Why Soccer Speed Can Be Bad For You – Here’s What to Do About It

Soccer Speed is flipping awesome right? I mean who doesn’t want speed? Who doesn’t want to be able to steam-roll by their competition?

Get to the ball first?

Cooooome on, it’s obvious that it’s a great thing.


Ha! You knew the “however” was coming of course. Otherwise why we here right?

So, why is soccer speed potentially “bad” for you in soccer?

Well my dearest amigo, let’s go on a journey. Maybe throughout this journey that involves “soccer speed” we’ll see what I’m talking about.

Imagine Little Johnny (it’s always about little Johnny for me) grows up with some good old natural speed genes. He’s straight up faster than just about anyone except for maybe little Billy (my next favorite). And so Little Johnny does NOT need to work on his soccer speed or anything cause why would he? He’s already the fastest.  And what’s better is that being the fastest makes him one of the best on the field.

And so as he’s growing up everyone always comments: “geez, look at Johnny go, he’s so fast eh? (canadian lingo).”

And coaches go: “Little Johnny’s fast, we could definitely use him.”

But then a sad thing starts to happen.  As he gets older, Little Johnny starts falling behind everyone else.  I mean, heck, maybe if he’s lucky he stays fast and just always has natural speed.  This will always help him to a degree.  But, something changes…

He’s no longer dominant.  Players have caught up to him.  And what’s even worse, Little Johnny is getting left behind in terms of ball skills.

Johnny has soccer speed, but he lacks in soooooo many other areas.

And as we begin to explore we see that it’s not Little Johnny’s fault at all.

No no.. it’s definitely not.  It’s the coaches fault, it’s the parent’s fault, (his and others), and it’s the dang soccer society’s fault that we created.

You see, the back-story that was happening was that everyone only ever cared about winning in the now (class “win now mentality”).  And little did they realize that by encouraging his speed, and thinking it was such a great thing, the worst sin happened.

Little Johnny relied on his speed SO MUCH that he forsook training his “other” things.

I mean why would he?  Speed was enough…

“Little things” like ball control, dribbling, 1on1 moves, ability in tight spaces, proper defending mechanics and sooo much more.  Heck, Little Johnny’s speed was such an asset that even playing positionally smart soccer was irrelevant.

Coaches and parents loved his speed so much that all they cared about was him burning other players with that lighting pace of his.

Or catching any attacker no matter how BAD his defending mechanics were.

He didn’t need foot skills.  Who needs foot-skills when a 10 year old can just boot it down the field and out-run everyone?

Who needs game intelligence when you can just outrun everyone ?

And as the years went on the speed advantage disappeared.  Teams got smarter, players got bigger, players got more skilled, and to be able to fit into more skilled teams, better skills with the ball were required.  Speed alone was not enough.

How can speed be good enough if you can’t keep the ball in tight traffic?  Or beat a defender who’s equally as fast? OR defend properly against other fast players but who have foot-skills?

Little Johnny was left behind.  Speed alone was not good enough.

He eventually joined the mass amounts of players who grew up relying on speed at the cost of the real skills in soccer.

And this is where we see the truth of soccer.  Often, you can tell literally by one touch if a player has played soccer his whole life and throughout that time gotten millions of touches on the ball.  He/she has a natural touch or doesn’t.  That kind of touch comes from a lifetime of touches.  And as such, if you waste it ONLY relying on speed, by the time you’re 15 it’s usually too late to develop an elite touch.  It’s not volleyball – a sport you can pick up at an older age – rather, it’s a sport that takes time to develop killer ball control.

And so the lesson is simple.

Don’t let kids rely on speed in soccer.  Force them to learn all the other stuff.  EVEN when speed can get the job done for them.   Why?  Once again it’s simple.  Speed may get the job done for you now, but speed alone won’t get the job done later on…

So like many develop aspects in soccer, don’t let the desire of winning and succeeding in the “now” cloud your view on the overall development picture.

To Little Johnny NOT relying on speed alone…

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