Coach education article: Speed development in U15
Importance of Speed
Professional football is played at a higher tempo than 10 years ago (Williams et al, 1999). Team and player speed have both been implicated in conceding and scoring goals. Outfield football players can cover in excess of 380 miles in a season with a 10th of this at ‘sprinting’ speed (Times 2006). Distances of 10-13km is not uncommon to be covered in a match. Researchers have broken down total distance covered into periods of high and low intensity. They have shown that distance covered, frequency and intensity can be used to determine club and international standard players. It has been shown by time motion ...view middle of the document...
Table 1: Speed Characteristics of Elite, Sub-elite and Recreational Youth Players
10 m sprint time (sec)
Janssens et al. (1998) showed that there was a difference between ‘successfully players’ (players selected by clubs playing in the top league) and ‘less successful’ (players not progressing from regional leagues) in terms of performance of 340 metre shuttle running (Williams 2000). Similarly Panif et al. (1997) demonstrated that elite 16-year olds showed improved performance in running than no elite 16-year olds.
Figure 1: Optimal Trainability Boys and Girls
Optimal time for speed development
Grieg 2011 (personal correspondence) describes the typical footballer as a ‘mid ground’ athlete possessing no great athletic attributes, for example although he may cover 10K in a game it is not at an Olympic standard. However all sports people have the potential to increase their speed. Williams and Reilly (2000) argue that with a systematic approach to training there is an increased chance of becoming an aelite player. It would therefore be advantageous to have a program of speed development with the aim of increasing speed in youth players..
The optimal time for speed development for boys appears to be between ages 10-15 years (figure 1). Balyi and Way (2005) report the optimum time to train for speed is when the athlete undergoes a steep acceleration followed by a decellereation in height or Peak Height Velocity (PHV).
Andrzejewski (2009) reported that children have a greater number of intermediate fibres (13% compared to an adult which has 2%) and these have the potential to be transformed into fast twitch fibres. The author states that individuality of the football player shold be taken into account. Speed type athletes should not have the exact same program as endurance type athletes. Andrzejewski (2009) provides an example of an individualisation program for speed and endurance type footballers (Table 2). A three series of six repetitions of speed-coordination activities, with duration time of active rest dependent on the players particular motor type and the length of distance covered. Most notably, the time of active rest when compared to the distance covered should be shorter in speed-type players than n endurance-type players (Andrzejewski 2009).
Table 2: individualised sprint training session
Type of player Running distances covered Rest to work ratio (range)
Speed type 10-16 metres 1:20 - 1:32
Endurance type 5-11 metres 1:15 – 1:25
This study demonstrated improvement in speed over 10 and 20 metres. The main reasons for improvement in speed are (a) transforming intermediate fibres into fast twitch fibres, (b) rising phosphagen potential enzymatic activity ie. Creating kinase, (c) improvement in motor unit recruitment, (d) increase in anaerobic power...