At the collegiate level, most coaches have every aspect of their seasons planned out in advanced. Most college coaches couldn’t imagine ‘winging’ it.
The idea of running, to quote my friend John Doherty, ‘Junction Boys’ style training would never realistically occur to them.
In case you don’t know what Junction Boys training is, watch theend of most football practices. It’s when coaches run athletes into the ground just because it’s what they did when they were in high school. It pretty much consists of running wind sprints until you can’t run anymore.
This, of course, is an inferior way to develop athletes. However,this style of coaching is unfortunately less the exception and more the rule.
I am sure that you have heard of or even know coaches thatdecide what they are doing for practice that day, on their driveover to the practice facility. Now don’t get me wrong, I have lived in New England most of my life so I know that you need to be able to make changes on the fly. Weather can cause problems to your ideal practice for that day so you need to be able to make adjustments. Even the way your athletes feel on that given day is going to change what you can do for practice. You can make adjustments to your training plan but you must know what the goal or theme of the workouts are and what you want to get accomplished in order for you to reach your end and desired result.
The key is to actually have a plan set-up in advance. Volumes, intensities and the entire program should be set-up and in place before you ever set foot on the practice field.
Over the course of this series, you’ll understand exactly howto do that.
But before you can begin creating a program for yourself or your athletes, there are certain questions you have to answer.
Let’s examine a few of those questions now:
1. What are the demands of your sport and, thus, the speed, strength and conditioning requirements of your athletes?
Without having a clear understanding of this foundational question, you can’t possibly design an effective program for anyone.
Let’s break this question down a little bit further so that there is no confusion. You shouldn’t read any more of this series(or conduct a practice session or workout) until you have clearly outlined these parameters.
The following questions will help you understand the mindset you must bring to planning and organizing your sport’s practice and training activities.
1. How long does a game/competition take?
The training plan for a 55 meter sprinter and a soccer playercan not be the same. One athlete may be competing for up to 90 minutes, the other for less than 7 seconds.
2. What is the rest period between plays/events?
Would the rest intervals for a track sprinter who may have anhour or more off between events be the same as a football playerwho only has 30-40 seconds between plays?
3. What is the ratio between sprinting, jogging and walking during a competition?
Your soccer and field hockey players need to be able to sprint at short bursts then go into a jog, repeatedly, for an extendedperiod of time. Would interval training be more useful for your athletes or continuous slow distance training? Generally I see these coaches focusing on the latter.
How about speed development? Acceleration is critical to the success of these athletes. But how often do coaches specificallybuild this necessary skill into their programs? In my experience,not often.
4. What type of ‘speed’ do your athletes need to succeed at their sport?
There is a difference between just doing some speed work and actual speed development. The former is what is occasionally done insome programs. The latter is specifically designed to foster adaptations that improve the skill of sprinting over time.
This is why I advocate a ‘short to long’ program with speed development, a topic that will be discussed in a future edition of this series.
Back to the question:
Do the demands of your sport focus on acceleration like soccer, football, lacrosse and basketball? Or does the ability to maintainnear top speeds determine success, like for a 200 meter sprinter?
Acceleration development and maximum velocity training must be addressed differently.
What about speed versus speed endurance?
Faster top speeds can only be developed when there is no presence of fatigue. While both skills need to be trained, some sports require athletes to be able to quickly accelerate or change directions while under a state of fatigue.
After all, there is a world of difference between these two seemingly similar workouts:
A.) 10x30m @ 100% intensity with 3 minutes rest
B.) 10x30m @ 100% intensity with 30 seconds rest
One will improve an athlete’s ability to get from point A to Point B in the shortest period of time possible.
The other will improve an athlete’s ability to repeatedly get from Point A to Point B in the shortest *average* time possible,with decreasing difference between the fastest and slowest times.
5. What sport specific and speed specific skills must be factored into your training plan?
We’ll go into this in much more detail when discussing training inventories, but it is worth mentioning here.
How many times in a game do your basketball players or volleyball players have to jump? How many times in a row will they have tojump in most situations?
Many coaches will have these athletes do sustained vertical jumps for periods of 30+ seconds as the sole means of improving specific ‘jumping’ or ‘vertical leaping’ ability.
But how many times do these athletes have to jump in a row?
Two, three *maybe* four if they are a Dennis Rodman style rebounder?
Wouldn’t they make better improvements to their maximum verticalleap height by practicing a few jumps at full intensity, then resting?
How does jumping endurance help an athlete outrebound their opponent or spike the ball in a single effort situation?
If my team does Workout A and yours does Workout B, whose athletes are going to succeed in getting more rebounds, blocks or kills over time?
A. 4 sets of 5 jump squats with 3-4 minutes rest.
B. 3 sets of 30 seconds sustained jump squats with one minute rest.
From here we can keep adding details to the training demands such as looking at the energy system and metabolic demands (we’ll get into all of that later).
But when you use common sense, it really isn’t that complicated.
Now that you are beginning to understand the specific demands ofyour sport, we have to look at two things in order to identifywhy this process is so important to athletic success:
1. Why we train in the first place2. What organized training actually does for the body
While conclusions made during a discussion of these two issues may seem painfully obvious once explained, one only has to look at the lack of organization and forethought behind most strengthand conditioning programs to understand that such issues are hardly being taken into consideration when most plans are being created.
That is why, when in doubt, we go back to the basics.
So, why do we train?
At its most basic level, we train to overcome fatigue.
During the course of any competition, athletes are going to get tired. By using certain specific training modalities, athletes can learn to overcome that fatigue, or at least delay it long enough to succeed.
Here is an analogy that fits.
The 100 meter dash.
Many people think (or are taught) that you will experience the greatest success in this race by running the entire distance as hard and as fast as humanly possible.
However, that is just not possible. (You’ll understand why when we discuss energy systems)
In an nutshell, a sprinter must ‘rest’ or ‘float’ during the race to conserve energy
. This is a subtle skill that takes patience and experience, but is nonetheless true. By the midpoint of the race, most athletes are, in fact, slowing down.
When you step back and look at the entire picture, the 100 meter dash, like most competitions, is won by the athlete who*decelerates the slowest*.
By using certain specific training modalities, the 100 meter runner can learn to overcome some of the fatigue that sets inby training him/herself to decelerate slower than the competition.
Now, it is the job of the 100 meter coach to factor in this fact to the athlete’s training by understanding the demands of the event. Of course slowing down slowing down is just one of manyelements of the 100 meter dash. But without specifically addressing this fact, athletes can not reach their potential.
So the coach must consider what methods he/she can use to address this issue, one of many limiting factors that must be understood and dealt with in order to develop the fastest possible athletes.
Another reason we train is to perfect technique.
Repetition of a *properly* executed skill will train the athlete to perform automatically, a critical skill when considering the amount of information athletes must process during the course of any competitive situation.
This too must be addressed in a specific fashion worked into the framework of the overall training plan.
But the main reason we train, above all else, is to improve performance. Often, to improve so that we are competing atour best at the end of the season for the state championship, playoff tournament, Super Bowl, etc.
But other times, especially in team based sports like football and basketball, athletes must be in top shape at the start of the regular season. The season is all about maintaining all the improvements that were made in the preseason.
This difference, however, in no way changes the approach that should be taken to creating the speed development program.
Regardless of the sport there are clearly many factors that go into a season. Your job is to ensure that your training program allows athletes to be at their best when the time comes.
The best way to maximize the likelihood of this occuring is to organize your training by carefully following the framework that is being laid out in this series.
The next issue of importance deals with what organized training techniques actually do to the body, especially in comparison to the generally unorganized training that most coaches employ.
This will go far in helping to understand just how significant the level of improvement can be when incorporating organized skill development into each microcycle, mesocycle and macrocycle.
In next week’s Complete Speed Training Newsletter we’ll explore this issue and look more specifically at the most important principles and components to designing an effective training program.
But consider this:
Once you commit to planning and organizing training, you’ll need to have an encyclopedia of drills, exercises, training aids, tools and technical instruction to make all the pieces fit together.
The blueprint of a new building is of no value if you don’t have the tools, supplies and resources to raise the structure.
I’m giving you the blueprint, but *you* need to take action if you expect your construction to be up to code.
Order Complete Speed Training now:
Believe me when I tell you, as we get deeper into this subject you’re going to realize just how critical an inventory of training exercises and drills are for all the elements of speed development.
Many of the topics I will discuss here are simplified, explained and organized for you in the Complete Speed Training forum.
You’ve heard the saying:
‘Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.’
Here I’m teaching you to fish, so you’ll have the knowledge to construct every detail of a program.
But Complete Speed Training just gives you the fish, so you don’t have to commit as much of your valuable time to program design.
When you have both, your athletes will be unstoppable.
Order today and you’ll have your copy of Complete Speed Training in hand before the next piece of this series is published.