The Mercurial Vapor IX is by far the most technically engineered football boot the sport has ever seen. Designed for fast runners, the lightweight – together with its specially shaped studs and dimpled upper surface – will allow players to move more swiftly on the pitch.
After you attain the ability to dart around the park and crush your opponents with your unrivalled pace, wouldn’t it excite you to know that you can get better? What if I told you that – with the right technique – you can combine the state-of-the-art technology in the Mercurial Vapor XI to enhance your speed?
Here are some tips and tricks to get more speed from your Mercurial Vapor IX.
Choose the right model
Playing surfaces differ and with that, your choice of boot should be different. The Mercurial Vapors are made for firm ground (FG), soft ground (SG) and artificial ground (AG). Depending on the surfaces you normally play on, the studs are key in achieving maximum traction as they facilitate for quick release from the turf. Also, the asymmetric design on the stud configuration delivers an explosive head-start along with the highly responsive blades which make way for game-altering changes in direction at top speeds.
A wrong choice would affect your capabilities to reach top speed.
Achieve the right balance
When running on the pitch, every move counts when you want to be the quickest. Balance is an aspect of the game that would give 0.5 to 1 second more to slip past your opponent and reach one step closer to scoring a goal. In order to achieve the right balance, you would have to alter the way you run.
Each time your right foot steps forward, your left arm moves forward with it – do the same for the other side. Get your body to register these movements by starting slowly with a jog-pace then progress to a running speed. Once you get the hang of it, try sprinting to see if you have registered the right balance into your muscle memory.
To practice the right running technique and to ensure that you get the most speed - you could use the agility ladder and incorporate the ‘high-knees’ with the corresponding arm movements. The first run down the ladder, start with the right foot and one the way back, use the left – this constitutes to one set. Do ten sets to complete the training.
Have you seen Cristiano Ronaldo do a gazillion step-overs before evading oncoming defenders? Well, the point is to eventually reach that level of skill but first you need to know how to do it right. When you master the technique of changing direction, again this would give you a fraction of a second head-start in running away from your opponent.
To do this correctly, you should – from a normal running position – point your left foot towards the left if you want to change your direction to the right and vice versa if you want to move in the opposite direction. The technique puts your body in a 'ready' position to quickly change direction and stay one step ahead of your opponent. The lightweight material, as well as the studs, of the Mercurial Vapor IX will allow you to use lesser effort but do more.
Pick a 10-metre distance on a level running surface (a football pitch would be best) and place a plank/pole at the end. To begin the drill, run the distance stated and once you arrive at the end, change your direction to the left, return to do it a second time but now move in the opposite direction. Two changes in direction constitutes to one set. Do ten of those to complete the training. Remember that your upper body should not move before your feet so that your opponents cannot read your trickery.
Minimum contact, maximum power
Speed is all about having quick feet and fast movements. The best way to get the most out of your sprints is to – as ridiculous as it may sound – spend very little time on the ground. You should have minimum contact with the turf but when you do, you must push off fast and strong. Again, the light material of the Mercurial Vapor IX lets your muscles focus on your feet rather than the weight of the boot.
To master the art of sprinting, you could also use the agility ladder on any playing surface. Move from one box to another by staying on your toes and only progress to the next square after you have made ground contact with both feet in the previous one. Quick, burst movements are key to get the most out of this drill. Once at the end, repeat four more times to complete the set. Do four sets to finish training.
The ready position
A lot of athletes make the mistake of sprinting from an ‘unready’ position – one that sees that standing upright with both feet flat on the ground. If you do this in the game, you will easily lose half a second getting into a ‘ready’ position to begin your run. Now you may ask, what exactly is the ready position?
Instead of simply standing around on the pitch waiting for the perfect pass, always remain on your toes and place them in front of each other - rather than side by side. At the same time, lower your centre of gravity by bending your knees slightly. These ‘preparations’ would keep your muscles tight and ready to burst into action.
You can incorporate the ‘ready’ position before you begin any of the abovementioned drills.
See Ronaldo in action: