The Canadian University Soccer season is here, and this year marks my 3rd season as Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks Women’s Varsity Soccer Team. This season, I will be blogging every day with a ‘Tip of the Day’ – a small piece of information about the testing, training, monitoring, or performance analysis I am doing with the team.
Today’s Tip of the Day is about speed training. In the last 1-2 days of training prior to a match (which is typically on the weekend), the amount and type of running players do in training can have an important impact on their match performance. In general, the physical work done in the last 2 days of training should be more anaerobic, focusing on short and intense runs and sprints, with a lot of recovery in between repetitions. The rationale for doing speed training in the days leading up to a match is that it is less tiring to the muscles, and so will not exhaust players’ energy stores prior to competition.
One of the challenges with designing and implementing speed training sessions is that, in order for the running to have an effect, the players must be running/sprinting as fast as they possibly can. I have found that it can be difficult to motivate players to constantly run at their maximum speed in training. One tactic I have used in my sessions that has worked with great effect is to set up exercises where players are competing against one another. Have one group of players take pinnies and tuck them into the back of their short, making a “tail”. The other group will not have a “tail”, but rather will be “chasers”. In the speed exercises, both players will perform a 10-30 metre sprint, but the chaser will start a few metres behind the tail, and must catch up and pull out the tail before the run is finished. Use s specific number of push-ups as “punishment” for the loser of the exercise (either the “chaser” who did not catch the “tail”, or the “tail” who got their tail pulled). The combination of forced competition, plus the “fear” of doing push-ups as punishment, is a great way to ensure players work to their maximum capacity in every repetition.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.