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The Results Are In!

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The Results Are In!

We received many responses to last week’s survey, much more then we expected so thanks to all of you that participated!

For those of you who missed the survey question, here it is again:
If you had to choose one of the following to improve your athlete’s speed, what would it be? What do you think the most important activity is for developing speed is:

A) Running Mechanics
B) Plyometrics
C) Olympic lifts
D) Hill Training
E) Conditioning
F) Strength Training
G) Resistance Work (Sleds, Bands, etc)
H) Overspeed Training
I) None of the above, you guys are crazy and I can’t pick just one!

Here are the results:

1). Strength Training 26%
2). Running Mechanics 23%
3). I can’t pick just one 14%
4). Conditioning 11%
5). Overspeed Training 9%
6). Plyometrics 6%
6). Hill Training 6%
8). Olympic Lifts 3%
9). Resistance Work 2%

Now let’s go into each category. (I used some of the responses from members that I received from the survey but am not going to use their names since I did not have enough time to get their permission before the newsletter went out.)

Resistance work

I honestly thought this category would have received more votes. If you think about it, using sleds, bands etc. is a form of strength training. Not only is it a form of strength training but it is used in a running specific manner. You are teaching the athletes to apply force into the ground while running. If they don’t apply the force correctly, they won’t be able to move the sled.

Resistance training, I feel, is underused. Creating running specific strength is something you should look into if you do not have it in your program. Mike Boyle has a great sled training video that you should pick up.

Olympic Lifts

I love the Olympic Lifts and they are a great way to develop power. You want your athletes to be more explosive then you need to add the Olympic Lifts to your program. That being said, the Olympic Lifts are a great supplement to your speed training program. Just please teach them properly!

Hill Training

“As far as your survey goes my answer would be Hill training, with
overspeed training and running technique a close second and third. Of course we would explain and demonstrate running technique before doing the hill or overspeed training.”
-Member response

Hill running is great when used correctly. I use this mostly in the early stages of training to either work on acceleration development (short hills) or lactic tolerance (long hills). You can not run hills too often as it does change your natural running gait and you don’t want to create bad running habits.

Also, down hill running for over speed work can go in this category but I will wait to talk about it in the Overspeed Training category.


“I think that its to hard to focus on one but if I really had to I would
choose plyometrics, the key link between strength and speed.”
– Member response

Plyometrics is another activity that must be in your speed training program. Remember Carl Lewis? Well, back in his prime he did not weight train at all. He ran workouts and did tons of plyos. (He later said that if he knew about the great benefits of weight training that he would definitely have added it to his program).

Overspeed Training

“Overspeed training – to run faster I believe you have to practice at running faster.”
-Member response

I personally don’t use overspeed training often. Overspeed training used too much or improperly can cause poor running mechanics. If you use too steep of a decline for hill running or too much pulling resistance when towing then you are putting your athletes at more of a risk for hamstring trauma (micro tears, pulls).

If you do use Overspeed training, because some coaches have had great success with it, be careful. Use a slight decline 1-2 degrees for running, or even use the wind against your back to provide a little overspeed work.


“I believe, although hard to pick just one, I start at the base and would say conditioning is the first key to making one faster. If one is not able to work without getting to a point of exhaustion in basic drills then the rest of the list is pointless. Start at the ground and work up.”
– Member response

“ My answer would be E) Conditioning – Specific to the individual so they can go on to effectively learn
A) Running Mechanics.

Although in order to maximize speed even the best conditioned athlete must learn the mechanics for the movements specific to their sport and in that sense you could argue mechanics is the most important in the long term but all too often I see individuals training for their chosen sport and trying to improve their sport skills but are limited by the integration of each biomotor ability with the mechanics of movement eg. poor Olympic lifting form comes from poor posture and body awareness which in turn affects skill acquisition and those that are skilled in their sport but through poor posture seldom perform the various gym/conditioning training exercises with the same skill they apply to the sporting movements and with these individuals the subtleties of running mechanics will not bring about optimal results.”
– Member response

You all know how important conditioning for an athlete is. It provides a larger work capacity so your athletes are able physically to perform more speed work during training. Also, conditioning work can be used to help promote recovery. And of course, if you have an athlete that is really fast but can’t produce the same intensity or level of speed at the end of the game, their speed is almost worthless then.

I can’t pick just one

Many people choose this one. At first I thought of this one as a copout, because it makes the most sense and is easy to pick. You all know that I believe in the importance of covering every biomotor ability while training my athl
etes. Just look at my Complete Speed Training program and you will understand how important putting together a system that covers every aspect of speed training.

It’s my fault, I shouldn’t have added this one but that answer was always on every multiple choice test that I took. I should have left it out or said that if you had a gun to your head which ONE training category would you choose. Again, my bad.

Running Mechanics

“To answer your survey, if I had to choose 1 I would choose running
mechanics because I think that if you are running with proper form you will run more efficiently and thus you would be running faster.”
– Member response

“I will have to go with I) I can’t pick just one. There are too many
factors that go into the training to say that any of those are the best way. If I had to choose one I would say A) Running mechanics, since 8 out of 10 times athletes that come to me for training have some form of inefficiency in their form. This number is even more evident in younger ages. All in all it depends on their training level.”
– Member response

I love running mechanics. Little tweaks here and there can make some big improvements in sprint time. If you are not working on correcting form problems, well you wouldn’t be on this newsletter. But, seriously, if you either do not work on running mechanics or are not comfortable teaching them, stop reading this right now and buy Complete Speed Training, you will thank me later!

Strength Training

“In my opinion, strength training is the most important as it is foundational to a lot of the other traits/skills necessary to run faster. Though mechanics is very important you may see someone who is fast with poor mechanics but it is doubtful you will see someone who is fast who isn’t strong. If that strong person with poor mechanics improves their mechanics they will get faster. A weak person with great mechanics will never be fast because they can’t create the forces into the ground to move fast. And actually it’s highly unlikely that you could have great mechanics without strength because you wouldn’t have the strength to execute the mechanics or to put yourself in the positions necessary to run fast. The other drills/ methods mentioned are important but underlying it all is strength. As I see it the other methods supplement, augment, improve upon a foundation of strength.”
– Member response

“All of the choices you give are important. You need them all to reach your full potential. It’s like a puzzle, you need all the pieces to reach your maximum ability. However, I think that strength training is the most important (especially lower body strength). I think that that is a corner piece of the puzzle.”
– Member response

The members had great responses for the importance of strength training and there is much to add to that.

Notice how I didn’t put in the answers stride length or stride frequency? All you need to do is improve your strength levels and stride length and frequency will take care of themselves.

Here is another great response to the survey from one of our members that introduces some key points that weren’t included in the answers I gave but I feel are important and should be stated:

“I should make three points:
1. Each athlete is an individual with his/her own strengths and
weaknesses. It is the role of the coach to identify these and to develop an appropriate training program to capitalize on the strengths whilst improving the weaknesses.
2. Speed is achieved by a balance of training activities. The
individual activities must contribute to the whole.
3. The relative importance of each activity depends upon the training cycle phase that the athlete is in.”
– Member response

Ok, if I had to choose just one aspect of training to get my athletes faster what would I choose?

If I had to get an athlete faster immediately, I would work on mechanics. I have made dramatic improvements to athletes 40 yard dash times, 100 meter times, etc. with just correcting some form problems.

BUT, if I had to choose one aspect of speed training to improve an athletes’ speed and I had over a couple of weeks, Strength Training is the way to go. Choosing this answer is cheating though. I don’t view strength training as just weight training.

I use strength training for conditioning work, with general strength circuits. I can use sleds, bands and even hill work to improve strength. Olympic lifting and other forms of weight training are tools to improve strength, as you know.

How about plyometrics? Of course. Elastic strength is improved and supporting muscles that help with body control are more efficient and stronger.

Running mechanics are extremely important and must be worked on if you want your athletes to reach their full speed potential. But, you can have the most technically sound and efficient runner in the world and if they can’t produce enough force they will still look pretty but they will be slow. I hope you understand the importance of strength training.

This was a fun survey to read all of the responses but I still want to drive home the importance of a balanced program that will cover every aspect of training speed. In order to get the most out of your athletes, you need to make sure all the bases are covered. For more information on training speed: http://www.completespeedtraining.com

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