Learn how to improve your speed in soccer.

Included, the best speed training drills used by the top academies.

How do I train for speed?

We all want to be fast, right?

In modern football, speed isn’t measured with sprints anymore, you need to have:

  • High top speed
  • Agility speed and changes of direction
  • Explode your acceleration when you start running

You have to practise each one differently. In Alicante Football Academy we teach our players to improve their speed with and without the ball!

how to train for speed football title


If you want to improve your speed you need to work on your physicality, making emphasis on the strength of your legs and the sharp fast twitch muscles.

In modern football, how fast you react it’s crucial, but once you react, how quickly you can perform the necessary action will separate from the rest and make you an outstanding player!

In this article we’re gonna show you soccer training drills for:

It’s crucial that you practise speed drills and exercises with and without the ball, and even exercises that mix both together, because when you train, you need to emulate the game situation to be able to be ready when game time comes!

In Alicante Football Academy we always like to separate and work in our players with these types of speed trainings:

Training speed with the ball

When you train your speed with the ball you need to make sure that you keep in under control at all times.

This means, that you need to maintain a balance between how fast you go and how you take care of the ball.

There’s no good on doing something really quick but losing the ball on the process!


Training speed without the ball

When you train speed without the ball, you’re actually training athletics!

The focus on these exercises is you get from point A to point B as fast and explosive as possible.

Keep a focus on you running technique, make sure you move your arms correctly and that you place your feet and posture correctly when you change direction.


There are some speed exercises that are proven to stimulate your fast twitch muscles and overall speed better than others. In Alicante Football Academy we use these, plus many more, to improve the speed, agility and acceleration of all the players!

The list is divided into types of speed exercises you can do with the ball and without the ball, making it a more realistic training session for you:


A sprint refers to the full max speed you can do in a run. In football you have to cover lots of ground in the field, so making sure you can do it fast and efficiently should be an important part of your speed training. 

Showing a good speed and help you to get scouted in football!

Sprint soccer drills with ball

To improve speed off the mark, running mechanics and acceleration training should feature in your football speed training routine.

A good exercise is to do high speed runs with the ball, and every time the coach claps, you have to change direction 90 degrees. Make sure you keep you center of gravity low when you change direction!

You can also make a full speed run with the ball from the center of the field to the goal, and once you get there, try to finish without losing speed. This will work your full speed as well as your composure in front of goal in fast situations.

Sprint soccer drills with out ball

This is the classic!

Find one or more people and perform different types of races in a straight line. Try to make the distance long enough to achieve a full in the race. The competition will recreate a game situation and push you further.

Another way to train full speed and have fun is to play catch up. One player has to touch you, once they do you have to touch someone to catch them.

This exercise will also improve acceleration as well as full speed.


Agility is crucial in modern football, and nowadays, it’s focused on sprints, quick feet and sharp changes of direction.

The more fluid and sharp you can be, the harder you will be to defend (or get attacked if you’re a defender) and the higher chance you will get of getting spotted and signed by a club.

Agility soccer exercises with ball

This is the most efficient way to improve your agility with the ball, classic zig zags!

Add 2 lines of 5 cones in each one in front of you, with 1 cone every 5 meters. Then, sprint in a zig zag between them and try to reach the end as fast as possible.

If you have friendly available, instead of cones use players to make it more realistic! Tell them to give you moderate pressure when you zig zag around them, as this will help you focus on keeping the ball under control.

Explode fast, make small steps when changing direction, keep balance and open your legs with every stride cover ground fast!

Agility football drills without ball

This exercise is to make you faster and more agile.

Add 4 cones in a square with enough distance for a short sprint and add a cone in the middle of the square. Then you have to run from one cone to another, then sprint to the cone in the middle and perform a faint from left to right as quickly as possible, imagine you are trying to get away from an opponent in a corner with a left-right faint.

After that, run to the other cone and turn for a final sprint to the end cone. The complete sprint should be like the figure of the letter ‘M’. Perform this 5 times in a row and rest.

With this drill, you have to focus on reaching full speed quickly and changing direction efficiently from cone to cone. You have to keep your center of gravity low because the angles to change direction will be over 90 degrees, and this will greatly improve your agility.


You have to be able to explode in an acceleration and go from 0 to full speed as fast as possible. The game can go from a simple pass between defenders to a counter attack, and you have to be ready to react and run to the ball faster than the defenders!

Acceleration drills with ball

Put 3 cones in a line 10 meters from each other, then, sprint forward and reach a cone and track backwards five meters then do it again 3 more times with 3 more cones in front of you, until you reach the end.

Perform this exercise with a ball, and make sure you don’t lose the control when you sprint, stop, and strack backwards. This drills will be a killer for your legs, but totally worth it!

You’re not only working forward acceleration, but also backwards!

Explosivity exercises without ball

This might sound odd but listen up!

Add 1 cone 5 meters from you, and another 20 meters from the first one.

Your job is to explode to the first cone, doing as many fast steps as possible. You have to content the floor with your foot many times to be able to push yourself forwards.

Once you reach the first cone, it’s the opposite! Open up your legs and try to reach the end doing as little steps as possible.

Try to get someone to count how many steps you do in the first sprint and try to improve your count every time.

how to improve sprint speed in football

To improve your print speed in football to need to train 3 times a week doing exercises that improve the fast twitch muscles in your legs. Also, you have to train your ability to reach quickly to situations.

Some sprint speed football drills are:

  • Speed sprints with sharp changes of direction with a clap or shout
  • Competitive races in short and long distances
Another way to improve it is in training, make sure that whatever exercise you’re doing, you get into situations where you have lots of space to run on to, therefore, when the ball comes, you will have the ability to make a long run at high and practise your speed!
Speed is crucial to succeed and catch the attention of scouts in football trials, some of the players in our academy managed to sign for football academies in Spain thanks to their speed in the field, below are some examples:



To improve your agility in football to need to practise your balance, strength in your legs, sharp changes of direction, as well as learning to keep your body’s center of gravity low.

This way, you will be able to perform sharp run with different changes of direction and speed. This is crucial in modern football, as these types of runs are far more common than straight line sprints.

Some agility football training drills are:

  • Zig zag and start stop sprints
  • The ‘figure of M’ agility exercise

All the players do these types of exercises in the morning at Alicante Football Academy.

Many of players that join our soccer academy from outside Europe really enjoy our agility training.

Do you want to see how a full day in the academy looks like? Check the video below:


There’s so many exercises ut there, but many people say that the ‘figure of M’ exercise works top speed, agility, acceleration and endurance all in 1! And it’s so easy to do, read all about it in the article.

A complete speed soccer session should be around 45hours long. The session could be split into sprint speed running, agility, explosivity and endurance exercises, with plenty of rest between each one!

A good number is 2 times a week, and if is possible, 4 times a week is optimal.

The important part is to make the most out of the session with the tips we’ve given you in the article.


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