When it comes to developing a team sport athlete's speed the number one predictor of success is acceleration. Team sports require athletes to get up to speed over a short distance after decelerating, changing directions, or beginning a play. Since acceleration is fundamental to successful performance, I have dedicated a lot of time seeking to improve it in our athletes. I wanted to share some of the methods I have found to be most effective over the past 9 years of training team sport athletes:
1. Utilizing resistance: Research as well as experience has shown that loads from 50-80% body mass are useful in develop acceleration as they improve an athlete’s ability to produce horizontal force. Sled sprints and bands are a staple in my acceleration programs.
2. Potentiation: I have had a ton of success using a phenomenon called Post Activation Potentiation, essentially it is a way a stimulating an athlete's nervous system that allows them to temporarily run faster. Over time the athlete progresses, and their potentiated sprint becomes their new baseline.
3. Strength Training: Acceleration is influenced by an athletes’ ability to produce force. Stronger athletes produce more force into the ground thus creating a longer stride length and fast sprint.
4. Mechanics: Performing acceleration drills that ensure the athlete maintains a positive shin angle and stays on the transverse arch of the foot ensures that the athlete does not over-stride or "brake" when running.
5. Rest and Recovery: Ensuring athletes rest 1:00 for every 10 yards traveled reduces fatigue and allows the athlete to run each sprint with maximal intent thus helping them get faster. Allowing athletes to recover 48 hours between acceleration sessions gives the nervous system time to recover, which is paramount for fast sprinting. Once fatigue sets in an athlete is no longer speed training they are conditioning! Many of the athletes I work with improve their acceleration dramatically with the aforementioned methods. If you are interested in improving your speed this off-season simply reply to this email and we will get you scheduled for a speed assessment!
- Coach Graham