Stride length is determined by your explosive drive off of the ground, and your ability to fully flex and extend about the hip, knee, and ankle. Either one of these variables has the ability to compromise your stride length if underdeveloped or overdeveloped (out of balance).
You will optimally improve your drive off of the ground by incorporating a progression of strength and power resistance training, plyometrics, and overload running. Your ability to fully flex and extend about the hip, knee, and ankle is a matter of flexibility, and it will be improved through a progression of flexibility movements.
= strides ¸ time or distance (the number of strides taken in a set distance or time)
To improve stride frequency you will implement over-speed neuromuscular training. These training techniques will force the neuromuscular system to operate at a much higher rate than would normally be possible. The key to this type of training is preparation and progression. You must work up to, and into these advanced drills. Never, never attempt these drills in a deconditioned state, or before proper warm-up and stretching. These drills include rapid fire sprints, downhill sprints, and bungie assisted sprints.
Endurance will keep you in a tough game but Speed is what wins the game. Having the ability to turn on your jets and separate yourself from your opponent(s) is crucial to creating opportunities on the field. This article explains the components of speed and a basic program that you can use to develop those components in order to optimize your genetic potential.
Speed may be increased by targeting three major components of sprinting; running mechanics, stride length, and stride frequency.
The starting point for improving your speed is in evaluating and correcting your mechanics. Poor running mechanics are the result of poor motor patterns formed over time which you must now overcome and reconstruct. By repetitively following the cues listed below you can correct any poor mechanics you have picked up over the years. The key to reconstructing poor motor patterns is repetition of good practice.
Focused outward onto the field, with your target in sight
Explosive swing from your shoulder joints, ~90° angle at the elbow, swing your hand forward to chin height and then swing it backward to your back pocket (cheek). Arms swing quick and hard in sync with your hips and legs, do not swing across your body - forward to back only, emphasize the backward thrust of your elbows
Fingers together in a soft fist, yet not clinched into a tight fist, thumbs up
Tight abdominals and low back, entire body leaning forward, not bent-over at the waist, shoulders out in front of your hips
Pull your legs through, with knees high
Pull your heal up under your butt/hamstrings to shorten your leg for a faster movement
Extend your lower leg and foot downward as you forcefully extend your hip and drive off of the ground behind your hips, do not extend your stride by reaching out.
Top Speed Phase
(~30 - 50yds)
Raise the pitch, chin parallel to the ground
Focused on your target
More upright with a slight forward lean, shoulders positioned up over your hips
Same, except your knees don't travel as high up
Emphasis switches from purely pushing off behind your hips to pulling through under your hips and then a quick push off, foot strike is under your hips, do not reach out and strike in front of your hips this will cause braking to occur.
Coach Werner and JMUStrength&Conditioning retains all Rights and Copyrights to this article and photos but has agreed to allow me to post them at the Barrie Spirit Soccerwebsite free of charge. These are just a sample of his many excellent strength & conditioning articles which are available at the JMUStrength&Conditioningwebsite.