When asked what's holding them back, most players will say...

I NEED TO PLAY FASTER.

And it’s not just players that are telling me this…coaches say the same thing. “She needs to make quicker decisions,” or “He needs to play at a faster pace.” These seem to be the top responses I get when asking coaches what they feel their players need. So... what is speed of play?

Most people will tell you that speed of play comes back to game awareness or a knowledge of situations and tactical decision making. And I would agree with this statement. This is best developed through watching professional games and playing high levels of competition. 

ANOTHER LAYER TO THE SPEED OF PLAY QUESTION

For players to react quickly and efficiently within the game, they need to have both tactical awareness as well as confidence in their ability to execute. To play confidently, players need great body control and awareness. They need:

  • Strength to control their body
  • Explosiveness to change directions
  • Confident first touch 
  • Ball Control in tight spaces 
  • A high level of fitness to focus and think clearly as fatigue sets in

I think these aspects can also effect speed of play…  

STRENGTH CAN IMPACT SPEED OF PLAY

If a player can become stronger and more physically explosive (everything from body control / awareness aspects to power and explosive speed training) as they move on field, then they will most likely move at a faster pace (cover more ground) and get stopped more efficiently (balanced and in control of their body).

The ability to quickly stop in a balanced, athletic position can give a player a few tenths of a second to process the situation before receiving a pass or defending another player. 

Additionally, as players get stronger their confidence usually improves. Confidence can also have an impact on speed of play. If you trust that your are strong enough to control the situations you get into, you tend to play more aggressively. 

SKILL CAN IMPACT SPEED OF PLAY

If a player improves his or her first touch, and can place the ball with directionally specific, perfectly weighted accuracy, it will buy them time (and space) to make better decisions. The player tends to trust their touch and this allows them to think about what they are going to do next. This forward thinking ability makes it easier to play faster.

If a player is confident with the ball at their feet, they don’t immediately look for an exit strategy or a quick outlet pass, but instead are more patient, and will look for the best tactical option. Our confident players tend to use less tricks, and instead speed up the game with quick, skillful decisions.

CAN FITNESS BE THE GAME CHANGER?

As fatigue sets in, the brain begins to tell the body to slow down. If the heart rate gets too high, and the player tries to push through this fatigue, the body will go through a process that will eventually start to inhibit muscle function to conserve energy and slow the player down. All of this will soon begin to cloud the players thought process as well as reduce power, quickness and coordination. The end result is a player that gets into bad positions, doesn’t react efficiently or can’t think quickly enough to play with speed. 

All of these physical and technical aspects ultimately effect speed of play, decision making and game speed.

USING RISE TO IMPACT SPEED OF PLAY

As players develop, the RISE app will blend multiple aspects together in functionally specific ways. Blending quick footwork with our ball skills, agility with our passing drills, longer working bouts, faster tempos and shorter rest periods. This is an example of how the RISE Functionally Integrated Training Program is designed to enhance speed of play on the field.  

Download the RISE app today to take your first step towards improved speed of play!

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