Speed and Agility Training

Speed and Agility Training

So as you maneuver your way through the jungle that is the “sports performance industry”, you will undoubtedly run into dozens of “speed and agility” programs. This post is going to be posted in several parts but for today’s portion we will deal exclusively with the speed portion of speed and agility.

When it comes to speed training you will hear all sorts of terms tossed around: stride length, stride frequency, ground time, air time, turnover rate, first step acceleration, and the list goes on and on. With so many variables, how does an athlete or coach pick a point of emphasis? When testing is done on Olympic level sprinters, time and again one variable and one variable only has a consistent track record of predicting who will win the race. As it turns out, that variable was none of the variables listed above. It is force, and more accurately mass specific force or MSF.

MSF is how much force an athlete can put into the ground, compared to how much the athlete weighs. More force per pound equals more speed. It seems like common sense but in this field the old adage rings true; common sense is not so common. So what does this mean for the typical athlete attempting to get faster? This means practicing on over-speed treadmills, working front end and back end mechanics, attempting to lengthen stride and clean up elbow drive are all exercises in futility. These methods are good for using up time and energy and great for breaking a sweat. However, they are not very effective at increasing speed. Lots and lots of repetitions at any of them, over time will lead to minor weight loss and minimal strength gains. By definition this will lead to a small improvement in MSF. If time is a limited resource though, there are far superior methods to achieving substantial improvements in speed.

In our next several segments we will discuss the primary variables involved with MSF and how to improve upon them, and how other secondary variables effect speed. Also, we will enter into the agility realm by highlighting the concepts yielding the greatest carry over onto the field.

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