Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Adam Gemili… when two sports collide

By David Clarke

Adam Gemili playing for Dagenham (right)

When Arsene Wenger said speed was one of the first things he looked for in a player he must have missed Adam Gemili.

The 18-year-old found many admirers of his speed at the London Olympics running in the fourth 100m semi-final alongside World Champion Yohan Blake and World Record holder Tyson Gay and came in third.with a time of 10.06 just 0.04 seconds outside qualifying for the final.

His dream growing up was of becoming a professional footballer.

He spent time on the books of Chelsea as a schoolboy and was on the verge of earning a professional deal at League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge.

But a trip to local athletics club Blackheath and Bromley to develop his pace – the one attribute that already set him apart from other aspiring footballers – changed everything.

In his first meeting for the club in April 2011, Gemili astounded everyone by running below 11 seconds – the only athlete to do so at the event. Now he has run in the Olympics. As his football career drifted down the leagues.
His decision to put football on hold for a year came when he was offered his first professional contract by Dagenham and Redbridge in December last year.

“If I signed it, it obviously meant I had to stop athletics because I couldn’t do both, but I wanted to give athletics a go. I’d won the European junior silver in the summer, so I did want to see how far I could take it and how good I could become in athletics.

“I decided to devote the year to athletics and if it didn’t work out, I could still go back to football.”

As the fastest man in Britain I can’t see him returning.
Gemili’s pace is something to think about – should we as coaches be using techniques from athletic clubs to develop the pace of our players?

Other sports can help you coach different aspects of soccer. I often use basketball style coaching to show my players tactics in soccer, it’s a great sport to get players looking up and creating space with movement. Or rugby where players can see the ball, their team mates and the opposition try-line much more easily than when they have their heads down looking at the ball in soccer.

What they said“He’s going to be one of the greatest sprinters of all time.”
Tyson Gay, former 100m world record holder

“What I’ve seen over the last three months is exceptional. I do believe he will run sub-10 very soon.”
Darren Campbell, Olympic 200m silver medallist (2000)

“He always seems to be able to take things in his stride. He is cool, calm and can deal with anything. I can’t see any reason why he can’t run under 10 seconds. He has the world at his feet.”
Pat Calnan, Blackheath and Bromley senior men’s team manager



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