handle certain situations will allow you to figure out the best way for you to handle this situation as well.
Fourth, realize that what happens off the ball will dramatically effect how quickly the player on the ball plays. If they have options before the ball arrives they will be able to play first time balls or play quick combinations but if they have to hold the ball in order to wait for support that will cause them to play slower and feel rushed.
Work on playing faster without being rushed and it will help you progress as a player (and coach). Drills and exercises specifically to help your team play quicker can be found on the DVD, Play Quicker.
Have a great day!
Should we judge players based on their size? How about their speed? What about their juggling ability.
One effective way to judge players is based on their TIC
A player can be in the right spot at the right time and know what to do but without the technical ability to execute, they wont be successful. The ability to make the accurate pass, to receive the ball properly, to shoot on goal etc. is all dependent upon technical ability.
A player can have great technique but without the insight (tactical awareness) they will make bad decisions and lose the ball most of the time.
A player can have the technical ability and the insight to make the right decision but if they can’t communicate with their teammates, they will tend to be a “one man team”. Communication can be verbal or non verbal but it’s an integral part of an individuals or teams success.
Too often we judge players on physical attributes when we really should be going out of our way to try to evaluate based on their TIC.
Watching FC Barcelona play (perform) is a great way to experience a team of players with wonderful TIC.
Just something to think about.