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How to design an effective speed training program

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About a month ago I polled a number of subscribers
to find out the one topic they want to learn more
about.

The response was overwhelming…

Program Design.

As coaches, we have to understand program design
in order to improve our program and athletes each
year.

To help you, I’m giving you part of the
speed training program design manual I created.

How can you get the full version of this manual?

Well,  it’s free…

It’s one of the *nine* bonus resources I’m giving
you when your order the Complete Speed Training
Program
.

****
It doesn’t matter whether you coach team sports,
run 4, 8 or 12 week groups or train yourself, if
your season as a whole isn’t organized following
specific training guidelines, then neither you or
your athletes should expect to see consistent or
continuous improvement.

No periodization at all is just making things up
as you go along. And I can’t think of many
situations in life or athletics where such a
philosophy is a recipe for success.

The information here will be useful to you as a
supplement to your Complete Speed Training Program.

Having a large inventory of effective drills and
exercises to pull from for the various
phases and elements of training is, quite frankly,
essential to the continued success of your
athletes.

With the Complete Speed Training program as the
foundation, it is simply a matter of, literally,
plugging the information from the DVDs into the
appropriate workouts.

Now, let’s begin our look at training theory.

I find that one of the biggest misconceptions
regarding training theory is that there is some
universal method of training that magically applies
to everyone.

There isn’t.

There are multiple paths to the same goal. The
problem comes when coaches aren’t on any
particular path at all. Instead they just wander
aimlessly toward some poorly defined end point,
making things up based on their mood that day.
Science is not used in any of their training
decisions.

This is not to say that experience and tradition
don’t have a role in program design, they
do. But they shouldn’t be the foundation of the
program.

On top of that, let’s not make training theory
and program design more complicated than
it is. Adding depth and detail for the sake of
being fancy will take away from basic training
principles that serve as the glue holding the plan
together.

Don’t forget, a well thought out program doesn’t
absolve you from having to teach running
mechanics, drills, etc. In fact, it makes those
issues all the more important.

But you should still factor in the amount of time
you have to commit to program design before you
get in over your head. I always wish I had more
time to add more details to my speed training programs,
even the ones that result in state champions.

There is no such thing as the perfect plan. Plus,
any plan must account for the fluidity of
your season.

Your athletes may be excessively sore, rain may
keep you inside, cold weather could make
it unsafe to get that speed workout in, a
competition may get rescheduled, an injury could
occur, school couldget cancelled, etc., etc.

All of these things will force you to adapt to
the current situation.

That is why it is so important for you to take
the time to learn how and why certain things
affect athletes. You need to be able to make
changes to your training plan on the fly
without it throwing your entire season into chaos.

If you’re just cutting and pasting a sample
program and calling it your training plan, what
will you do when forced to improvise?

Now, any well designed program revolves around
one central principle.

Without it, you can’t possibly devise effective
training in the long term or the short term.

What is that one overriding principle?

Achieving a specific goal (injury free).

What is the goal of your training? What are your
athletes training for?

Is it to win the Superbowl? Qualify for the post
season? Peak for the State Championship?

You can’t ask for directions if you don’t know
where you’re going.

Designing an effective program is no different. I
want you to think about a few things.

What is your end goal? Is your current or past
training designed specifically to help you or
your athletes be at their best when that day
arrives? Or does erratic, inconsistent training
prevent you from getting there in the first place?

When you really sit down and think about it, how
organized and specific is your athletes’
training?

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 manual (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 player can not be exactly 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 an hour or more off between
events be the same as a football player who 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 extended period 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 specifically build 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 in some
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.

Back to the question:

Do the demands of your sport focus on acceleration
like soccer, football, lacrosse and basketball?
Or does the ability to maintain near 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.

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 to jump 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 vertical leap 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 of your sport, we have to
look at two things in order to identify why this
process is so important to athletic success.

********

You can get the rest of this program
design manual, 8 other coaching resources and 3+
hours of speed training video on DVD when you order
the Complete Speed Training Program.

With the fall season right around the corner this
is your opportunity to put your athletes in position
to have their best season ever.

Last updated by at .

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