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Designing an Effective Speed Training Program – Part VII

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At this point we’ve covered a ton of information. Again, if you want a refresher, click on the above link for the other articles.

Today I want to cover 10 Key Points that you must considerand apply when designing your speed training program. As you read these points, think about the athletes you’ll be working with and how to apply these with the specific training protocols you’ll be needing to use.

1. Identify your athletes’ weaknesses
You have to know where your athletes are weak if you expectto be able to effectively and consistently help them improvetheir speed and performance.

In large part, this means establishing a baseline of properposture and efficiency in the movement patterns used intheir sport and training.

Common weaknesses I see in athletes running mechanics are almost always due to lack of coordination, strength, flexibility and proper instruction.

2. Be consistent in your training
I often see coaches who will do core work for the first two weeks of the season and never specifically do it again.Or, they’ll work on speed drills until the first competition and then assume athletes don’t need further work.

Any element of training that isn’t consistently addressed will regress and become ineffective. Don’t let your athletes become detrained in areas that are required for success.
A poorly designed speed training program is better than nospeed training program at all.

3. Be specific
Use training activities that complement those movements thatare going to be required in your particular sport. Thismeans using similar movement speeds, intensities and energy systems to those required in competition.

A football player doesn’t need to go for a 3 mile run on his recovery day, but a soccer player does.

A 100m sprinter doesn’t need to focus on change of direction drills, but tennis player does.
And of course, no athlete can improve their speed by runningat less than full speed.

4. Sweat the Technique
You must be a stickler for perfect technique in practice. I always tell athletes that it’s likely we’ll have to take a step back to go two steps forward.

If that means you have to move a little bit slower in orderto get things right then so be it. Unlearning bad habits is the only way to improve.

If athletes focus on form and technique in practice, thecorrect movement patterns will soon become automated and this will carry over to competitions.

It’s easy to ignore mistakes in technique that take a littlemore time and effort to fix. But in the long run everyone will be much better off taking the time to work out thekinks in practice.

Remember, practice is the time to work on mechanical problems.Even when the problem isn’t fixed, don’t address it during a competition. Just let the athlete be an athlete.

5. Use ground based, closed chain activities
In short this means, train on your feet. With most sports, the majority of competition takes place on the feet. To further emphasize the third topic, your athletes should do the same if you want to maximize their results.

A couple of examples are: squats instead of leg press and medicine ball work instead of crunches.

6. Strengthen the core
When running, most of your power is transferred through the core. This means the strength and conditioning of your abdominals, lower back, hips and glutes will dictate how much of your leg strength can be used to drive you forward.

We often neglect to train this area consistently, which isa significant mistake.
Slow down some video tape of an athlete with poor core strength and you will see the blatant postural deficiencies that result. Of course, this has a considerable impact onperformance.

7. No gain with pain
Don’t have athletes perform or continue to perform any activities that cause pain. This will either cause anacute or long term injury or develop an faulty movement pattern.
If squatting or a certain plyometric exercise causes painin the knee, stop doing it. Find a different exercise ordiagnose the cause of the knee pain.

Often times with some basic evaluation, we can determine the reasons behind the pain and prescribe corrective measuresthat will allow for gradually resuming the movements.

8. Mental Strength People!
I say this to my groups all the time and they often mockme for saying it.
But the funny thing is, I hear them using the same line to motivate their teammates.
Whether it’s a physically demanding set of deadlifts, a brutal speed endurance workout or simply focusing on our speed drills, mental focus and toughness will separate your athletes from their competition.

I’ll take an athlete of lesser talent who is mentally strong any day.

It is your responsibility to never allow your athletes off the hook when performing any activity with less than 100% effort and focus.

When working with large groups and teams, I find the bestway to get the whole group to buy into the training plan isto really get on the captains and the stars of the team.When they have to be accountable for every step of their workout, the younger athletes will follow suit.

9. Build them up before you break them down.
Before you correct a mistake or instruct an athlete on improving a particular skill, it’s critical that you paythem a compliment first.

Athletes will often get frustrated at how difficult it canbe to apply new movement patterns. If I keep telling them what they’re doing wrong, they’ll start to shut down.

But when I lead with a positive comment, they are willingto make many more efforts before reaching the point of diminishing returns.

So I’ll always say something like ‘Nice job Billy. You’re really starting to recover the heel quickly and you’re keeping your toe up. Remember how tough that was for you last week?Now all I want you to do now is….’

The first thing they hear is the compliment, so the correction is taken as constructive instead of yet another failure.

10. Periodize your training!
Maybe I should have led with this one. However, I wanted it to be the last point that you read.
To get the best results from your speed program, you have to be able to measure the progress. That means periodizing your season plan by following all the principles that we’ve discussed so far in this series.

First it means looking at the end goal and working back from the beginning. Ultimately it means creating an organized,well structured and flexible plan that will guide both you and your athletes to their goals.

Remember, a poorly designed program is better than one with no structure at all. Consistency is the key at a foundational level.

To determine how to apply these 10 principles, as well asall the other topics that have been discussed, it’s critical that you implement a complete speed training program with your athletes and clients.

Get the help you need to organize your training with the only speed training program that covers every modality of training required to make significant improvements to the speed, agility and power of every athlete.

Check out Complete Speed Training Now:

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