Coaching Clinics Irish Grassroots Football

Mike Antoniades – The need for SPEED – CHANGED to 7th December 2013

Mike is the Performance and Rehabilitation Director of Sport Dimensions, a company he set-up, specialising in Speed, Power and Rehabilitation techniques and training.

He is a qualified UEFA Coach, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Speed Coach and Rehabilitation Specialist. Mike works with a number professional football clubs in the UK, Europe and the USA, developing Speed and Conditioning programmes –

Clients include among others, athletes from, Chelsea FC, Chelsea Academy, Bolton Wanderers Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Ipswich Town, Saracens, Bath, Harlequins, Celtic, Blackburn, QPR, Italian Football Federation, GB Athletics, GB Bobsleigh, as well as Winter and Summer Olympians.

Mike runs coaching workshops and seminars on Soccer Speed and The Long Term Development of Young Footballers, in the UK, Europe and the USA and he also lectures at various universities on Biomechanics and injury prevention. He has developed a number of protocols for Performance and Rehabilitation which are being used successfully in professional teams and private practices.

Mike has been working with Chelsea Football club for many years and has developed Speed and Conditioning programs for the Academy – youngsters aged from 9 to 21 years old.


Are you running properly?

Poor running technique can lead to unnecessary injury risks if they are not picked up early.

“Being able to run fast in straight lines only, or having the capacity to Lift very heavy weights in the gym, will not necessarily transfer onto the football pitch”

Many recreational runners are placing undue strain on their bodies, as well as compromising their speed, by using the wrong technique. Conditioning coach Mike Antoniades has developed a unique methodology for teaching the correct and most efficient running technique to athletes and recreational users of all levels.

Are you running efficiently?

Some of the most obvious weaknesses I see in runners and joggers are:

  1. Bouncing up and down too much
  2. Over striding
  3. Not using their hamstrings enough
  4. Landing on feet too heavily
  5. Breaking action on landing
  6. Not using arms
  7. Twist midriff side to side while running
  8. The head and upper body are bent forward
  9. Jogging slower than you could walk!

Most joggers and runners are biomechanically inefficient because their running technique is poor.

They don’t use the necessary body parts efficiently so when they are supposed to be enjoying themselves they are instead suffering pain.

Mike explains a few of the basics.

What is football speed?

Many coaches and trainers believe that speed is something you are born with rather than a skill you can develop. Genetics is a very important factor and does make a difference to the make up and shape of athletes and their capacity to become stronger and more powerful. But strength and power are only two components of speed. They will assist in how fast you can run in a straight line, but in a multi-directional sport like football, being able to tun fast in straight lines only, or having the capacity to lift very heavy weights in the gym, will not neoessarily transfer an to the football bitch in terms of speed.

Football speed is a skill and just like any other skill it can be taught, it can be developed, and it can be improved through a systematic and progressive training approach.

Coaches and parents of young footballers, although they have the best interests of their children at heart, are usually just copying training drills or methodologies that they hear about or see the professional teams doing and in many situations these are detrimentel to the football and physical development of the youngsters.

Many professional football clubs have used specialist sprint coaches, whose background is track and field, to improve the speed of the players, but the biomechanics of straight line sprinting is different to the multi-directionar speed required in football. Practicing straight line sprinting continuously will improve a players conditioning, but it has very little functional benefit for a multi-directional sport like football.


Because full-out sprinting in a football game only makes up about one per cent of the total movement in a 90 minute game! You may ask, is the ability to run fast over 50 metres not important? Of course it is, but let’s put it into perspective.

“Football is a multi-directional, explosive Sport where there is a change of movement every four seconds”.

As I’ve said a couple of times already, Football is a multi-directional, explosive sport where there is a change of movement every four seconds. There is little benefit in football players spending too much time on drills which develop maximum straight line velocity when they would benefit more from shorter multi¬directional explosive training using the ball.

So, focusing an football specific moverments and individual technical skills is far more beneficial to the development of the young footballer.


How do you develop football speed?

In most football clubs whether at youth, amateur or professional level, there is no effective teaching of speed. There are many different ways of approaching the structure of speed training, but even today with all the modern coaching methodologies and available knowledge and research, speed training is coached as part of fitness and in many cases it is counterproductive to the development of football speed.

No consideration is given to the relationship between functional movement, the neuromuscular system, the energy systems, the type of speed required for the sport, the effect of the training on young athletes, recovery periods and other influencing factors.

Age is one of the most important factors. Coaches must remember that children are not mini adults and cannot train in the same way.

Scientifically it has been proven that strength is determined by developing the muscular system. Endurance is deterrnined by the carcliovascular system.

Speed, meanwhile, is determined by the nervous system and coordination.

There are THREE KEY POINTS to remember when developing football speed:

  1. The optimal training period for developing speed
  2. Training the neuromuseular system, when and how can this be done?
  3. Training football-specific speed


So how can you run faster, more efficiently and avoid injury?

The nervous, muscular, skeletal and cardiovascular systems of our body are all involved when we run. They all combine to create the neuromuscular and neuromechanical systems. We can improve the biomechanical movements for runners by teaching the body and the mind the correct motor patterns.

When you want to change a movement in your body it needs to be stored in your muscle memory so you can repeat without thinking, particularly when you are tired. When you perform a motion the body sends messages to the brain in a certain sequence.

To create a permanent map in your brain and nervous system you need to repeat this motion many times until it is ingrained in your muscles and your brain.

  1. The primary objective of motor learning is to train the Movement rather than the Muscle.
  2. Once we have taught the movement then improving the athletic performance of a runner is imperative in the pursuit of excellence and in injury prevention.
  3. The neuromuscular system then has to be stimulated to recruit and contract motor units simultaneously and to increase the strength of the contraction.

Did you know?

  • 65% of footballers over the age of 12 are slower turning on one side than the on the other, by up to o,85 of a second.
  • Many young footballers can improve their speed and quickness just by correcting their running biomechanics.
  • Reactive speed can be improved by up to 3o% with the correct training in just four weeks.
  • If youngsters acquire the basic movement skills by the age of 13 then they will very rarely make professional footballers.

Mike has also made a DVD called ‘How to coach soccer speed’

Mike will be running a workshop ‘Multi-directional speed for all sports’ in Dublin on Saturday December 7 2013 –

Venue: NDSL Academy (Oscar Traynor Road) D17

Tickets: €25

As part of the Coach Diary’s Youth Development workshops which are supported by Fingal County Council and Dublin City Sports Network.

See Mike’s website here The Running School



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