If I were to rank the steps I use to prioritize coaching speed to my athletes it would look like this:
Steps to Becoming Faster
- Intensity– Run more aggressively, stop trying to look pretty, and put force into the ground when you step. Use your arms to help the length of foot contact from acceleration through top-end speed. A longer arm swing is needed for acceleration and the movement of mass. Shorter arm movement gets the feet off the ground quicker.
- Strength– I need my guys and gals stronger, but that takes time. This is the reason I list Intensity over Strength. I can get athletes faster if I teach them how to use more effort early on.
- Elastic Energy– Again, this is so important for getting the foot off the ground quicker, but it takes a little time to develop. We not only have to make the neuro-muscular changes, but we also have to increase tensile strength to handle more demand.
- Mechanics- I use the teaching of mechanics from day one, however not to the point of causing confusion and overthinking the job. My first order of business is getting the athletes to move first and then I will slowly and surely clean up technique.
Goal for Athletes
I need my athletes to understand the most important task. That task is to get the job done on the field or court. I want their mindset on covering what ever distance they have to cover quicker than their opponent. Don’t think! Just go!
I see many athletes attempting to run “pretty” and it actually has slowed down their turnover, force production, and results. I don’t want this as a result. I want acceleration and speed.
This is contrary to what most will teach, however you have to understand the “art of coaching” and that sometimes getting into the mind of the athlete is most important. If my athletes think technique and form always, then they don’t “run”.
My goal is to get them RUNNING, and then I worry about the rest as we go.
It may seem simple, but it works and the kids want to get fast, quickly!
If I am training top level sprinters the story changes because their job description changes.
STOP over coaching speed!