Max Speed and High Speed Endurance tips with Football SCR

Max Speed and High Speed Endurance tips with Football SCR

Click on the ‘Our Mission’ section of Football SCR’s website, and you get a good understanding of what these guys are all about.

As a team of strength coaches and physiotherapists working at the highest levels of professional football, we believe every footballer deserves the right to play their best game. To enable this, our mission is to provide world-class multi-disciplinary Sports Science & Medicine support, in a result driven environment that allows every player to train like a pro.”

Our mission and Football SCR’s mission are intertwined. With our soccer GPS tracker Apex Athlete Series, we provide you with the insights to understand exactly what you’re physically achieving on the pitch; they coach you to become faster and fitter.

So, this week, we met up with Dan from FSCR and mined his brain for some of his best tips on how to become faster and fitter on the pitch.

How much attention should athletes pay to their max speeds?

Max speed is the maximum velocity a player can sprint and therefore it takes time and distance to achieve.

With 90% of all sprints less than 5 seconds (<20 m) and only 10% greater than 5 seconds (>20 m), it is easy to neglect max speed qualities within the speed paradigm (acceleration, maximal speed and agility) (1).

However, it is important to highlight that sprints in football are typically performed when a player is already moving at moderate speeds and therefore max speed will be achieved more often than you think despite the predicted constraints of distance and time.

Max speed is particularly important for wide defenders who perform the greatest number of sprints over 20 m in a match (1).

Although wide defenders, wide midfielders and forwards achieve the greatest sprint distance in a match, it is important all players, regardless of position, work on improving their max speed (1).

A great example is Virgil van Dijk who performed the fastest recorded sprint (34.5 km/h) in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League for Liverpool against Barcelona as a central defender covering almost the full length of the pitch to get back to defend his goal from a Liverpool corner.

Based on the research and practical example provided, it is clear max speed is a physical quality you don’t want to ignore.

What’s the one drill you would recommend to athletes for improving their speed endurance?

Speed endurance or repeat sprint ability (RSA) in football is an important factor in team success (2). Improvement in RSA can be achieved with either interval training or specific training like small sided games.

We prefer to utilise the principles of specificity as much as possible, so we would recommend small sided games to improve RSA.

These kinds of games can be manipulated for specific metabolic conditioning by changing the number of players, the pitch size, rule modifications, goalkeepers, work:rest ratio and coach encouragement (5;6).

It is important to improve both aerobic (V02max, 90-95% of your max heart rate) and anaerobic (LT, 85-90% of max heart rate) adaptations to improve RSA.

Research shows large pitch dimensions with teams of small numbers (3 v 3 or 4 v 4) yield significant differences in aerobic and anaerobic adaptations and therefore we would recommend this to improve speed endurance or RSA with progressions in the work:rest ratio that sees work durations increase and rest periods decrease overtime (7).

If you had to give one bit of advice to improve your acceleration?

Get in the gym and improve your rate of force development (RFD)! Improving RFD will improve a players’ ability to develop larger forces in a shorter period of time making them more explosive.

Research shows the combination of both maximal strength and power training improves RFD and is most likely to occur through increases in musculo-tendon stiffness, enhanced muscle force production and increases in neural drive (8).

It is also important to improve your acceleration or change of direction technique to utilise your improved explosive strength.

What’s the best way to build injury prevention into your strength and conditioning routine?

Our injury prevention programme focuses on the three most frequently injured muscle groups in football, the hamstrings, quadriceps and the adductors (9).

Our aim is to alter the angle at which peak-torque is produced, improve isolated endurance capacity and reduce the risk of delayed onset of muscle soreness via isometrics held at long muscle lengths for 15-30 seconds (10).

We utilise many different variations of Hamstring Bridges, Reverse Nordics and Adductor Bridges and will programme one exercise for each muscle group in a tri-set with no rest between exercises at the backend of our strength and conditioning programme.

How has GPS tracking impacted on how you coach athletes?

We utilise GPS to aid in the periodization and retrospective analysis of our daily training sessions. We closely monitor total distance, high speed running, accelerations and decelerations.

On our extensive training days, we put an emphasis on progressively overloading total distance and high-speed running.

On our intensive training days, we put an emphasis on progressively overloading accelerations and decelerations. We can progressively overload our sessions by retrospectively analysing our previous sessions and setting new targets to be achieved.

During the session we can utilise the use of real time feedback through Apex’s live data to monitor our players and make sure they are in line with the targets that have been set.

You can follow Dan and the guys at FSCR at Instragram here. And to put all this into practise, get your Athlete Series now and take your performance to the next level.



  • Andrzeiewski,M., Chmura,J., Pluta, B., Strzelczyk, R., Kasprzak, A. (2013). Analysis of sprinting activities of professional soccer players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 27, 2134-2140.
  • Turner, A.N., & Stewart, P.F. (2013). Repeat sprint ability. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 35, 37-41.
  • Kelly, D.M., Gregson, W., Reilly, T., & Drust, B. (2013). The development of a soccer specific training drill for elite level players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27, 938-943.
  • Impellizzeri, F. M., Marcora, S.M., Castagna, C., Reilly, T., Sassi, A., Iaia, F.M., Rampinini, E. (2006). Physiological and performance effects of generic versus specific aerobic training in soccer players. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 27, 483-492.
  • Hill-Haas, S.V., Dawson, B., Impellizzeri, F.M & Coutts, A.J. (2011). Physiology of small-sided games training in football: a systematic review. Sports Medicine, 41, 199-220.
  • Jeffreys, I. (2004). The use of small-sided games in the metabolic training of high school soccer players. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 26, 77-78.
  • Rampinini, E., Impellizzeri, F.M., Castagna, C., Abt, G., Chamari, K., Sassi, A., & Marcora, M. (2007). Factors influencing physiological responses to small-sided soccer games. Journal of Sports Sciences, 25, 659-666.
  • Maffiuletti, N.A., Aagaard, P., Blazevich, A.J., Folland, J., Tillin,N, & Duchateau, J. (2016). Rate of force development: physiological and methodological considerations. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 116, 1091-1116.
  • Ekstrand, J., Hägglund, M., Waldén, M. (2011). Injury incidence and injury patterns in professional football: the UEFA injury study. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45 (7), 553-558.
  • Philippou, A., Bogdanis,G., Nevil, A., Maridaki, M. (2004). Changes in the angle-force curve of human elbow flexors following eccentric and isometric exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 93, 237-244.