All sports require speed training, it is common knowledge that Track & Field and Cross Country benefit from speed but did you know sports like soccer, football, baseball, and lacrosse benefit greatly from speedwork as well? Being quick off the block or getting to the ball faster will improve your performance.
The best example to outline why you need speedwork is to break it down. If two athletes are at the same skill level the athlete who is faster will win. Speed also accounts for reaction time while playing. Strong knowledge of how to keep your body ready to move can also improve reaction time in your chosen sport. Both speed and reaction time require practice. As a coach, you can integrate speed into your coaching program. Here are a few pieces of advice to support speed work and reaction time training used by our coaches at Run Speed Performance.
Three Key Training Techniques
There are three key training techniques that will support a faster athlete. They are speed workouts, form and technique training, and strength building. Together these training techniques help a more confident athlete.
Speed is a learned skill, all speed training has to start with running efficiency. Most athletes have some imbalances within their running and it is best to start correcting this ASAP for better speed. Start your training with efficient drills/exercises and as your athlete or team conquers each exercise you can slowly push your athlete to improve their sprints. We will also cover some great techniques to help with sprinting below.
Form & Technique Training
Athletes work on muscle memory. Take the time to slow down the technique and make sure movements are automatic for your sport. Break down the movements and make your athlete competent in form and technique before speeding them up. Speeding up poor technique will only lead to injuries. It is worth doing technique movements at the start of every practice.
Strong muscles are better equipped to move faster. They have the strength behind them to push off the block quicker and change speed or direction faster. Don’t forget to take a day to focus solely on improving overall strength training for your team.
The older an athlete gets the more important speed and reaction time become and the more competitive their sport gets. Most coaches focus on skill but a varied training regimen will help improve the overall performance of your athlete. A confident athlete will likely outperform a skilled athlete and have the focus and training needed to build their skill to a higher output.
How to Add Speed Training to Your Coaching Regiment
At Run Speed Performance we focus on 4 core principles of training including speed, agility, strength, and performance. Here are a few workouts to add to your daily and weekly training and coaching schedule. If you want to focus more on improved speed check out our article that outlines the biomechanics of speed.
A’Skips & B’Skips
Start by making dynamic active drills part of your daily routine. This includes A’Skips and B’Skips which help strengthen the core, legs and upper body. To do an A’Skip, while driving the arms, lift each knee and complete a foot strike underneath the hips while skipping on the ball of the foot. To complete a B’Skip, drive the arm while doing a high knee, then extend the leg and sweep the foot back underneath the hips prior to striking the ground on the ball of the foot.
Flying 60 Meters
These work your speed, turnover, and ground reaction time. Set up a cone at the starting line, a second cone 20 meters away and a third 40 meters away. From the start, the line builds up your speed so that by the time you hit the second cone you are at top-end speed. Hold your speed through the 3rd cone and gradually decelerate.
Complete hill runs once a week these work the Power and Drive Phase.
Box Jumps and Bungees
Both of these workouts should be added weekly to help improve explosiveness.
Complete 6 – 8 x 300 m intervals and rest 2 – 3 mins in between.
Complete 6 – 8 x 150 m intervals and rest 2 – 3 mins in between.
Add in Strength Training
Strength will naturally help improve the speed and power of your athlete. We recommend adding strength to your weekly training. Here are some strength and power exercises we use to increase speed.
- Hamstring Curls
- Leg Extensions
- Power Cleans
- DB Push Press
Adding Form Training to Your Coaching
The form of an athlete is important for the development of a confident athlete that is less likely to injure themselves. Your job as a coach is to catch and train errors when it comes to your athletes.
We highly recommend recording your athlete completing form-based exercises and practicing in front of a mirror if one is available. That way your athlete can visually see how their body is completing the action. A strong form and muscle memory will help improve long-term performance.
For Track & Field running form we highly recommend using the USA track and field certification. It is good practice to feel confident in the form required for your sport.
Advice For New Coaches
Coaching is a rewarding career. Your job is to help improve the confidence and lives of young athletes. As a coach kids look up to you and that’s a great position to be in. If you are looking to improve your coaching over the long term make sure to focus on developing your athlete’s physical skills. Break down the movements and create confidence in their form and speed before focusing on too many sport-specific skills. If you are worried about your athlete’s confidence on and off the field there are ways you can coach and improve athletic confidence.
Work on conditioning, speed, power, and strength. Do not neglect these areas and make sure your training schedule has a good mix of different areas of focus to build a better all-around athlete. And lastly to make a good athlete great make sure you are not overtraining. Add scheduled breaks to their monthly routine and check in often to make sure your athlete is still having fun and enjoying their sport.