This weeks post is from Scott Moody, our Conditioning Experts at Soccer F.I.T. Academy.
I seem to get questions regarding teaching running (sprinting) mechanics (form) to young soccer players every week. Parents and coaches are continuously asking me to work with an athletes sprint form, and they bring up Ronaldo as being a player they would like to emulate. They mention his form and technique, his explosiveness and his speed on the pitch as key aspects that they would like to see developed in their young players. In this 15 minute video, Ronaldo’s form is broken down in sprinting and jumping exercises and compared with champion sprinters. I think you will enjoy this…
Ronaldo’s Sprint Form
From the 3-5 minute mark on the video you will see Ronaldo’s form compared to a sprinters form. Former sprint champion, Darren Campbell, mentions that, “From a sprinter’s point of view Cristiano’s form is NOT THE BEST… but then again, Cristiano is NOT A SPRINTER.” They discuss his wild arm action and shorter strides as being a limiting factor in straight line sprinting, but then quickly remind the viewer that in a 90 minute match, very little of Ronaldo’s runs are in a straight line. Likewise, his adjustments to the defenders, the ball and the situation require these short steps and rapid changes of direction.
From the 6-10 minute mark on the video you will see a zig-zag speed test where Ronaldo dominates the sprinter. I want to call your attention to the way he gets into the directional change and what the sports scientists say about his ability to change directions. During the slow motion frames they are discussing Ronaldo’s use of the inside leg as the primary decelerator and the outside leg as the primary accelerator. This is something that we have taught for years, and continue to believe in as it allows athletes to effectively position their bodies for maximal efficiency. Here are two screen shots from the video reinforcing this technique.
We teach this technique with our athletes as it allows them to balance and control their momentum over the inside leg and then use the outside foot as the secondary braking system and primary accelerator as they sprint out of a directional change. Here is a video from our eBook, Creating Explosive Athletes – Plyos for Sport.
How do we apply this in our training sessions?
The point I am trying to drive home in this video is simple. Soccer players are not sprinters, and although we do want to improve their technique and form in speed based exercises, we are not trying to force them into a running motion that rarely shows up on the pitch. We have been criticized at times for spending too much time in our agility and strength progressions and not enough time on our straight ahead speed progressions. But to go back to what was said early on in the video, Ronaldo has a unique blend of strength per pound of body mass that enables him to be explosive on the pitch. Many of our athletes are too weak to put this type of force in the ground and therefore are limited in their speed.
Our progressions start off with a focus on getting the athletes to move better (agility, plyometric preparatory focus, strength, confidence in reactive and anticipation situations, etc.) and then as they are stronger, fitter and more confident we begin to guide them into running motions that are more efficient. It is important to remember that soccer players are not sprinters, and programs that spend too much time on linear sprint mechanics are often missing the key aspects of game speed:
Key Aspects of Game Speed that Don’t Involve Acceleration Mechanics
change of direction
speed with the ball
speed against other players
I hope you have enjoyed this video and please post your comments below if you would like to discuss this in more detail. To test your game speed, fill out the form in the upper right hand corner of this page and get started improving your GAME SPEED Today!
Have a Great Day!