“When I was younger I used to run the 100 metres for my school and the city of Sheffield, and I would train every Thursday for an hour with a sprint coach. Doing that has really benefited me in my football career. My sprint coach taught me to keep my head down for the first 30 metres and to rise after that. Of course running the 100 metres is different to running fast in a football match, but you have to try and take little bits out of it and put it into your football.”
“If you have a friend who’s quick, get out on the training pitch and get them to chase you. It’s simple, but it will push you and you’ll get quicker. You can also create a 1 vs 1 situation and have a team-mate run at you with the ball. As an attacking full-back I like to practise my dribbling at speed, using my pace to beat an opponent. With me being a right-back and Gareth Bale a left winger, I mark him quite a lot in training. He’s my sprint trainer and he gives me a good run for my money when it comes to acceleration and deceleration.
“You also have to use your brain to make an impact as a fast player. You can’t go sprinting up and down the wing endlessly for no reason, because you’re going to be telling the gaffer you need to come off after 60 minutes due to exhaustion! This season at Tottenham I’ve learned that you have to pick and choose when you push on up the line and when you should sit back in defence and let your winger do the work. You have to save yourself for the right moments in a game.”
“To build power in my legs for acceleration, I do squats and lunges as part of a mini-circuit that takes 20-30 minutes. I perform the squat with a barbell and do four sets of two or three repetitions.
"I’ll do the lunge wearing a 10 kilogram weighted vest. To help develop explosive strength, I spring upwards, switching legs in mid-air and landing back in the lunge position.
I’ll do five lunges on each leg. These exercises fire up your glutes to improve acceleration over the first five yards.
Concentrate on executing the exercises with quality technique - it makes all the difference. If I’m playing a game at the weekend I’ll do these exercises on a Tuesday to make sure I’m ready to hit the ground running for the game on Saturday or Sunday.”