One of the most frequently asked questions I have received in my 10 years as a performance coach is “How do I get faster?” There are a host of different training interventions we might use to make an athlete faster, however I wanted to share my top 5 commandments for increasing speed.
1. Sprint- It sounds simple but so many athletes and trainers focus on arbitrary drills to try and increase speed rather than performing actual sprinting! The principle of specificity remains true for increasing speed and the number one way to get faster is to sprint! Sprints need be high quality with a large amount of rest in between. This means that the total yardage should be kept low and the rest should amount to 1:00 for every 10 yards travelled. One of the best ways to keep intent high on sprints is to use a laser to provide the athlete with feedback after the sprint. Speed work should not feel like conditioning! If the athlete is winded they are no longer getting faster too many people associate hard workouts with increasing performance but in reality, speed and power are created when the nervous system has a large amount of time to recover between bouts of intense performance. In the words of Yuri Verkoshansky, the father of plyometrics, “any idiot can make another idiot tired.”
2. Train Explosive- In order to improve your ability to display force quickly and contract and relax at the right times in sprinting you need to train you nervous system. The best way to accomplish this is through jump training and plyometrics. If you only train force production through lifting weights you will limit you speed. The reason being is the force displayed in the weight room is too slow to carry over to the demands of your sport or sprinting. Jumping and plyometrics help bridge the gap by teaching athletes to display their strength quickly. Similar to sprinting plyometrics needs to be micro-dosed with large amounts of rest in between. I see to many athletes jumping over 100 times per session this a recipe for overtraining. We keep the volume usually around 20-40 jumps per session twice a week.
3. Increase Strength- Improving strength is usually the first barrier that we encounter when trying to improve speed. For untrained and youth athletes an increase in strength always leads to an increase in speed. Why? Because the athlete is able to put more force into the ground increasing their stride length with each step. Speed is dependent on stride length and stride frequency. The athlete that takes fewer steps will be faster. One of the biggest mistakes I see in the field is marketing youth “speed and agility” without addressing force production. Force precedes velocity without the requisite ability to produce and absorb force an athletes’ speed potential is limited.
4. Get Reactive- Often times a lack of linear speed is masked through perception and reaction abilities. If an athlete is involved in team sports it doesn’t matter how fast they can run in a straight line if they lack the ability to perceive and react to the stimulus around them. This is trained though chaotic agility drills and small sided games where athlete reacts to verbal, visual, or auditory cues. This needs to be trained year-round to ensure the quality is not diminished in the off-season.
5. Rest- Arguably the simplest and most effective way to ensure speed increases is by getting adequate rest. Today’s athletes do not get enough rest. Skill training, followed by performance training, followed by sports practice is a recipe for injury. Athletes need 48-72 hours between intense speed sessions. This is why we run a high/low stimulus model at Genesis to ensure athletes are getting adequate recovery. Athletes should be sleeping at least 7-8 hours every night. The off-season should be used to focus on improving performance outputs and athletes should have dedicated breaks from sport and skill training.
The Sports Performance Program at Genesis is predicated upon these 5 speed commandments, which is why our athletes are able to average a 3mph increase in speed in 3 months. Our off-season training program is kicking off and we have a few spots left for those interested. We will be at full capacity by January so if you are interested in signing up reply to his email and we will schedule your speed consult.