Sports Science: Why speed is the most important fitness component in football

So let’s look at why speed training is probably the most vital fitness component of a footballer.  I admit that this article might be of less interest than others during the finals period, but you can use this information to gain an insight as to why some of the great players in the top four are so effective.

What I will do is list the benefits of being fast, or having fast muscle qualities, and elaborate on what specific advantage that has to football skill performance.

So starting with the obvious ones, a faster player will be:

  • Able to get to the ball quicker than their opponent (given the same starting point), which equals more possessions.
  • Able to make more tackles.
  • Able to create a greater gap between them and their opponent or run away from them, which enables more time to make the correct decision, under less pressure.
  • Less pressure enables a greater effective disposal rate and more time to focus on the accuracy of the skills.
  • Able to maintain the same speed as other players but with less energy due to it only being 80-90%% of their max speed compared to 100% of slower players.
  • Able to run out the game longer (given the same speed as other players) or run faster for the same amount of time.

Pretty basic stuff, I know, but now let me explain some other benefits of fast players you may have noticed.

  • They kick long for their size.
  • They kick straighter.
  • Have overall more accurate skills than other players.
  • Are stronger or able to get stronger than other players and put on muscle faster (if they ever bothered)

Some examples of these fast players are: Fevola, Judd, Ablett, Chapman, Cooney, the Davey brothers etc. They all have great speed and great skills to match.

The reason for this all-round effectiveness is simply muscle co-ordination. What speed training does is streamline muscle co-ordination, which makes every move more efficient, faster, smoother, more accurate, and it uses less energy to execute.

Now you might suggest it is genetics that gives the players their co-ordination and therefore higher performance and you would be partially correct. However sprint training at 100% is the only activity that can maximise these genetic gifts and, in time, take them to another level. I have invented a training method that can actually change these genetic qualities, but more on that another time.

What would happen if Judd and Ablett were a step quicker? If Fevola was a metre faster over the first 20 metres? Imagine the space generated between opponents if they could achieve that? They would dominate even more than the already do.

The focus of footballers these days should be maximum speed and speed endurance. The game is made up of repeated 100% efforts, not the constant slow running we’ve seen in the past. The interchange bench has made the game faster so speed is by far the most important part of a teams’ mobility.

And, hey, the spin-off of speed training is that it makes people kick farther, be more accurate and have more energy for the fourth quarter … Fonzie would only have one thing to say about that…

I invented a training method that enhances elite athlete coordination. It took me 8 years but if you’re interested in learning more about why some athletes are better or you want to read a copy of my Innovation Patent, here is the link…

Just click on the tab AU-A, B, C Patent Specifications Site.

In my next article I’ll talk about sustained sub-maximal running, like 10 kilometres or so, and why it’s outdated in football today.

[email protected]

About Clint Youlden

Clint Youlden is a High Performance Sports Scientist that specializes in the biomechanics/coaching and training of speed and is also the inventor (and patent holder) of a training method that simultaneously increases all aspects of athletic performance. He deals with skill acquisition, training, nutrition, supplementation, and recovery of athletes. You can contact him on 0402 498 798 or at [email protected]

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