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Acceleration Development for the Soccer Athlete

This article was generously provided by Michael Rose, MS (University of Pittsburgh) CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist) of New Wave Soccer Conditioning.

New Wave Soccer Conditioning ( is an on-line, soccer specific strength & conditioning program that includes videos, graphic pictures/photos, & written instructions for drills/exercises along with program design options for those individuals interested in purchasing the program (by clicking on any 'signup' link buttons on the web site).

Since most runs in soccer average 6-12 yards in length, the development of proper acceleration is crucial for soccer players when it comes to improving soccer performance.

Acceleration occurs during the initial 6-8 strides of a sprint. Acceleration is a process of gradually increasing each stride, until full stride length is reached. When accelerating, it is important not to make too long of a stride during the first few steps. It is important to drive off the balls of the feet, and do not run off of the toes during acceleration.

The body should have a forward lean that originates from the ankles. There should not be any bending from the waist. Triple extension of the ankles, knees, and hips will enable the soccer athlete to feel a pushing action from the legs as they provide force to the ground behind the center of gravity.

Using proper arm action by driving the arms down and back, with the elbows flexed at 90 degrees, will enable the legs to apply greater force against the ground. Do not allow any lateral movement with the arm swing, as this will cause the shoulders to turn, which will reduce acceleration and speed.

Last point, but one that is very important, is to keep the body relaxed during acceleration. A body, which has tension, cannot run at maximal speed.

A good drill to utilize for learning the correct increasing stride pattern for acceleration is to do the following: Take six short pieces of rope and spread them out over various increasing distances (e.g.-36 inches, 42 inches, 50 inches, 58 inches, & 66 inches).

These are just examples of increasing distances, but you will need to determine what exact distances will work best for you. The goal is to learn how to progress from shorter strides to longer strides, and not over-stride too early in the acceleration process.

Michael Rose, MS, CSCS offers an on-line, soccer specific strength & conditioning program at

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