What You Don’t Know About Speed Training CAN Hurt You
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learn how to safely develop the fastest, strongest
athletes, maybe now is a good time. Go here for the goods:
***Speed Training Question***
My son is 11 years old and his speed is average to below
average. I have asked many coaches to look at him and all
coaches say that his technique is very good and he should
be faster. Others say his stride is somewhat short, or
does not swing his arms enough or he does not have the
strength for his body. Others say one day he will get
much faster. Have you seen kids that have good technique
but cannot improve their speed? Is there anything that
can be done now to help the development or is it just a
matter of continuing to focus on technique and the speed
It sounds like the council you’ve been seeking got their
training knowledge out of a Cracker Jack box.
Here is what I think, keeping in mind I don’t know anything
about this athlete, i.e, height, weight, body size, etc.
Now, before I give specific answers, here is the bottom
This athlete’s problem/s (like 99/100 between the ages of
8-18) is just overall lack of organized training/coaching.
It’s likely he plays a sport (or several) but engages in
no specific guided discovery or progression of movement
In short – he needs general athletic development. And this
general athletic development will make him a better overall
athlete, make him faster and stronger and fix all of his
problems over the appropriate amount of time.
It’s more than just doing drills or focusing on technique.
Athletes need to develop speed, strength, flexibility,
coordination and conditioning all within their overall
Further, every issue raised here is specifically addressed
in the Complete Speed Training Program.
PROBLEM: Nice technique and no speed or power (or not
enough strength for their body)
SOLUTION: Get the athlete stronger. At his age he can and
should be doing body weight exercises to improve strength.
This will improve his ability to apply mass specific force
to the ground and run faster.
(Covered in DVD #3 of Complete Speed Training)
I’d also be preparing him for the weightroom by teaching him
to clean, squat and deadlift with a broom handle or something
(Covered in DVD #4 of Complete Speed Training)
If you have ‘tweener’ athletes – too young to feel
comfortable lifting heavier weights, but strong enough that
body weight exercises don’t provide enough resistance to
improve absolute strength, you can always have the athlete
hold a medicine ball or other weighted object or wear a
weighted vest (but only during strength training).
This way he gets more resistance without the axial loading
you are afraid will stunt his growth (which it won’t do,
by the way).
(Not directly covered in Complete Speed Training, but
common sense says hold a medicine ball and follow the
instructions for each exercise covered in DVD #3 and #4.)
PROBLEM: Short stride
SOLUTION: Improve strength because strength development
also develops functional range of motion. So see above
Beyond that, work on improving static and dynamic range
This starts with using a structured dynamic warmup before
every practice or game and taking the time to stretch
(Covered in DVD #1 of Complete Speed Training)
When athletes have a short stride one of two things is
often taking place.
1. They’re purposely doing it thinking they’ll get up to
speed faster. This is not effective so don’t teach it or
let your athletes do it.
2. They have tight hips and/or hamstrings.
This is easy enough to address.
It starts with the dynamic warmup and warmdown as stated
before. It also may require some foam rolling, assisted
stretching and hurdle mobility added to the athlete’s
overall speed and athletic development program.
(Covered in DVD #1 and DVD #3 of Complete Speed Training)
This will improve range of motion in the hips and hamstrings,
allowing the athlete’s stride length to increase naturally.
As I’ve said many times, stride length and stride frequency
should never be specifically addressed at the subelite level.
So, if you have athletes who just look like they should be
faster, the problem is lack of organization and effective
execution of their overall training.
The solution, however, is quite simple.
We’ve done all the work for you:
***Speed Training Question***
How do you do a speed programme for 12 year old boys who
play 2 matches a week, run around at play time, have
football skills training, 3 times a week, leaving very
little energy to do a speed training programme.
>>>> MY COMMENTS
If these were my athletes or kids I would:
Do nothing further.
They are already training 5 days per week, which is full
time for kids this age.
The problem I have (and theoretically I could be wrong) is
that during their 2 matches per week they just play their
game, which is fine.
But during their 3 practices per week, what are they doing
to develop athletic ability?
Are they developing the skills I mentioned in the above
question – improving movement skills, coordination,
I doubt it. They’re probably doing some ball drills and
then scrimmaging the rest of practice.
Because that’s how most sport coaches ‘train’ athletes.
By just playing more of the sport and doing some long
distance running before or after.
This is why kids get hurt all the time.
Like they say, just because you pour syrup on crap don’t
make it pancakes…
***Speed Training Question***
Obviously strength development is a big component to
speed….where in your weekly speed training routine
should you place strength exercises such as Squats,
Lunges, Deadlifts – after a speed training session,
opposite day, etc? And, how often should you be lifting
weights for lower body strength development – once a
Mike you are almost right…
Strength development is THE biggest component to speed.
Your question is a loaded one because the answer depends
on when/where in the training program we’re talking about.
But such an in depth look at strength training is beyond
the scope of today’s Q&A.
Generally speaking, strength training (using heavy weights)
is going to be placed on days where training is taxing
to the Central Nervous System, i.e. Speed Days or high
intensity (above 90%) days.
Strength training in it’s relation to speed training is…
(Covered in DVD #4 and #5 of Complete Speed Training)
When working with school aged athletes, we’re going to
perform our strength training after our speed work to avoid
the poor technique that comes with running on tired legs.
Ideally, I’d have athletes lift in the AM and then sprint
in the PM, but that training is relegated mostly to
collegiate and professional athletes.
Of course, there are those that argue that strength training
should be done before speed work. The argument is that
strength training requires such low volumes it doesn’t
tax the CNS.
For more on this idea, check this out:
How often you should strength train is also subject for
Preseason and offseason I have athletes lift 3 days per
In season I have track and field athletes lift 3 days
In season I have non track and field athletes lift 2 days
Much of this depends on the experience of your athletes,
how many athletes you have, facility options, etc.
That’s it for today.
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