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Cal South E-News // September 2009 PERFORMANCE TRAINING

September 15, 2009

Performance Training and Injury Prevention content provided exclusively by Velocity Sports Performance

Why Suzy Should Skip

by Ken Vick
Executive Sports Performance Director/Co-Owner
Velocity Sports Performance, Redondo Beach, Irvine & Santa Clarita

At Velocity Sports Performance, our experiences working with players from MLS, NCAA Schools, and the US National Team have shown us that soccer players can improve speed & agility with consistent use of simple drills.

Skipping isn't one of the first things you see when you watch a soccer game. Yet, we highly recommend all kinds of skipping for soccer players. So, if training is supposed to improve your performance, why do it? Doesn't training need to be specific to soccer?

The first thing we need to consider is what specific means in a training context. An athlete undergoes S pecific Adaptation to Imposed Demands in a training program. Most people judge specificity by the way a drill or exercise looks. If you hook up some bungee cords, and do a soccer movement, it must be specific right? Unfortunately, the answer is NO.

If training specificity meant it had to look just like the sport, then the only thing every athlete would do is just play more. This is what we did 50 years ago. However, soccer players at the highest levels around the world know better.

Training specificity should match bio-motor and physical demands with the sport's demands. As an example, running at various speeds for time and distance can be an effective method of conditioning even if it's not a soccer game.

Skipping is a great drill for soccer players because it is specific in the following ways:

• Requires coordination of the whole body in multiple planes
• Develops a short contact time and high ground impulse for speed and agility
• Can be performed forward, backwards, laterally and even vertically.

The first point is often over looked in our early specialization culture. To be the best soccer player possible, you first need to be a well-rounded athlete. Overall coordination is a big part of this. The ability to maintain a rhythm and coordinate body parts is part of fundamental athleticism. The more athletic fundamentals you have, the more soccer specific movement challenges you can solve.

One of the keys to speed and agility is impulse. That's putting a big force into the ground in a small time. When I talk about skipping, I'm not talking about picking daisies. I mean fast, explosive movements. Try being quick and efficient in these different skips:

• Acceleration Skip - knees punch up to almost hip height and drive back into ground
• Lateral Skip - Same as the Acceleration Skip, but now moving sideways. The trail leg has to drive your body.
• Low Skip (forward, backward, lateral) - Quick skips with the feet coming no more than 6" off the ground. Speed matters here in all directions.
• Crossover Lateral Skip - Do a skip moving sideways, but cross the trail leg over in front of other leg and drive it back into ground.
• Skip and scoop - Every third skip, drop into a lunge position and scoop your arm through a big range of motion
• Hundreds of other variations you make up.

Put It to the Test
Your team should try all of these skips. See who can do them or who can't. Listen to foot contacts. They should be crisp and quiet not heavy and plodding. The body should appear coordinated in arms and legs. The core should be stable with good posture.

Try adding a variety of skips in your warm-ups. It will help develop athleticism, speed and agility, and prepare you to play.

Ken Vick is an expert in athletic development and the Executive Sports Performance Director/Co-Owner of Velocity Sports Performance in Redondo Beach, Irvine and Santa Clarita. He has worked with thousands of athletes, including players from the US National Soccer team, Olympic Medalists, NFL, NHL, NBA and college and youth athletes.

About Velocity Sports Performance:
Velocity Sports Performance is a national network of training centers where athletes of all sports, ages and skill levels go to improve their core athletic skills - speed, power and agility. Athletes train in small groups with degreed and certified performance coaches. Velocity Sports Performance is the Official Performance Training Partner of Cal South Soccer. Players who train with Velocity Sports Performance can expect to get to the ball quicker, cover more of the field faster, increase their shot power and reduce their chances of injury. Velocity Sports Performance has training centers throughout Southern California including Irvine, Redondo Beach, Anaheim, Carlsbad, San Diego, West LA and Santa Clarita.