Soccer is a sport filled with intricacies on and off the field. Training needs to be soccer specific improving technical and tactical skills to help better your performance. Things like ball control, position based requirements, and the ability to develop the field come from practice and technical and tactical development. However, research is now showing the importance of having a strong base in speed, agility, and strength is just as important as the technical and tactical skills the player uses within the game.
This makes sense, if you step back from the field and look at the big picture.
The basis of any team-sport is dynamic, integrated movement: Changes in direction, velocity increases, deceleration, explosive binding and lateral movement … the list goes on. It would make sense then, that to develop a player's ability to execute these movements faster with more precision, one would want to condition the machine, also known as the human body, powering the movements.
This is why a strength and conditioning program must be developed around the testing and analysis that is done first.
The basis for program design needs to be built around what the specific athlete, unit or team needs to develop as far as performance output. The Speed Analysis and Performance Testing needs to gauge the athletes' acceleration, maximum or top speed, and agility.
Knowledge of the physiological and biomechanical factors that determine performance in each of the 3 speed tests will allow specific training programs to be designed to address player weaknesses, improve speed capability of players in relation to their position on the field of play, and extremely, improve match performance.
A study performed at Manchester Metropolitan University ran athletes through three tests testing their acceleration, top speed and agility (Little & Williams, 2005). They then divided the athletes and put them through separate training programs. One group specifically focused on speed while the other group specifically focused on agility. When they retested the athletes, it was found that just speed training had minimal to little effect on agility and vice versa. The reasoning being is different types of training focus on conditioning different leg muscles, building different body mass, and specific muscle fiber types (Little & Williams, 2005). The conclusion of this study was in order for a soccer player to become a more all around athlete on the field, they need to train Type I, Type IIA and Type IIB muscle fibers.
There has been a lot of reserve and controversial surrounding strength and conditioning training for younger athletes. However a study performed by the National Strength and Conditioning Association has proved the opposite with a “… PROPERLY designed and supervised resistance training program (Faigenbaum Kraemer, Blimkie, Jeffries, Micheli, Nitka, & Rowland, 2009).” Having the right strength and conditioning program in place, helps enhance the athlete's performance on the field. It allows the correct body mass, leg strength and muscle fiber tissue to be conditioned and built specifically to each athlete's strength and weaknesses. Proper and supervised strength and resistance programs are also shown to “… increase young athlete's resistance to sports related injuries (Faigenbaum, et al., 2009).”
By testing and performing video analysis on the athletes, it allows strength coaches to design specific programs for the benefit of on-the field skills. This training, in combination with technical and tactical training that the athletes receive during practices will help to make a stronger, faster, more accurate soccer player.
Faigenbaum, A., Kraemer, W., Blimkie, C., Jeffries, I., Micheli, L., Nitka, M., & Rowland, T. (2009). Specific of acceleration, maximum speed, and agility in professional soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23 (5), 60-79. Retrieved 2015, from http://www.fcboulder.com
Little, T., & Williams, A. (2005). Specific of acceleration, maximum speed, and agility in professional soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19 (1), 76-78. Retrieved 2015, from http://www.e-space.mmu.ac.uk