Six Keys to Improve Your Speed Training (2/2)

Last time we reviewed how Education and Focusing on the basics of technique will help all athletes improve their speed training

Key #3 Focus on Quality not Quantity.

I remember working with a certain hockey coach a long time ago.  His team was riddled with overuse injuries and they were slow. During practice he would always yell "Kuài, Kuài, Kuài!!". I watched as the players dragged themselves through yet another "speed" drill. By the end of practice many of the players simply laid on the ice from exhaustion. After the session the coach told me what a great speed session he had planned but the skaters just didn't produce..


People often confuse being busy with being productive and it happens during training as well.  Want to make people faster?  Give them enough rest so they trust you to go all out when its time. For optimal speed development results, keep the work periods to 2-10 seconds and the rest periods as long as 20-60 seconds or longer if the intensity is extremely high.  Explain you will be giving long rest periods so the drills can be done with maximum intensity, and stick to your word.

Key #4 Sport Specificity

There is something to be said about general movement ability as we discussed in Part 1.  Back pedel, shuffle, cross over etc.  Once those components have been covered its time to think about Sport Specific drills for your athlete. A volleyball player has very specific footwork to block or spike.  A basketball player has different footwork doing a layup or trying to block a shot.  A linebacker has different footwork then a soccer player.   When an athlete reaches a certain level of development this is the time to start adding in this type of footwork.  Video and coach feedback are your friends here. Use your imagination to create drills that mimic competition.  Ladder drills and plyos are great general training methods, but if you don't make your athletes practice their most important movements you should never wonder why they don't perform them well in a game.

Key #6 Consistency

Speed training program are meant to train the nervous system. The best way to make this happen is to consistently practice sport specific skills so the nervous system learns the optimal movement patters. 5-20 minutes, 2-3 days per week is all it takes. At the Jungle we make this happen by adding in two short speed drills to our warm-up routine before the beginning of the strength and power session. This does not mean strength movements that "resemble" the sport movements - I'm talking about actually doing a couple of sprints of or agility drills before each workout. As long as technique is emphasized, this brief, consistent practice will add up and allow your athlete to perform these skills perfectly on the field or court without any thought.

Key #6 Long Term Development

Another major problem I see in Speed Programs is simply starting too late to be effective.  2-3 weeks before the season starts is too late to make any serious gains to the nervous system. Not to say that working on speed just before the season is a waste of time, its just working the drills into a year round program is so much better. A great example of this is one of my current athletes who has made tremendous progress over the last year.  Maya has been very diligent in showing up to the gym week after week and month after month putting in maximum effort into a simple speed and power program.Even during periods of the year where exams were heavy, or her club season was in full swing she alway made it a priority to get herself to training. This has paid off for her. The vast majority of sessions for Maya consisted of technical sprinting, deceleration drills, agility drills and strength work. She didn't waste the last year doing a bunch of unnecessary conditioning work or other equally worthless exercises such as burpees and the like. She didn't chase fatigue or calorie burning. She trained her nervous system using non-fatiguing practice bouts of training.  She trained to move with violent grace. She trained to get better, not to make herself tired. Over that period of time her best Force acceleration treadmill sprint moved from mid 9's to mid 10's (mph) and now she turns heads not just with her quickness but with her raw speed and power. She put on 18 lbs going from 120 to 138lbs. She lifted heavy and with perfect form, fixed many of her postural issues and now her body functions at a high level.

This is training correctly. Maya has the foundation laid to be a force at the post secondary level.  Your young athlete can do the same. Don't wait until it's too late.Introduce changes gradually, and continually attempt to make improvements. Speed and agility training will have a positive impact on any team, and any athlete. Incorporating these six keys will help you help you kids with the most effective speed training program possible.

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