As we develop our individual athletes or teams from an athletic standpoint we look at several components; speed and quickness, strength and power, and conditioning. If we want an athlete to make a game breaking play, we will look to improve speed and quickness. How important are the other components to the speed and quickness equation?
It is basic knowledge that the human body needs strength to move. How much strength we need is the question. We definitely know if we are stronger than what our mass weighs, then we can move it better. If we work to improve our strength in order to produce enough force to increase our rate of acceleration and velocity we can become faster. We now know that strength is a critical component in becoming faster.
Power is how quickly we can use our strength and move an object, in this case our body. Power is extremely important if we want to become faster. Strength alone will not make us faster. We need to use our strength and use it quickly! Our training, once we have a basic strength foundation, needs to consists of power or explosive type movements that allow the body to be moved quickly.
Speed and quickness technique training is often dismissed by many strength coaches in favor of the above mentioned strength and power training. Their theory is if we just get them strong, then they will naturally be faster. This might be true to some degree, however you cannot replace technique training with strength and power work. Athletes need to be trained on how to position their body in order to be most efficient when moving. Deceleration, cutting, lateral movements, and retreating skills are all mastered just like any other skill in sport, through repetition, repetition, repetition…
Conditioning is the one area that becomes lost in the speed equation. Of all the other components previously mentioned, conditioning is not directly associated with improving speed movements. However, some of the most exciting and important plays are made at the end of games when fatigue becomes a factor. For this reason, the best athletes are usually the best conditioned athletes. They have the stamina late in games or events to use proper technique, utilize their speed and power and make great decisions.
It is easy to see that any trainer or coach wanting to improve an athlete’s speed and quickness must focus all the components mentioned above. It just makes sense to make our athletes fit overall. There are certain events in sports, such as the shot put, that does not require a tremendous amount of conditioning. But strength, power and speed techniques are vital to being a good thrower. Conditioning will assist the thrower with training volume, but not in the same way conditioning affects a soccer athlete.
Teaching our athletes to be faster encompasses a lot factors. Do your homework, make a plan, continually assess and let the speed take over!
Coaching speed has been a passion of mine for over two decades. It is truly amazing to watch. To help you learn the techniques I have created many resources that emphasize multi-directional speed training. For most up-to-date resource, visit Speed Insiders.com and check out how you can improve your athletes.