Football's Acceleration & Top Speed SecretsCategoriesHigh Performance Podcast Strength & Conditioning Coaches Tips

#246 – Speed Demons: Unleashing Football’s Acceleration & Top Speed Secrets

Introducing “Football’s Acceleration & Top Speed Secrets”! Gerard takes you on a thrilling journey into the world of football speed training, offering practical insights and strategies that can be applied by players, coaches, and enthusiasts alike. As an accomplished coach and educator, Gerard draws from his extensive experience working with athletes at all levels, providing you with proven techniques and training methods to enhance your game. Uncover the hidden secrets of accelerating like a pro and reaching top speeds on the field with this invaluable resource. Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting, “Football’s Acceleration & Top Speed Secrets” is your key to unlocking your full potential on the pitch.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Key components for acceleration in team sport athletes
  • Training methods and drills he uses to improve top speed, allowing players to reach their maximum velocity on the field
  • Common misconceptions in acceleration training
  • What does a top-speed training session look like
  • Exercises for improving acceleration and power

People mentioned:

  • JB Morin
  • Dan Pfaff
  • Jonas Twiah Dodoo
  • Stu Mcmillan
  • Dan Moore
  • Ken Clarke

Unlocking Acceleration and Top Speed in Team Sport Athletes: Insights from Gerard O’Donnell


Acceleration and top speed are crucial elements in team sports, enabling athletes to gain an edge over their opponents. To delve deeper into this topic, we turn to Gerard O’Donnell, the Coach Education Manager at Athletics Ireland. With his expertise in athlete development, O’Donnell sheds light on key components and training strategies for unlocking acceleration and top speed in team sport athletes. In this blog post, we will explore O’Donnell’s insights and recommendations, providing valuable information for coaches, trainers, and athletes seeking to enhance their performance on the field.

The Skill of Acceleration

When it comes to acceleration, O’Donnell emphasizes that it is not merely a physical attribute but a skill that can be honed. Rather than pushing athletes to exhaustion, he focuses on teaching proper technique and body positioning. O’Donnell stresses the importance of maintaining a straight line from the ankle through the hip to the shoulder, which optimizes force generation and minimizes energy leakage. By helping athletes develop a solid foundation of posture and body awareness, he sets the stage for effective acceleration.

Debunking Misconceptions

O’Donnell addresses common misconceptions surrounding acceleration and top-speed development. One such misconception is the belief that high volume is necessary for improvement. Instead, O’Donnell suggests breaking down the skill into its components and gradually increasing intensity. He advocates for targeted drills that focus on specific aspects, such as posture, effective ground interaction, and foot placement. By emphasizing quality over quantity, athletes can make significant strides in their acceleration capabilities.

Building Acceleration and Top-Speed Training Programs

O’Donnell provides insights into structuring training programs to enhance acceleration and top speed in team sport athletes. He recommends starting with a concentrated focus on acceleration, allowing athletes to develop proper technique and movement patterns. O’Donnell suggests dedicating a few weeks to solidifying acceleration before gradually introducing top-speed training.

During acceleration sessions, O’Donnell advises coaches to allocate sufficient time for warm-up, skill breakdown, and drilling. Adequate rest periods are crucial to ensure athletes can perform at their best and optimize learning. As athletes become more comfortable with acceleration, O’Donnell incorporates elements of top-speed training, focusing on refining technique and increasing intensity.

O’Donnell emphasizes the importance of strength and power training for acceleration and top-speed development. General strength exercises, such as hip-dominant lifts, contribute to overall body robustness and stability. He also recommends including power exercises like Olympic lifts, resisted jumps, plyometrics, and medicine ball work to enhance explosive power and transfer it to on-field performance.

Practical Application and Case Studies

To further illustrate his approach, O’Donnell shares practical examples and case studies. He discusses specific drills and exercises designed to improve acceleration and top speed, including variations of resisted sprints, agility ladder drills, and change of direction exercises. O’Donnell emphasizes the importance of consistent practice and technique refinement to ensure athletes maximize their potential in team sports.


Gerard O’Donnell’s insights provide valuable guidance for coaches, trainers, and athletes aiming to unlock acceleration and top speed in team sport athletes. By recognizing acceleration as a skill and focusing on proper technique, athletes can achieve optimal performance on the field. Breaking down the skill into its components and gradually increasing intensity allows for targeted training and improvements in efficiency.

O’Donnell’s emphasis on strength and power training underscores the importance of developing a robust body capable of withstanding the demands of acceleration and top speed.

By incorporating a variety of exercises, coaches can enhance explosive power and contribute to athletes’ overall performance.

Incorporating O’Donnell’s recommendations and tailoring them to individual athletes and team sports can lead to notable improvements in acceleration and top speed, ultimately enhancing team performance and success.

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