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Football Specific Running Mechanics Explained

Football Specific Running Mechanics Explained

Players who are genetically gifted with an explosive, efficient running technique are few and far between, and many players fail to reach their true potential in football as a result of neglecting attention to detail in their basic running mechanics.

We've all got team mates (or maybe it's you) who are technically great players, but lack any speed in their movements or are not fast enough over the first few metres of their movements. The good news is that all players can become faster with the appropriate training - the player who can explode over the first few metres will always be in front.

The best players in the world can:

  • Effectively vary the pace of their play
  • Inject explosiveness
  • Decelerate with control
  • Use the speed appropriate to the phase of play they are in

Footballers do not continuously run at the same pace. Recent studies show how on average, players:

  • Walk for 28% of a match
  • Jog for 26% of the match
  • Sprint for 3% of the match
  • Use over 420 different movement patterns during a match

...with speeds varying from 0-30km/hr

Add into this that footballers are also required to tackle, pass, hold off opponents, dribble, head, shoot and change direction over 1000 times during a match, and you can soon begin to appreciate how important training for improved movement mechanics is to the modern day footballer.

On average, a footballer will touch the ball for less than 2 minutes per game!

Here are some top tips to polish up your movement mechanics... 

Arms Mechanics

  • Power and balance come from the upper body
  • Hands and shoulders relaxed
  • Hands should move from the buttocks to inline with the chest or head

Leg Lifting

  • Lifting the legs high over the first few metres of accelerating minimises force development and will slow you down
  • Use short, sharp steps
  • 45 degree knee lift
  • Knee and foot facing forwards
  • Keep off the heels
  • Strike with the ball of the foot


  • Keep the spine as straight as possible
  • Lean slightly forwards
  • Don't fold in the middle of your body


  • Lean back, strike the ground with the heel
  • Fire the arms quickly to increase steps


  • Move both arms upwards together
  • Maintain an upright position, slight bend at the knees
  • Power up from the balls of the feet

Lateral Movement

  • A wide stance decreases power generation
  • Push off the back foot
  • Strong arm drive when pushing off


  • Use a drop step
  • If turning to the right, drop and transfer weight to the left leg to push off
  • Hover right leg and swing it around to face the other direction
  • Use a strong arm drive

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