Developing Your Speed For Football Pt 1... Nature vs Nurture & Plyometrics

Updated: May 17

Not blowing my own trumpet, however during my time playing in the A-league I was considered one of the fastest players on the field.

Speed, pace, quickness. Whatever you call it there is no substitute on a football field like being fast! When I think of players blessed with speed I think of Messi and his ball on a string kind of speed, Thierry Henry and his drag the ball past defenders and see-ya later acceleration, or Mbappe at top speed getting a toe to the ball and knocking it past defenders. These athletes are just some at the top of the pile, the best of the best. However, in modern day football having athletic pace is a prerequisite, certainly in any major professional league around the world EVERY player is an athlete, and they are only getting quicker. Over the next few weeks, I will share some tips, information and advice on building your speed as a young player.

Nature vs Nurture

First, I want to stress the natural biological factor when it comes to being fast. If you are genetically blessed with plenty of fast twitch muscle fibers, perhaps your father was a sub 11 second 100m sprinter, or you could be a Jamaican! Genetics do have a major role to play. However even those genetically gifted need to train and those that are gifted in other aspects can make HUGE improvement in speed to close the gap or become one of the quickest on the field. It is a matter of refining those fast twitch fibres, developing them whilst young, and developing the most complex muscle in the human body, our brain! Because speed of thought and reaction time on the football field gives anyone an advantage on the field whether you are naturally fast or not. The first aspect of speed training will be on developing power.


Those first few steps when chasing a loose ball can be the difference between getting it or not. For that you need to generate force of the mark, force x velocity = power. More power means both strong in force and fast in velocity. It’s often called being ‘explosive of the mark’ or in terms of a sprinter ‘explosive out of the blocks. Plyometrics involve exercises which exert maximum force to muscles in short intervals of time, with the aim to increase power. In my training, I used leaps, bounds, single leg/double legged, and standing sprint starts for 10m. Another great way to train for power is doing weighted sled pulls, using a sprint parachute, or having a personal individual coach wrap a resistance band around your waist while you drive forward on a 45-degree angle. High knee drive, and pumping of the legs to build momentum, your coach can provide less or more resistance as you like. If you like to mix your training with gym sessions, doing box jumps (jumping and landing on a plyometric box available in gyms), with single/double leg immediately after a set of squats will fire up those fast twitch fibres also. The beach is also a great environment to get faster, the sand acts as a natural pressure reliever and adds resistance to the major muscles of the legs when sprinting. Remember to allow enough time to recover after a plyometric session, you will gain greater benefit from giving 100% exertion on each exercise, therefore there is a higher chance of injury if you don’t allow your body to recover. Over the next couple of weeks, I will share more tips and experiences with you.

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