By Ranell Hobson CSCS

Sprinting skills of soccer players is becoming of vital importance as the game and the players are becoming faster (Haugen et al, 2014; Wallace & Norton, 2014) and the amount of sprinting required within a game is ever increasing (Andrzejewski, et al. 2013; Di Salvo et al, 2010). Straight line acceleration and sprinting speed seems to be more important than speed in change of direction tasks. Bloomfield et al (2008) demonstrated that changes of direction within sprinting velocities rarely occur; rather players are more likely to be jogging or shuffling preceding braking and change of direction movements.

Sprinting in soccer is performed in varying contexts over varying distances and with varying starting situations (Bradley et al, 2009; Di Salvo et al, 2010; Andrzejewski, et al, 2013; Andrzejewski, et al, 2015). This directed study gave evidence to the importance of the attainment of speed in soccer, without the observable interest in perfect mechanics within that attainment. This may be due to a generalised but widely held belief that running mechanics whether on a track or on a field should not be too dissimilar (Petrone et al, 2006; Jeffreys, 2013). It can be demonstrated however that the mechanics of running within these two contexts requires different training, most significantly in the first few acceleratory steps.

It may be that the starting position of a sprint in soccer more closely reflects the position of the track sprinter at the 15m mark. At this point velocity is higher, the athlete is more upright and ground contact time is shorter (0.07 – 0.09s) (Bosch & Klomp, 2005; Lockie et al, 2013). It is important for coaches to concentrate on improving ground force efficiency through good technique with short ground contact times (Lockie et al, 2011). This can best be achieved by implementing exercises to develop the strength of the athlete and the application of that strength into the ground.

Strength – Positive sprint performance in professional soccer players is highly correlated with maximal strength (Baker, 2014; Turner & Stewart, 2014). It is therefore recommended that coaches devote time to developing player’s maximum strength; starting strength and power utilising evidence based protocols. The implication for coaching practice may therefore be in the selection of time efficient exercises and drills that are most specific to the positions of players within the game of soccer, and that provide the largest transfer into on-field success (Halil, 2008). In 2013, Morin demonstrated that a world class sprinter produces larger horizontal ground reaction forces when in high speed running and when the body is mainly vertical. They do this through the utilisation of very strong gluteal and hamstring muscles (hip extensors). Soccer players on the other hand tend to have overly developed knee extensor and hip flexor musculature (Morin, 2013). From a coaches perspective a much more balanced approach needs to be applied to the development of maximal strength between the anterior and posterior chains of soccer players.

Training a combination of heavy resistance training and power training within the general preparatory and specific preparatory phases will give players the competitive edge. Implementing resistance training exercises that not only replicate the triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles during acceleration (variations of squats, lunges and deadlifts), but also exercises such as Romanian deadlifts, Glute-Ham raises and Hip thrusts to develop hip extensor capabilities are crucial to success. To develop maximal strength, using a load of greater than 80% of the players one repetition maximum for 6 or less repetitions, is recommended (Baker, 2014; Turner & Stewart, 2014).

Elastic Qualities – In order to transfer musculoskeletal strength to on-field speed performance, it is imperative that the soccer coach includes drills which increase the elastic properties of the players (Hansen, 2014). Elastic capacities of athletes are normally trained through a series of training modalities including: Plyometrics, Olympic style lifting and Medicine ball work. Evidence exists which demonstrates that increasing the athletes utilisation of the stretch shortening cycle can decrease an athletes ground contact time during both sprinting and whilst running at a sub-maximal level (Arampatzis et al, 2001). When making decisions regarding elastic strength protocols, coaches should consider the technical proficiency of players in selected exercises. Allowing only proficient lifters to utilise Olympic lifts such as cleans, pulls and jerks, will decrease the risk of injury to players and maximise results from any investment in training time (Baker, 2014). Medicine ball work which includes explosive jumps upon release of the ball, are an effective and easy way to implement explosive training into a field based training session (Hansen, 2014). When programming, six repetitions for five sets is effective for any elastic or power based exercise.

Flexibility and Mobility – Track sprinters come out of starting blocks at a low 45-50 degree angle as this is most advantageous in generating thrust (Schmolinsky, 2000; Bradshaw et al, 2006). To replicate this, soccer players lean forward in their first few acceleratory steps however this lean usually commences at the hip, rather than starting at the foot as compared to the track athlete. Full extension of the hip, knee and ankle behind the centre of mass is required for maximum force application of the accelerating athlete. Acceleration requires strength, power, coordination and elasticity (Hansen, 2014). Assessing soccer players mechanics during acceleration demonstrates that they rarely achieve full hip extension (Williams, 2015; Guyett, 2015). Reasons for this are numerous and include: tight hip flexors; inefficient pelvic girdle mobility and poor tissue integrity. Improvements in hip mobility via proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, have demonstrated increased responses from the stretch shortening cycle (Hindle et al, 2012). Important considerations for soccer coaches therefore include methods to enhance hip flexor and quadriceps flexibility as well as pelvic girdle mobility (Pinske, et al, 2012; Caplan et al, 2009). This can be achieved through the inclusion of dynamic range of motion exercises as well as both static and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching. These three will promote flexibility and positively impact running mechanics (Bosch & Klomp, 2005; Caplan et al, 2009; Schleip & Muller, 2012; Carte & Greenwood, 2015). Once this is achieved, programming drills that involve falling starts and rolling starts (Jeffreys, 2013; Hansen, 2014) that are characterised by a straight line forward lean, will enhance a soccer players acceleratory performance.

Posture – Posture and stability of the player is important in optimising force transfer to the ground and eliminating energy leaks (Petrone, et al, 2006; Jeffreys, 2013; Turner & Stewart; 2014). A focus on posture and stability of the player through the coaching of wall marches and switches (Patel, 2010; Hansen, 2014), will enable soccer players to maintain a straight line from head to heel in the end push phase (toe off position) of acceleratory steps. This in turn would increase the amount of force applied to the ground to generate speed (Turner & Perry, 2014; Lockie et al, 2011).


It is well documented that speed is critical to success in the modern game of soccer (Bradley et al, 2009; Andrzejewski et al, 2013; Jeffreys, 2013; Haugen et al, 2014; Turner & Stewart, 2014). Starting strength and a rapid rate of force development are required for explosive horizontal propulsion and rapid first step velocity (Smirniotou, et al. 2008; Spinks et al, 2007; Sheppard, 2003). It is important for soccer players to be able to break away from the opposition in order to take possession of the ball. A high expertise in dribbling and ball control is of no use to the player if they are always outrun and are limited in possession. Therefore it is recommended that coaches carefully plan periodised training programs for soccer players that include: strength training, power training, flexibility and mobility strategies as well as posture and stability work. This will ensure that corrective mechanics coaching in acceleration and sprinting will permit the maximum athletic potential of the player to be achieved.

About the Author

Ranell Hobson:  MS (Sp. Coach); BA (Sp. Sci & Coach.); Grad Dip (Edu -VET); CSCS (NSCA); ASCA L2 and ATFCA L3  

is the Head Coach at the Academy of Sport Speed Australia. Ranells specialty is Sport speed and Sprint mechanics, maximising athletic movement to decrease injury and improve overall player performance. Ranell works with youth to open age athletes and clubs across multiple sports and is an international presenter of Speed coaching workshops and Athlete Speed clinics.

Further Readings & References

Andrzejewski, M., Chmura, J., Pluta, B. & Jan, M. (2015) Sprinting Activities and Distances Covered by Top Level Europa League Soccer Players. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching. 10(1). DOI: 10.1260/1747-9541.10.1.39.

Andrzejewski, M., Chmura, J., Pluta, B., Strzelczyk, R, and Kasprzak, A. (2013) Analysis of sprinting activities of professional soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Aug; 27(8):2134-40

Arampatzis, A., Schade, F., Walsh, M. & Bruggemann, G.P. (2001). Influence of leg stiffness and its effect on myodynamic jumping performance. Journal of Electromyographic Kinesiology 11: 355–364.

Baker, D (2014) Using Strength Platforms for Explosive Performance. In D.Joyce & D,Lewindon (Eds.), High-Performance Training for Sports. Pp 127-144. Human Kinetics, USA.

Bloomfield, J., Polman, R. & O’Donoghue, P. (2008) Deceleration and turning movements performed during FA Premier League soccer matches. 174-181. In: Reilly T, Korkusuz,F. (eds). Science and Football VI: The proceedings of the Sixth World Congress on Science and Football. London UK: Taylor & Francis

Bosch, F & Klomp, R. (2005) Running: Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology in Practice. Philadelphia, USA: Elsevier.

Bradley, P.S., Di Mascio, M., Peart, D., O;sen, P. & Sheldon, B. (2010) High Intensity activity profiles of elite soccer players at different performance levels. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 24 (9): 2343-51. NSCA.

Bradley, P.S., Sheldon, W., Wooster, B., Boanas, P. & Krustrup, P. (2009) High-intensity running in English FA Premier League soccer matches. Journal of Sports Science. 27(2): 159-168. DOI: 10.1080/02640410802512775.

Bradshaw, E., Maulder, P. & Keogh, J. (2006) Biological movement variability during the sprint start. 24th International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sports. Book Analytic. Pp:785-789. Salzburg Austria, Salzburg University.

Brown, T.D. & Vescovi, J.D. (2012). Maximum Speed: Misconceptions of Sprinting. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 34(2):37-41. NSCA

Buchheit, M., Samozino, P., Glynn, J.A., Michael, B.S., Haddad, H.A., Vilanueva, A, M & Morin, J. B (2014) Mechanical determinants of acceleration and maximal sprinting speed in highly trained young soccer players Journal of Sports Sciences 32(20)

Carter, J. & Greenwood, M. (2015) Does Flexibility Exercise Affect Running Economy? Strength and Conditioning Journal. 37(3) 12-20. NSCA.

Caplan, N., Rogers, R., Parr, M.K. & Hayes, P.R. (2009) The Effect of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation and Static Stretch Training on Running Mechanics. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 23(4):1175-1180. NSCA

Chelly, M.S., Ghenem, M.A., Abid, K; Hermassi, S., Tabka, Z. & Shephard, R.J. (2010) Effects of in-Season Short Term Plyometric Training Program on Leg Power, Jump and Sprint Performance of Soccer Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24(10) 2670-2676. NSCA

Dintiman, G.B. & Ward, B. (2011) Encyclopedia of Sports Speed: Improving Playing Speed for Sports Competition. Human Kinetics, USA.

Di Salvo, V., Baron, R., Gonzalez-Haro, C., Gormasz, C., Pigozzi, F. & Bachl, N. (2010) Sprinting analysis of elite soccer players during European Champions League and UEFA Cup matches. Journal of Sports Science. 28(14). DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2010.521166.

Di Salvo, V., Baron, R., Tschan, H., Calderon-Montero, F., Bachl N., Pigozzi F. (2007) Performance characteristics according to playing position in elite soccer. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 28:222-227 DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-924294.

Fletcher, I. (2009) Biomechanical aspects of sprint running. UKSCA Strength & Conditioning Journal 16 (Winter), 20-23

Faude, O., Koch, T. & Meyer, T. (2012) Straight sprinting is the most frequent action in goal situations in professional soccer. Journal of Sports Science. 30(7): 625-631. DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2012.665940

Halil, T. (2008) Evaluating Sprinting Ability, Density of Acceleration and Speed Dribbling Ability of Professional Soccer players with respect to their Positions. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 22(5): 1481-1486

Hansen, D. (2014) Successfully Translating Strength into Speed. In D.Joyce & D,Lewindon (Eds.), High-Performance Training for Sports. Pp 145-166. Human Kinetics, USA.

Haugen, T,A., Tonnessen, E., Hisdal, J. and Seiler, S. (2014) The Role and Development of Sprinting Speed in Soccer. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 9:432-441. DOI: 10:1123/ijspp.2013-0121

Hindle, K.B., Whitcomb, T.J., Briggs, W.O. & Hong, J. (2012) Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF): Its Mechanisms and Effects on Range of Motion and Muscular Function. Journal of Human Kinetics. 31:105-113. DOI: 10.2478/v10078-012-0011-y

Hunter, J.P., Marshall, R.N. & McNair, P.J, (2005) Relationships between ground reaction force impulse and kinematics of sprint running acceleration. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 21(1), 31-43

Jeffreys, I (Ed.). (2013) Developing Speed. NSCA. Human Kinetics, USA.

Jovanovic, M., Sporis, G., Omrcen, D. & Florentini, F. (2011) Effects of speed, agility & quickness training method on power performance in elite soccer players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 25(5): 1285-1292

Kaplan, T., Erkmen, N  Taskin, H. (2009) The Evaluation of the Running Speed and Agility Performance in Professional and Amateur Soccer Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 23(3): 774-778. NSCA

Kotzamanidis, C., Chatzopoulos, D., Michaildis, C., Papaiakovou, G. & Patikas, D. (2005) The effect of a high intensity strength and speed training program on the running and jumping ability of soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 19(2):

Kugler, F & Janshen,L. (2010) Body position determines propulsive forces in accelerated running.  Journal of Biomechanics 43(2), 343-8

Little, T & Williams, A.G. (2005) Specificity of Acceleration, Maximum Speed and Agility in Professional Soccer Players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 19(1): 76-78. NSCA

Lockie, R.G., Murphy, A.J., Knight, T.J., Janse, D.J. & Xanne, A.K. (2011). Factors that Differentiate Acceleration Ability in Field Sport Athletes. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 25(10), 2704-2714

Lockie, R.G., Murphy, A.J., Schultz, A.B., Knight, T.J. & Janse de Jonge, X.A.K. (2012) The Effects of Different Speed Training Protocols on Sprint Acceleration Kinematics and Muscle Strength and Power in Field Sport Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(6):1539-1550. NSCA

Lockie, R.G., Murphy, A.J., Schultz, A.B., Jeffries, M.D. & Callaghan, S.J. (2013) Influence of Sprint Acceleration Stance Kinetics on Velocity and Step Kinematics in Field Sport Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 27(9):2494-2503. NSCA

Morin, J.B. (2013) Sprint Running Mechanics: New technology, new concepts, new perspectives. ASPETAR Sports Medicine Journal. 3, 326-332.

Patel, B (2010) Greased lightening. The Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group.

Petrone, N, Marcolin, G. & Tolin, A. (2006) Evaluation of sprint biomechanics by means of an instrumented training sledge in soccer. 24th International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sports. Book Analytic. Pp:607-610. Salzburg Austria, Salzburg University

Pinske, K., Greener, T. & Peterson, A. (2012) College Coaches Corner – Speed Training . Strength & Conditioning Journal NSCA 35(5), 96-98

Schleip, R. & Muller, D.G. (2012) Training principles for fascial connective tissues: Scientific foundation and suggested practical applications. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 1-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.06.007

Schmolinsky, G (2000). Track and Field: The East German Textbook of Athletics. Toronto – Sports books.

Sheppard, J. (2003) Strength and Conditioning Exercise Selection in Speed Development. Strength and Conditioning Journal 25(4): 26-33. NSCA.

Smirniotou, A., Katsikas, C., Paradisis, G., Argeitaki, P., Zacharogiannis, E. & Tziortzis, S. (2008) Strength-power parameters as predictors of sprinting performance. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 48(4) 447-454.

Spinks, C.D., Murphy, A.J., Spinks, W.L. & Lockie, R.G. (2007) The Effects of Resisted Sprint Training on Acceleration Performance and Kinematics in Soccer, Rugby Union, and Australian Football Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 21(1): 77-85. NSCA

Taskin, H. (2008) Evaluating sprinting ability, density of acceleration and speed dribbling ability of professional soccer players with respect to their positions. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 22(5): 1481-1586 NSCA

Thadani, S. (2014) Football Training: the demands of the game and the attributes required for specific football positions. Sports Performance Bulletin. Retrieved from:

Tonnessen, E., Shalfawi, S.A., Haugen, T. & Enoksen, E. (2011). The effect of 40m repeated Sprint Training on Maximum Sprinting Speed, Repeated Sprint Speed Endurance, Vertical Jump and Aerobic Capacity in Young Elite Male Soccer Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25(9): 2364-2370. NSCA.

Turner, A.N & Stewart, P.F. (2014) Strength and Conditioning for Soccer Players. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 36(4): 1-13. NSCA

Varley, M.C. & Aughey, R.J. (2013) Acceleration profiles in elite Australian Soccer. International Journal of Sports Medicine 34(1):34-39.

Wallace, J.L. & Norton, K.I. (2014) Evolution of World Cup soccer final games 1966-2010: Game structure, speed and play patterns. Journal of Science & Medicine in Sport. 19(2): 223-228. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2013.03.016


  1. SEO Reseller Program on January 29, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    Awesome post! Keep up the great work! 🙂

  2. AffiliateLabz on February 16, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

  3. Branden Alberty on March 10, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    Awesome write-up. I’m a normal visitor of your website and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a frequent visitor for a really long time.

  4. Madalynn on May 21, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    Appreciate the recommendation. Let me try it out.

  5. Hannah on May 22, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was entirely right.
    This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent
    for this information! Thanks!

  6. Matthew on May 24, 2020 at 12:47 am

    It’s awesome to pay a visit this web page and reading the
    views of all friends concerning this paragraph, while I am also eager of getting experience.

  7. Keto Advanced Fat Burner Gnc on May 29, 2020 at 3:15 am

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing
    all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say excellent blog!

  8. WillyGLoeser on June 10, 2020 at 3:00 am

    You could certainly watch your skills within the work you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are certainly not afraid to bring up the way they believe. All the time follow your heart.

  9. g on June 16, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    This web site certainly has all the information and facts I
    wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  10. EvelinITrejo on June 21, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Spot up with this write-up, I really think this internet site needs a lot more attention. I’ll most likely be returning to read through through more, i appreciate you the info!

    Here is my site :: EvelinITrejo

  11. Morton Risler on July 8, 2020 at 2:38 am

    I think this is a real great blog article.Thanks Again. Cool.

  12. AmyMeell on August 12, 2020 at 7:05 pm

  13. KiaMeell on August 12, 2020 at 10:36 pm

  14. pdf wordpress on August 14, 2020 at 3:19 am

    National University College Ranking Suny Colleges President

    Check out my blog: pdf wordpress

  15. KiaMeell on November 12, 2020 at 12:57 am