It may be the buzzword of the moment, but the concept is nothing new, and it being a buzzword does not change the reality of what regular SAQ training can do for a player's game.
What Exactly Is SAQ?
Akin to 'bigger, faster, stronger' training, SAQ training focuses the player in on three main areas:
- Increasing top sprinting speed (under control)
- Improving the ease, nimbleness, and smoothness of movement
- Developing explosiveness (from a slow jog, or stopped position)
Why Should I Do SAQ Training?
Simply put, you can have the best technique and decision making ability in the world, but it means little if you can't apply them potently in game situations. Developing the physical side of your game through SAQ training will allow your technical and decision making abilities to blossom and will lead to more goals, assists, successful runs, tackles, etc.
What SAQ Training Can I Do To Reach Peak Performance and What Equipment Do I Need?
There is no secret formula or silver bullet for reaching success. Each and every player is unique with a specific set of physical characteristics and is at a unique point of development at any given moment. While there is no set formula or exercise to achieve your goals, there are many proven ways to improve your game with SAQ training. Below are just a few ideas to help get you started. Some of them require specialized equipment while some can be done with just a pair of proper shoes and the right location.
- Speed Ladder - Using a speed ladder, run through rungs in different patterns (i.e. 1 foot in each, two footed hop in each, side to side, etc.). This is a versatile piece of equipment as you can vary your workout in so many ways. Be sure to focus on foot placement with each and every step.
- Weaving and Cutting - Using cones or slalom poles, weave side to side or at an angle while sharply cutting to change direction quickly. Concentrate on the smoothness of movement and keep your body under control as you cut.
- Low Hurdles - Using low hurdles, run forward, side to side, or weave through them. Focus on your technique and footwork. It is easy to overlook technique but the way you move your legs and bend your joints is very important if you wish to develop the right muscles in the most effective way.
- Stair Runs - These are great because all you need are a good set of training/running shoes and your favorite staircase (ideally a large one). You can do these outside in a public location, or even inside. Vary your repetitions from one foot on each step, two feet on each step, hopping with two feet on each step, or one foot every other step, etc. Time your repetitions to challenge yourself to break your records and make sure to jog down as active recovery after each repetition up. An added benefit to stair runs are the opportunities to do "The Rocky" at the top of the stairs. You have to celebrate sometimes, right?
- Hill Runs - Again with these all you'll need are your cleats or some training/running shoes and a hill with a steep grading. The distance up does not need to be long. A hill of 20-40 yards is sufficient. Do sets of sprints up with active jogging down.
- Parachute Sprints - Using a parachute to create resistance while sprinting is a proven method to increase explosiveness. Grab your parachute and find an open 40-100 yard space. Doing 5 sets of 5 sprints each session will give a noticeable boost to your speed. Time yourself each day and shoot to break your record week over week.
PRO TIP: Always finish a repetition with a short sprint (when there is space to do so). Meaning, when you finish a run through your speed ladder or hurdles, explode forward to a marker about 5 yards away. This repeated action helps develop your hips and leg muscles for maximum explosiveness.
For other SAQ training ideas, do some quick Internet searching or check out sites like Stack.
Remember: Don't Rely On Team Training Alone!
A mistake so many players make is relying solely on team training sessions to work on SAQ. Joining in with the team will undoubtedly enhance a player's physical ability, but the real work should be done outside of training, in your back yard, the park, or even in your bedroom. A beautiful thing about SAQ training is that it is not location specific and most exercises can be done with only one person with little or no equipment (no more excuses for breaking your routine when traveling). Committing even 20 to 30 minutes of time 3 to 5 times per week to doing SAQ training on your own will make a massive difference!
And by the way... Soccer Source has the equipment you need to get your SAQ training going successfully! Check out our Training Equipment section for cones, agility poles, speed ladders, low hurdles, speed parachutes, and more!